From silverware to nowhere; Oxford fans, those left, are the hardiest in the land. Our demise is not as celebrated as Nottingham Forest or Leeds United; but our collapse is complete making us the forgotten club of English football.
This makes Saturday’s match-up with Ebbsfleet all the more interesting because, Milton Keynes Dons aside, Ebbsfleet fans; or specifically the 50,000 who now own the club, must be the least resilient most transient in the country.
The myfootballclub concept, when it was initially announced, was quite interesting. I was even tempted to part with £35; it was a bit like fantasy football – a mild distraction and another website to browse. Luckily, I didn’t, because now the concept is being realised its just plain odd.
Who are these 50,000 people?
For most, their involvement is surely temporary. Sure, they may vote on a couple of early decisions. But when they have to decide whether or not to sign a bustling utility man from the Conference South, will they care enough to vote? And, when things get boring, or go wrong or worse, go nowhere. Most will simply go and do something less boring instead.
Those who do stay will fall into two categories. Some will be fans of other clubs and will remain so. Their input will be half hearted, at best, divisive at worst.
Then there are those who will take it seriously and become supporters. How many might that really be? And secondly what sort of fan switches allegiance with such apparent ease? These are people who fail to understand the social, spiritual and cultural association the fan has with his club. I know it’s a romantic notion which is being eroded with the game’s globalisation, but if you strip away all the media brouhaha the irrational relationship the fan has with his club is still at the heart of the game’s appeal.
On such a fragile base, it does make you question what becomes of the existing Ebbsfleet faithful now their club’s direction is subject to the whim of a silent, disinterested mass. Their club is now subject to a faddy internet game though their chairman, manager and supporters’ trust all see oddly accepting.
So, Saturday’s game becomes a battle between a club whose following is the most hardy against one which is increasingly baseless. Another fight between good and evil; but for once, I think we’re on the side of the good.