Are you a second-hand fan?
In sport, as in life, it sometimes seems that we make up allegiances as we go along. We have a free choice when faced with the possibility of going to watch a football match. We ask, 'should I go to watch the U`s this weekend, or not?`
For now, at least when Colchester United are at home, that seems like a very stupid rhetorical question. More and more people are asking it though, as this season`s average attendance at Layer Road balloons past that of the last.
Not surprisingly, the increasing number of punters choosing to sift though the turnstiles has a direct relationship with how well United are performing - it`s the most literal example of the masses voting with their feet as is ever likely to exist.
Gate receipts are up, and so are U`s, true to their terraced anthem. Something has been troubling even the most seasoned football-watcher in Britain`s oldest recorded town, though. How many of these fans attending now are genuine, and how long might it take them to disappear in rougher times?
A valid question, given that a dip in form can be taken for granted as part of a natural cycle during any league campaign. It was a thought that necessarily occurred as the iconic 2006 pop song, 'I wish I was a punk rocker` boomed across the tannoy just before kick-off of the recent game against Hull City.
Sandi Thom`s lament of old values is well-intended, pondering times past: "…when footballer`s still hand long-hair and dirt across their face." No matter that most of the words prove to be factually inaccurate.
Facts were not the issue. That line itself the seemed to ask; is love just a lyric, or does it mean more? Is quick success just a popular gimmick, or something fashioned in the memory to stand the test of time?
Well, cheers heard at various Premiership results during half-time announcements of the same match, seemed to indicate that some in the crowd considered Colchester United their second team.
Nothing wrong with that per se, except that it is a fairly modern dilemma, and a poor basis on which to be making a new 10,000-seater stadium. Hard-core fans alone, whose attendance (in their own mind at least) is obligatory, will not fill Cuckoo Farm, even if the figures state that the U`s currently have several thousand active fans.
The old concept of supporting the local team from just down the road, is long dead. Just counting the number of West Ham United fans in this county shows us that.
Don`t blame them - the world of global football was fist conceived by Manchester United. They commercialised words and speech, at the same time as amassing an army of diehard (merchandise-consuming) followers, whose birthplace was anywhere but in the North of England.
The Red Devils were the first team to attract the 'glory-hunter` phenomenon - a fan whose sole aim is to bask in the glory of a winning team, with whom they might actually share no historical allegiance or emotional bond.
Arguably, it has not happened at Colchester United yet, but only because the Sky Cameras have not been projecting Layer Road into our homes for long enough for it to be instantly recognisable word-wide.
Colchester, then, must beware of a new type of glory-hunter - someone adopting them as a second team after a good run of results. True enough, the source of the support will not be important from a financial perspective, although it should pose a moral question for people following multiple clubs.
Does it really matter? Only insofar as it could lead to Colchester becoming rivals with, say, Liverpool on the bizarre basis that there are apparently as many Reds fans in Essex as there are on Merseyside.
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