1) If you usually drive to the ground bear in mind that
you will have to leave home at midday to 'find a parking space'. Head for the
ground and then perform a bizarre 72 point turn in the cramped space of
Sudmeadow Road as if you've realised there is no parking. Eventually park the
car at the bottom of Hempstead Lane and walk back for over ten minutes to the ground.
Remember after the game to sit in the car for twenty minutes as you "wait
for the traffic to clear".
2) At big games you may remember there were experiments
with pre-match entertainment. You can recreate some of this feeling by putting
on local radio at full blast while you sit in the car with the windows firmly
closed. Once half deaf you will feel a little as if you've been 'roadshowed'.
Also try to encourage some full-busted young ladies to wander around handing you
cheap paper hats, but if you can sort that out for yourself chances are you're
not going to be worrying too much about watching City in the Western Division
this season. Also wrap a few balloons round your wrist and wearing a silly hat
will recreate a little 'carnival' atmosphere. Before going to the ground
encourage a small child to draw over your face with felt-tips, so you can be the
proud wearer of 'face-paint'. Once inside the stadium you will want to have the
right music playing, so pre-record some big sounding eighties soft-rock anthems
for your walkman, or if you can get your hands on a copy of Now 10 even
better. It's vital that the ever hopeful 'Simply the Best' is played at
3) Before many big games it became traditional to go
out for a few drinks to meet up with friends in the city centre before heading
down to the ground. Given the likely sense of anti-climax such actual
preparation might cause this season you may no longer feel like doing this.
However you can still create that 'little bit drunk' sense at the match.
Firstly arrange to borrow a pair of glasses so your vision is blurred and
distorted. If you already where specs simply take them off. To create that bursting
bladder feeling insure that you have drank at least four litres of tap water in
the minutes immediately proceeding kick off. Towards the end of the second half
tie your laces together so you regularly stumble and trip, or walk with that
exaggerated exactness of the 'trying not to appear drunk'. At the end of the
match, also make sure you loudly check with your mates what the final score
turned out to be.
4)Turn up to the match at the last minute and make a bee-line straight for
one of the few other hardy souls left on the terrace. Politely, but firmly, ask
them to move down a little as this is where you always stand and also mutter
that you're not changing for a load of glory-hunting part-timers who only
come down for the big games. As this poor punter has probably stood there every
game for the last ten years, and this is patently not a big game you may get some
odd looks. But they'll probably move as you're obviously insane and they won't
want to risk what you might have in your pocket.
5) In many ways the 'crowd' part of the experience is
the hardest part to re-create. For this you will have to make sure you've gone
to the match with at least four friends, bear in mind that you might have to
offer some payment to persuade them to go through an afternoon at Meadow Park
this season. Stand in the middle of your friends who will pack tightly around
you, making it difficult for you to get your hands out of your pockets. At
irregular intervals during the match ask them to jostle you and knock you down a
step on the terracing. If one of your friends is tall, ask them to move in front
of you just before kick-off. For the absolute big match experience one of your
friends will at some point burn a fag hole through your new jacket.
8) An important factor in big matches is the away fans
- often violent and antagonistic like e.g. Halifax. This season there may well
only be a handful of traveling support for some games so alternative
arrangements will have to be made. See if you can find something else that
will encourage complete strangers to hurl hostile abuse at you. Examples might
be pretending to be a traffic warden ticketing cars, or perhaps taking a Bible
and trying to preach down in King's Square. This should get you in the mood for
the game. Once at the match you may find the only way of getting the necessary
atmosphere is to argue with yourself, playing both home and away fan and
providing all the necessary taunts. This will prove confusing and life will be
much simpler if you can find a willing opponent to participate in the argument,
remembering to pretend that you are both emboldened by having a large group
behind you. If the match has been particularly heated you might want to recreate
the after effects of a physical confrontation, easily done by chucking yourself
down the terrace and picking up a few grazes and bruises. If you just want to
generate a few real bits of verbal abuse you could do worse than pop your head
round the boardroom and ask the directors when the AGM is. Of course if there
has been a confrontation at the match you will want to feel as if the esteemed
local constabulary have attended. Ask a friend to take Polaroid's of you from a
distance, and then bundle you into the back of a car when you ask what they are
doing. If they are willing to, ask the friend to also refuse to listen as
you tell them about some assaults, but then to drag of small adolescents for
going on to the pitch at the end of the game. For full realism the friend may
also want to say things like 'why don't you go down Kingsholm and see how real
sports fans behave'.
7) With ten minutes left before half-time head off towards the food counter
to "avoid the queue". There's very unlikely to be a queue, so you
might then need to spend the next twenty minutes loitering around near the tea
hut to build up the suitable sense of anticipation. For the complete experience
ask McGoldricks to only half cook the burger like they did when they were trying
to sell thirty a minute in the good old days.
8) Similarly you will doubtless need to use the toilet at some point
during your big match experience, especially if you've been following tip number
7. To create the big match effect you will have to wait until you are absolutely
busting and you can hear your bladder sloshing as you run towards the loo. Once
there spend the next five minutes hopping from foot to foot, while the queue
eases toward the much-desired porcelain. If you can find a willing friend,
encourage them to go ahead of you and pretend to be an old man standing vacantly
over the urinal for up to ten minutes after completing their task. To get the
experience perfect as soon as you begin to go you'll hear a loud roar as you
miss the only City goal of the game. For the real BIG match atmosphere see if
you can persuade lots of other people to accompany you to the toilet and to
jostle you as you go, ensuring you piss all down your leg.
WARNING - asking other people to go with you in to the
toilet could be misunderstood with unfortunate consequences. Exercise extreme caution!
9) As there are fewer fans, both home and away, you
might find the noise somewhat subdued and feel less like singing yourself. To
counteract this record a load of static hum and play it back to yourself on a
walkman. Failing that drink heavily, lose all your inhibitions and shout away
regardless of what everyone else does. If possible ask a friend to sing or chant
something similar but getting it slightly wrong, remember this is a big match so
there will be plenty of enthusiastic but inexperienced newcomers. Try your best
to catch tonsillitis during the season, to recapture that 90 minutes of shouting
sore throat. Don't forget to rip up a load of old newspaper and scatter it over
your head before leaving for the game. That way you will find pieces of
tickertape inexplicably down your shirt when you undress in the evening.
Don't forget that with this being a big match there will be an awful lot of
people who have not been to many Gloucester City matches before, some of them
might be rugby fans or some might be armchair football supporters who keep
waiting for replays of the incidents. Ask your friend to stand a small way from
you, but easily within earshot. At intervals encourage them to make comments
like: 'It's quite like real football isn't it ?', 'how many points is a
goal worth?', 'is that one there the one that used to play for Man. U. ?' (n.b. -
don't get misled into thinking anyone on the pitch ever has played for Man.
U.!), 'are we the ones in yellow ?' etc. Other entertaining faux pas may be to
drone 'Glawster, Glawster' in a flat voice when a corner is being taken, or clap
politely when the opposition score. Your friend should also make some other
mistake due to lack of familiarity with their surroundings, such as trying to
park next to the clubhouse.