Football – Bringing people together

by Mystical Mike

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Well I never!

It’s always strange when you meet someone from nearby your home town when you live over 100 miles away but particularly stranger when you meet someone who lives just down the road, yet supports the same football team as you. Now that may not seem such a co-incidence for Premier League supporting fans but when the team in question is Northampton Town, the weirdness increases!

So I was delighted to hear from another Hampshire based Cobbler ahead of Northampton’s trip to Leeds in the F.A. Cup on Friday night. After a post on the SixfieldsBoys message board, a lad named “Hampshire Cobbler”, or Tom to his friends, got in touch on the private messaging service to see where I was watching the game. Brilliant!

Over the last few years, I’ve converted my housemate, Jamie, to be a Cobbler through trips to Barnet, Bournemouth, Millwall, and of course Sixfields and we’d already chosen our venue to try and catch the rare glimpse of the Cobblers on TV. Annoyingly, had the game been on Sky we could have watched it in the comfort of our home but the Setanta switch meant that it would have to be the pub.

I checked with the pub that the game would be on and the Winston Hotel duly obliged in a very friendly manner to show the game and now there would be three Cobblers fans watching a game…in Southampton! The beautiful game and the F.A. Cup didn’t get much better than that! Now all we needed was an upset and it would be the perfect Friday night out!

While the rest of Southampton partied into Friday night, three Cobblers fans came together in a southern city to watch a cup tie that just a lone Leeds fan on the other side of the pub also cared about. As we took some seats near the big screens, a band began to set up right in front of it! We managed to get through the first half without any disturbances to our game watching but by half-time we were forced to relocate to the smaller screens.

Scotty McGleish gave us the lead and a huge…well, medium sized, cheer went up from our small corner of the pub to a few mocking voices from the other side. We didn’t care though and with one shot and one goal we were ahead. Things started to go pear shaped with skipper Chris Doig taken off injured, influential midfielder Giles Coke sent off and Leeds being rewarded with a very soft penalty that replays proved to be a dive from the Leeds man. Andy Robinson converted and we faced an agonising second half.

We were forced to the smaller screens because of the band setting up in the pub and came across a solitary Leeds fan who kept some good banter up, mocking our attempts at attacking despite us only having ten men away from home at Elland Road! The minutes began to tick away and three nervy Cobblers fans took in another pint to settle the nerves. Leeds were reduced to long range efforts and we somehow survived in a magnificent effort and we were overjoyed with a replay in the circumstances.

Tom, it turns out, is season ticket holder at Sixfields along with his Dad and they drive to each home game. Offering a lift whenever I needed it I vowed to take them up on the kind offer and just like that a new southern Cobbler was duly welcomed!

It’s pretty random how football can bring people together like that and the fact that I was talking good Cobblers talk to a fellow fan in a pub in Southampton was a special thing. Any Chelsea, Arsenal or Man United fan can walk into a pub and meet a fellow fan just by appearing on a match day but for teams like us it’s a much more unusual occurrence. I would even say in Northampton you would struggle to find more than a few Cobblers fans in the pub watching the game, let alone down south!

I can’t ever imagine being a fan of the “big clubs” and it doesn’t seem as special when you see a fellow fan on the street or in the bars on match day. But after years of thinking that I was the only Cobbler in Southampton, I’ve found another and who knows how many more there could be! So for all exiled fans living away from their beloved clubs, take a look around message boards and you too may be able to form a group of people that makes the whole pub turn around and look at you like you’re a group of alien invaders!

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  • Jimbo

    i once bumped into a fellow England fan when I was in Spain, imagine that! It was crazy!

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