Those of us old enough to have watched ‘Dad’s Army’ first time round must surely have been influenced by Jonesy’s cry of ‘Don’t panic……’
I sometimes muse as to whether or not this mantra does not apply to football supporters generally or, perhaps, our supporters specifically.
Depending on our result, we can be sure of one thing: a massive over-reaction to events on the field.
This can be positive…….we could win the Scottish Cup and the Ramsdens Cup, or it can be totally negative – we’re heading to the seaside league, the management team should be sacked, the Board should resign, the players are hopeless. Does this ring any bells? Anyone out there recognise themselves?
So, let’s take a deep breath and consider things for a moment. When the Club was in the course of being ‘reclaimed,’ I seem to recall that it mattered not what division we were in, nor what kind of team we put on the park. The most important thing was that we still had a club to support.
Survival from that period onwards meant trying to get finances and debt under control. It became a balancing act between what resources we could put behind the team and what we had to spend on a crumbling stadium, as well as – at the same time – having some kind of product on the pitch that supporters could get enthused about. Put all these issues together and, I agree, it is sometimes difficult not to panic!
Roll the clock forward to 2014. We’re in a cup final, we’re in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup, we’re in the second tier of Scottish Football and we’re in a really competitive league, with only a handful of points separating seven or eight teams. We’ve lost key players to long-term injuries. We’ve lost games we all felt we could have won. We’ve won games that maybe we felt we were lucky to do so. Bottom line is that we are where we are and we just need to get on with it.
I was always brought up to believe that the real football supporter got behind the local club. If a so-called supporter wanted to celebrate victories week in week out, regular cup final appearances, bragging rights etc. etc., then you followed Rangers, Celtic or Manchester United from afar. The rest of us had a different perspective……successes came along only occasionally and, therefore, became milestone events.
Easter Road on the 8th February. Memorable, pleasing……one for us all to remember. Pittodrie a few seasons back – exactly the same. On the other hand, remember the abysmal cup defeats away to Queens Park or at home to Dumbarton, or a Boxing Day humping at Berwick, a midweek hammering at Forfar and the result at Cowdenbeath a week or two back – miserable, depressing, but let’s not do a Jonesy.
This is Raith Rovers. We are Raith Rovers. This is the agony and the ecstasy – in equal measures – of supporting our team. We will have bad days. Bad decisions – only with the benefit of hindsight – will be made. We will experience the highs and lows as generations of Rovers fans have done over the years. It is our place in the grand scheme of things. We know that this week’s villain will be next week’s hero – and vice versa!
This may be the time to address another urban myth that seems to have surfaced over the last month or two, the one that suggests we have a grand plan of not wanting promotion. We have NEVER, during my time with the Club, taken a view that we would not want to progress if we were good enough. What we have done is avoid throwing money we do not have at some flight of fancy. Our target this season was a top four finish and then to take it from there. Our cup runs are a bonus. We will be disappointed if we do not make the top four. However, we will all buckle down to make the best of where we end up. We’ll continue to pay our dues, make the right decisions as we see them and not be deflected by either short-term panic or mass hysteria, based on the most recent setback.
I started this with a reference to Jonesy. I should finish with a reference to Private Frazer – he who preached, “We’re DOOMED.” I guess we should define doomed…….. Is that doomed totally, as in not having a club to support at all? Or is it merely not doing as well as we thought we should? Or is it that every other club in our current league probably has the exact same hopes and aspirations as we have? It’s called competition. There are winners and losers. That’s life, folks. Get used to it.
Remember Easter Road? An inspired, fighting performance with a depleted team. An incredible away support, behind that team to a man. The post match joy and delight.
Let’s build on that. Let’s not dwell overlong on the disappointments we all feel. I’m neither in panic mode or doom mode. I could be but that just ain’t gonna solve anything. Fasten the seat belts, it could be a bumpy ride. It has been throughout the Club’s history.
After all, we are the Mighty Rovers.
Enjoy the game.
(aka Turnbull Hutton)