As the great man's guest must produce his good stories or songs at the evening banquet, as the platform orator exhibits his telling facts at mid-day, so the journalist lies under the stern obligation of extemporizing his lucid views, leading ideas, and nutshell truths for the breakfast table.
Cardinal J. H. Newman, Preface to The Idea of a University, 1852

Monday, November 19, 2012

Following MK Dons has helped me empathize with AFCW fans

Before Wimbledon landed on my doorstep in Milton Keynes, I was largely an armchair follower of football. I had taken my two young sons to Anfield a few times, but that was never going to be viable, on cost or time grounds, but after going to watch the team 3 miles away (OK, not quite my doorstep) I, we all, were gradually drawn in. And now, eight years on, we're hooked: season tickets and away whenever we can.

One of the MK Dons fans on a one our forums got in a strop when we recently drew against Cambridge City (before we beat them 6-1 in the replay at home) and said he was abandoning the Dons. I don't know whether he was for real or a WUM, but the point is that it set me wondering: what would make me abandon Dons? Would anything make me abandon them?  Certainly not drawing - or even losing - to a team like Cambridge City (I was at that draw and it was fun evening out). I can't see any result driving me away. What about a long-term catastrophic decline in form, dropping down the leagues? To league 2? Not a problem at all, I followed them down there once before. Conference Premier? No, I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem. Conference South? Lower still? It is difficult to imagine, but I honestly think I would now stick with them, because they have become my team. (Though I still follow Liverpool: you don't stop loving your parents because you have children to love too!).

I have thought of circumstances when I would, hopefully temporarily, boycott them, as it happens, but it wouldn't be about achievement. Here's one (and it is in no way a criticism of Swindon Town fans): I would not support the team if we were managed by Paolo de Canio. His open support of facism is beyond the pale.  Note that it is not just that he's a fascist - maybe other people in football are too - I'm not saying the manager has to agree with my politics, but de Canio has brought fascism into football and it is not on.

So that's one thing that would drive me away.  How about this one: how about my team moved away from me, like, say, suppose the MK Dons relocated to, oh I don't know, say, the London Borough of Merton?  Well you've already seen that my reason for following MK Dons was that they were local, so, I don't know, maybe that would be a problem. Well of course it would be a problem, but without being in that situation I can't absolutely declare what I would do.

My point, of course, is that it is my following of the MK Dons that enables me to empathize with the plight of the Wimbledon fans ten years ago.  And, just maybe, it has shown me how in a similar situation I would be following AFCW. How ironic is that?

One final observation for this blog post. We among the MK Dons fans who used to, or still do, support some other team are told we are not 'proper' football fans. But what would be more proper: remaining an armchair Liverpool fan or buying a season ticked at actually watching the MK Dons?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Whom do we remember on Remembrance Day?

At the Remembrance Sunday service this morning there was a lot about "remember with gratitude those who, in the cause of peace and the service of others, died in time of war", and "we give thanks for those who died in the cause of freedom and justice". I think that is wrong, that's not what Remembrance Sunday should be about. If we only remember those who died for those 'good' things (peace, freedom and justice) we'll be missing out most people who have died in war.

The point about Remembrance Sunday is that we remember ALL those who died. One of the tragedies of war is that most people die for no good reason at all.

Which is not to say we shouldn't also, and especially, remember those who died for good causes. But the purpose of, and the wonder of, Remembrance Sunday, is that we remember the horror of all the people who die in war.