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It may just be that some of the more twisted of you are
missing the hell that was coming to watch Gloucester City a few seasons ago. It
may sound unlikely that you could be missing the tension, the strife and the
protests - but then people in Moscow are nostalgically queuing round the block
for their share of a mouldy potato to recreate the pre-Glasnost era. Anything
can happen. People are strange, and if you miss the poisonous ambience of Meadow
Park circa autumn 1999 then this guide to recreating all that pain, misery and
agitation may be for you. Then so may be counselling and secure units in remote
locations, but each to their own.
- Choose people randomly selected from various points of the
stand and refuse to talk to them or even acknowledge their presence. Take
special effort to sweep your neck away from them in an exaggerated show of
disdain as they pass. Ignoring people can be difficult if they were not
intending to speak to you anyway, so it may be best to choose people to
ignore from amongst your friends. This should be done carefully as they may
take offence, which may have disastrous consequences if it's their turn to
buy the drinks or if you're relying on them for a lift home.
- Remember how much fun it was to stand and chant "sack
the board" for hours on end? Best to avoid doing this at Meadow Park
now as we don't really want the current lot to go and that kind of thing
always causes misunderstanding (people take these things so literally).
Instead get a group of your mates to stand outside random shops and offices
in the city centre and protest wildly. Don't forget to enjoy all of the
associated sitting down, standing up, hand clapping and general waving of
arms that come with these protests. Bask in the bemused response of workers
inside and you will probably soon find your numbers swelled by passers-by
and the less mentally stable in the local population who will gleefully join
in the carnival atmosphere. Before long you'll find yourself joined by the
local constabulary and photographed by the local paper. If things go really
well you may well have started a whole new global protest movement that
despite having no purpose what so ever will still be at least as politically
coherent and intellectually sound as the Countryside Alliance.
- Sit yourself down at your computer in the wee small hours
and log on to a bulletin board or message forum. Type for hours in a free
flowing rant about the general injustices of the world, with special
reference to the problems of Gloucester City. The more you can repeat the
same points the better, if in danger of getting too passionate it is quite
acceptable to give up with coherent sentences entirely. Also practice the
slow deflation that comes with realising the first response to your
heartfelt diatribe has been a pithy and succinct "b#####s". If you
feel you've produced something strongly felt but almost entirely
incomprehensible print it out and distribute it at the next game. Please
note these documents do not count unless they would cover more than four
sides of A4, and should ideally be indistinguishable from the one you
produced last week. This was a particular favourite activity of mine for
many months and I recommend it highly, along with other fruitless activities
such as pushing water up hill.
- Reading rambling programme notes can provide hours of fun
and amusement. In many ways it is an aggravated form of the fan rant. To
recreate this find a small child, preferably one that has yet to reach
school age, and sit them in front of a typewriter or computer. Encourage
them to hit the keyboard in a random manner, this shouldn't prove difficult
as small children show great enthusiasm for hitting anything. Before long
you will be astonished to see a wonderful new version of the previous
Chairman's programme notes - although it may be difficult to beat his record
breaking 137 word sentence.
- Encourage a friend to smash you on the leg with a blunt
instrument and then chuck a bucket of water at your bruised shins. This
should nicely recreate the walk into the ground that you could have enjoyed
a few years ago. First you plunge waist deep into a deep pothole that leaves
you with multiple leg fractures, then some kind caring passing director
accelerates their sports car into a large puddle. The resulting tidal wave
drenches you from top to bottom. You can at least console yourself that
there was no way that the last minute swerve into the lake of stagnant water
could possibly suggest a deliberate act and that they had absolutely not
been laughing their heads off as they drove away.
- When arriving at Meadow Park be sure to get there in plenty
of time so that you can enjoy at least fifteen minutes in the pouring rain
outside the ground handing out shoddily printed leaflets. For full
authenticity these leaflets should be badly spelt and poorly printed with
most of the ink having ran in the rain. Lastly whole sentences should be
crossed through in biro after the last minute realisation that calling
someone "a heartless conniving thief who would steal from a blind
one-legged beggar" might be just a touch libelous.
- Once inside the ground it's best to head up to the bar.
This is vital as all moments of sedition are best accompanied by alcohol and
smoky atmospheres. Once inside you may find people trying to spoil your
historic re-inaction by greeting you with cheery smiles and happy faces. For
full accuracy you will obviously have to ignore these people and instead
glower into your beer with your friends, now each referred to as comrade.
Find a corner table and huddle around it, whispering fiercely - only to stop
in sudden silence looking suspiciously over your shoulder at appropriate
intervals for spies and eavesdroppers. This may interrupt the normal flow of
conversation but needn't prevent you from discussing normal subjects like
why the striker couldn't hit a drunk in the Regal at 10 on a Saturday night.
When you finish your huddle be sure to leave hurriedly as if embarking on
some great plot, shooting furtive looks into the corners as you scuttle off
to make the world a better place.
- Of course a large part of the problems back then revolved
around money - or the lack of it. Wander around the bar after the match
trying to wheedle and cadge money out of anyone who isn't nimble enough to
escape from your insistent clutches. Once collected the money should then be
poured into a brown envelope and handed to the players who would not be
being paid again for the fourth consecutive week. However its worth
considering that the players are now being paid and having got the money
together you could give it a worthy cause. You'll normally find me in the
far corner of the bar by the TV, all donations gratefully received!
While all the anger and angst of those months was heartfelt
and in many ways justified who would want to go back to all that wrangling? The
fact that so many people cared has to be a healthy symptom of the pride and
passion that makes you get out of bed to support your team, but for most people
the poisonous atmosphere only combined with the bad football as good reasons to
stay away. Life now is much rosier, people are working together to help the
football club progress and making protest placards can become a forgotten art.