Away the fans

August 10, 2013




Ken Masters

STRANGE things are happening up in the North East of England.

What is traditionally the hot bed of football with a friendly population looks to have been influenced from afar. The more usual ‘Away the Lads’ appears to have become ‘Away the Fans’ and thanks to the www away fans planning to visit the Riverside have been warned.


It follows on from what the management at the Millennium Stadium did a few years back.Remember the curse on the south dressing room in Cardiff. Eight successive teams, including North London rivals Arsenal and Spurs, lost from that dressing room and that called for drastic and unusual action. Specialist Dr Paul Darby was called in to apply the Chinese art of Feng Shui. Paul tried to change the ‘energy’ of the dressing room by redecorating it, scattering incense and sea salt and lighting candles and chanting. I understand that Feng Shui is all aboutcreating a positive feeling in a room or even, perhaps, in a whole stadium.

Looks like the practice has caught on well in the North East. China Town in Newcastle is well prominent and just round the corner from St James Park. The away fans, mind you, are not at all prominent; up, up, and away in a far corner of the ground. Martin O’Neill was in charge on Wearside when away fans were shifted from their plum spot behind the goal; this after Aston Villa’s Villa Park was overhauled in a similar fashion during his time as manager there. Excuse me Martin, it’s all about preparing players,playing football and winning football matches. Forgive me if I’m off beam here but in my experience it’s that that keeps managers in their jobs. Neither Aston Villa, Newcastle or Sunderland seem to have benefited much.


Anyway, not to be put off, neighbours Middlesborough are seeking to take away a few more Chinese ideas; forgive me. This from BBC Sport:

“For football fans, the start of a new season is often met with relief that the waiting is over and things can get bacK to normal. Fans find joy in the well worn routines of going to the match, catching up

with mates and the familiarity of their home stadium. “The start of the 2013/14 campaign for Middlesbrough supporters, however, represents the biggest change since the club moved from its old Ayresome Park ground.

“In choosing to ‘reconfigure’ the Riverside Stadium, the Teessiders have joined a growing trend of clubs revamping their homes with the aim of helping their team on the pitch.”


It is reported that Boro boss Tony Mowbray backed the move, which means home fans will be able to sit behind both goals, just a year after neighbours Sunderland made similar changes to the Stadium of Light. Where are the away fans then? In True Chinese fashion they have been taken away; forgive me again, like away the fans or away the away fans to be more precise!

The report goes on:

“Sunderland’s media and communications manager Louise Wanless said the switches were ordered by the club’s American owner Ellis Short.” Oh dear, don’t they just know every darn thing about soccer UK an all!

“There was a definite science behind it,” she said. “It wasn’t just done on a whim. It was all about the impact it would have on the team.”

Science, art? Whatever!

Mr Darby is currently working with three Premier League clubs and said the use of Feng Shui in football was evolving.

“Gone are the days when Feng Shui was about burying crystals under the pitch.”

He goes on:

“It’s now all about positioning and space.”

I see Paul, but don’t you think the positioning of players on the pitch and the space they

create might help just that little bit more?


For the record, last Saturday’s season opener against Leicester City saw ticket offers for Boro fans aged under 21 designed to encourage younger supporters to migrate to the stadium’s South Stand with visitors moved to the side of the pitch.

Ok, like Feng Shuiing them around a bit to ensure a home win.

What about the game then? This from Tony Mowbray:

“We played really well in the first half. We had a good shape, passed the ball around well, created chances and made good decisions in key areas.”

Seems to have worked then Tony, one up, then this:

“The bottom line is you have to take your chances. We said it so many times last season that you have to close out games when you are on top.”

The final score?

‘Boro 1 Leicester 2. Away the away fans, with three points!

Perhaps it’s all about playing football after all; bet y’ur bottom dollar missee.




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