|A Dreadful Conflict of Emotions|
|Written by Mark W|
|Thursday, 02 March 2017 23:20|
It is very rare that an issue at another club leads to me feeling strongly enough to write a blog. Today, however, I have been intrigued at strength of feeling on social media with Oxford United fans arguing amongst themselves. It has intrigued me because I understand it completely.
Last night Oxford won 3-2 at Luton in the final of the EFL Trophy to claim a spot in the final at Wembley at the start of April. Whilst a section of the Oxford fanbase looks forward to a 2nd trip to the national stadium in as many seasons, another sizable group of fans will continue their boycott of the tournament. Feelings are clearly strong with both factions trading insults throughout the day.
I have not attended one game in the tournament this season despite having previously been to most games in its predecessor over the last couple of decades. Indeed, I wrote a blog on the importance of the competition in 2011 here: http://www.ernieflag.co.uk/site/index.php/bloggs/14-oldham-athletic/127-jpt-a-golden-opportunity
I have never boycotted Oldham games before and not going to matches was not something that sat comfortably with me. Unfortunately, some things are more important and making a stand against the inclusion of B teams is one such issue to me. I genuinely believe that had fans simply accepted the inclusion of higher league U23 sides it would have only been a matter of time before the top Premier League clubs were allowed to enter a 2nd team into the Football League. This would be the death knell of football as we know it.
Clearly I am not alone as there has been the best supported cross-club boycott that I can remember in English football. Crowds have been over 50% down on JPT matches last season.
Ever since we kicked off the competition with a home defeat to Carlisle I had a real concern that we might make it to the final. I didn’t want to have to make the difficult decision that the Oxford and Coventry fans are faced with now. I have to be honest and say that I wanted us to get knocked out as early as possible.
I did, however, go through the situation in my head and I can’t 100% state what I would have done. I think I would have stuck to my principles and not attended the final but at the same time it would have been devastating to miss out on our first competitive final of any kind for 27 years. If I had attended I don’t think I could have enjoyed it but if I’d stayed at home I would be missing out on a big part of the club’s history.
This, in itself, is a reason why this tournament has been a disgrace this season. No fans should ever be put in this position. A trip to Wembley is something special so nobody should be put in a position where they have to even think about not going.
I hope the Oxford and Coventry fans make their own decisions and are not made to feel like they have let their club down whichever way they decide to turn. Above all, I hope that this ill-thought out experiment is abolished after just one season and that we can all get back to supporting our own clubs home and away in every game next year.
|Last Updated on Friday, 03 March 2017 08:13|