A guest article from Adam Brabbin- something a bit different but I think it can be related to the identity of Bolton Wanderers
Part I Imprisonment in the Cave / Growing up on success
Imagine a stadium which fans have attended from childhood. These fans are captivated so that their arses are fixed to the seats and eyes are fixed forwards, forcing them to gaze at the pitch in front of them and not look around at how their club is run, at each other, or even at themselves or examine their own beliefs. Behind the scenes, hidden away in a grand office is a chairman, and between the chairman and the fans is a manager, because of which a team is built. On the pitch each week, football is played, to draw the fans eyes in. The chairman stands behind the scenes so their body does not cast a shadow for the fans to see, but the players on the pitch do… ‘just as puppet showmen have screens in front of them at which they work their puppets’. The fans cannot see any of this behind them and are only able to see the shadows cast upon the pitch in front of them. The sounds of recent success echo off the stadium walls, and the glint of trophies are in the fans eyes. The fans falsely believe that they are experiencing what football is supposed to be like. ‘This is proper football’, they say. ‘This is how it should be’. Blind fools.
A wise man suggests that the glamour and the clubs successes constitute reality for the fans because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of how football is supposed to be, what the experience should be like, and the glory that can be gained from grass roots success.
Part II Departure from the Cave / Informing your own beliefs
One day, a single fan is freed, going on a mates suggestion to watch a lower league club one Saturday. Being forced to turn and see the old club for its size, dominance, and control over the fans with its ludicrous ticket prices. The realization that success is not everything would hurt the fan, and make it hard for him to see the players that are in front of him at the lower league club as anything to be excited about. In his pain and disillusionment, the confused fan would turn away and run back to what he can see and is accustomed to, that is the old club he has grown up with. He initially rejects this new way of life, this lower league freedom.
The fan returns, angry and confused. The light of realization is representative of the new reality and knowledge that the enlightened fan is experiencing.
Slowly, his mind and heart adjust to what he had seen. First he can only see what he has always known. Gradually he can see the benefits of the lower leagues, of other fans, of great pies, good atmosphere, and cheap ticket prices. Eventually he is able to look at the new teams players and manager until finally he can look upon himself and find the joy he experiences from this new team. Only after he can look within himself is he able to understand what he has seen and what it is. A better way of life, a better game of football.
Part III Return to the Cave / Telling his mates
The freed fan would think that the new club was superior to the world he experienced before; ‘he would bless himself for the change, and pity the other fans’ – Plato. This would cause a desire to bring his fellow big league dwellers out of the stadium and into the warming light of the championship, of leagues one and even two.
The returning fan, who has become acclimated to the football on offer at clubs like Oldham and Preston, would be disappointed when he returns to his old club, just as he was when he was first exposed to the Boundary Parks of the world. Trophy life now seems repellent; the big league Prima Donna players, the silly wages, the cheating, diving and vitriolic harassment of the referee is now abhorrent to the fan. The other fans would infer from the returning fans bewilderment and apathy that the journey away from the big time had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. The other fans, if they were able, would therefore reject the fan and insult anyone who attempted to drag them away from their beloved success.
They are all blind to the truth – blind fools, apart from the one enlightened fan, who will always be unable to spread the virtue of Sunday league.
By Adam Brabbin
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