11:09am Saturday 17th March 2012
By Tony Kelly
BOOS are as much a part of football’s modern-day fabric as multi-coloured boots, primped and preened players, web warriors with more axes to grind than a Viking raiding party, and the unlikely snack-mates of pies and prawn sandwiches.
But a section of York City supporters have taken the art of booing to a new dimension, to a new twist, to a new low.
Just a week ago some followers of the Minstermen turned their spleen on their own team and – get this – at the end of a match which they had just won.
Not only had the Bootham Crescent outfit prevailed, they had done so in the FA Trophy semi-final, first leg, against fierce rivals Luton Town to put the club one step closer to an appearance at Wembley.
The reason for the jeering which so angered several players and particularly manager Gary Mills was, judging by a torrent of comments on The Press website – thepress.co.uk – that City’s performance in prising the 1-0 win over the Hatters was way below-par.
Anger was further fuelled because City had managed to win only by a single goal despite the visitors being reduced to ten men for more than three-quarters of the game and then to nine for the final 35 minutes of the Trophy tie.
Some apologists argued expectations have been heightened by the uproariously brilliant football City were regularly playing in the first third of the current campaign.
So even during an indifferent period City should have applied more than just a single cut to Luton ahead of this afternoon’s second leg at Kenilworth Road.
But raised aspirations are not the sole reason for the booing. There’s now a trend in football from top tier through to the lowest of the low leagues, that because you’re playing at home triumph is a given.
That overweening sense of anticipation must have been hiked to implausible levels at the Crescent last Saturday because the opposition were reduced to just eight outfield players and a goalkeeper.
Another given then that the punishment inflicted by City should have been more than a solitary Jamie Reed strike.
That, as devotees of a certain German captain whom they would like to see replicated, is a load of Michael Ballacks.
If there had been a listening device in the Luton changing room at half-time, no doubt the insistent mantra would have been damage limitation. Keep it down to one goal for next week’s game, would have been the message, the urgency of which was ratcheted up ten minutes into the second half after the Hatters’ second red card.
Like a traditional western, Luton corralled their wagon and invited City to try to break them down. City could not find a route through, but that’s as much down to defensive defiance as attacking shortcomings.
By the final whistle it was 1-0 to City. A win, a victory, a conquest – yet the red-shirted ranks were booed by some of their own.
During the match, and certainly before, there would have been jeers and catcalls and boos for Luton. So for City to then get the same ear-jarring treatment at home is disgraceful.
We’ve all had a go from the terraces either slagging off a player, a passage of play, or a selection or substitution by a manager that has gone awry. I’m as guilty as the next.
But I have never, ever booed my own team. Not at home, not away, not anywhere.
Booing is reserved solely for the opposition and their fans.
Why else would anyone vent upon their own team the very same ill-will doled out to rivals? It beggars belief.
How foolish will last week’s boos echo should Mills’ Minstermen successfully complete their mission this afternoon and seal an FA Trophy final appearance beneath the gleaming arch?
But even if that task fails and the men in red don’t reach Wembley, how appalling that City were booed by some of their so-called own.
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