Back in the mid-eighties, Margaret Thatcher was dismantling everything that Britain had previously stood for. She replaced a socially orientated industrial economy, with one based on capitalist individualism.
Britain resisted these changes. Social frustration spilled into all areas of life, including football. Hooliganism and football went together hand in hand. Thatcher’s response was to try and control football fans by issuing identity cards and putting fences up around stadiums. Including one right down the middle of the London Road.
The song ‘We are the left side…’ rang round the ground during yesterday’s defeat to Crawley. Most singing it were too young to understand why a song depicting the different sides of the London Road was required. Some will never have even been to the London Road. One or two may not even know what it is.
The point is that ‘We are the left side…’ was Oxford fans taking ownership of something that had been imposed on them. In short, it’s slave music. It was fitting that it was sung yesterday.
Everyone knows what the problem is. A combination of an obstinate landlord and an uncertain financial climate means the club are struggling to buy the ground. The main financial backer appears understandably reluctant to keep ploughing money into the club. This is diversionary and undermining.
Everyone at each other’s throats is not going to help. Radio Oxford described Darren Patterson’s team selection as ‘shit or bust’ saying that ‘if it’s not working after half an hour he’ll have to change it – let’s hope we’re not a goal down by that point’. 45 minutes before kick-off we were fearing Crawley and expecting it all to go wrong.
When we went a goal down there was instant booing even though we were still in the game. At the end there were all the comments about ‘not being fit to wear the shirt’ and that the club doesn’t deserve it’s fans.
Darren Patterson is sometimes a bit naïve – using the transfer list as his own version of the naughty step and openly criticising players may work sometimes, but he needs to learn to use it at the right time. However, it is no individual manager or player that is causing the current problems; it’s the pre-occupation with the stadium purchase.
Not that players or fans can influence this greatly – so, we are where we are. Crawley are a fine example; two years ago they were in administration, they played their way out of a massive points deduction and have rebuilt themselves into a team at the top of the table. We are all slaves to the circumstances we’re in. It’s time for unity not separation; whether the players, manager or fans are good enough is irrelevant.