At this stage, you might be forgiven for wondering, who cares? Surely it’s just twenty-two blokes kicking a pig’s bladder around a patch of grass!
Who cares if Lewisham’s Labour council are attempting to complete a compulsory purchase of land around The Den on behalf of an offshore developer?
Who cares if Karl Oyston is systematically running Blackpool FC into the ground based on some bizarre personal vendetta?
Who cares if Charlton FC have become the plaything of a Belgian egomaniac? Who cares if Leyton Orient are on the brink of bankruptcy?
And who cares if football’s governing bodies are either unwilling or incapable of doing anything about any of it?
Well, the answer is simple – a lot of people do.
In so many provincial, post-industrial areas, particularly in the North, football clubs are the only working class institutions left in town. They provide a sense of community and certainty in a society and economy that appear to value neither.
Burnley, for instance, regularly get attendances of 25,000 at Turf Moor.
That’s in an urban district of around 75,000 people, which means that on any given Saturday, roughly a third of the townsfolk are watching their local football team. And that’s just those who have the time, inclination, money, or bad sense to turn up in the flesh.
I mean, what else motivates large swathes of people in this way? For the life in me, I can’t think of anything!
There is, of course, another angle to all this, and if I’m going to sit here and suggest the past can provide us with meaning, it would be remiss of me not to point out that it can also serve as a prison.
If you’re a woman, or black, or Asian, or gay, then it’s doubtful you’ll have a rose-tinted view of the terraces and fan culture of decades gone by.
That’s why it’s vital that we’re as critical of some aspects of our past as we’re proud of others.
In fairness, as maligned as they are in some quarters, the Taylor Report and the Football Spectators Act of 1989, together with the work of FSF-led campaigns such as Kick It Out! and Football v Homophobia, have helped drag football out of the dark ages when it comes to certain issues.
So too have the club, and from the tireless work of the Foundation to the role of the SLO in getting Proud Terriers off the ground, they’re making good on their promise.
But if we want to continue down this path, then it’s more important than ever for supporters to have a voice.
And that voice is always louder and more effective as part of a chorus — a chorus that needs to be as loud in 2017 as it was in years such as 1919 and 2003.
Remember, HTSA are the voice of the fans. If you’d like to know more or get involved, visit our HTSA website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our Travel Line on 07905 580784.