Addicted to Love - Why we keep coming back for more
I’ll open with a question for you. Why do we bother? County are a division five team, albeit, with high ambitions, we’ve been in the Championship, but that was nearly 20 years ago, we’re never really going to challenge for the Premier League title, nor will we likely see a County captain lifting the FA Cup. The best we can hope for is challenging for promotion and a good cup run. So what keeps us going back for more when the reality is we’re likely to be disappointed more often than not?
The answer is simple, we’re addicted to County. Sure, none of us would admit we have a problem, we could stop going to games and support from a distance, but we can never absolutely leave County forever and like any addiction, the denial of our drug causes withdrawal symptoms (why do you think I’m sat here typing this?!).
It’s more than that though, we’re addicted to the possibility that absolutely anything can happen at a game; we could win 7-0, lose 7-0, we could see the greatest goal ever scored, at either end, a goal which is revered by fans for decades to come. We could see the referee go crazy and award four penalties or send off two players from both teams. The unpredictability, the sheer bonkers chaos that live football can be, the passion and the noise is what keeps us coming back for more.
Now all those spectacular events can happen at any level, whether you’re Barcelona or Brackley, obviously the further down the ladder you go, the less likely they are to happen, but that possibility is still there, the possibility that County could play a blinder; like watching Brazil, if you will. That is what we cling on to, game after game and especially nowadays when we’re denied the chance to see County in the flesh.
There is also another reason why we don’t ever quite give up; It is the rush, the crackle and the almost electric charge which accompanies the very best moments. The goal celebration is a part of football like no other and other than the obvious, I can’t think of another time in everyday life when the most simple act can give such delirious results. Once experienced, the goal celebration cements the addiction. Most other things at a game are regimented and orderly; we sit in the same seats, meet the same people, drink the same pint in the same pub before the game; we’re creatures of habit and routine. But the goal celebration, especially one which is unexpected or in the dying breaths of injury time, is the pinnacle of any match going experience. Remember the celebrations at Fylde, Barnet, Dagenham (home and away) or Wrexham this season?
Going further back, the recent goals shared by County on social media have stirred some fond memories of goals at Wycombe Wanderers in 2008, against Queen’s Park Rangers in 1994 and away at Hednesford Town in 2016. That 30 seconds of unabated madness and joy, shedding life’s pressures for a minute, the kinship experienced with our fellow fan (also known as ‘hugging strangers’) even for a brief moment cannot ever be experienced in any other walk of life and just try explaining the feeling to someone who has never been part of it. You can’t. To fully grasp the overflow of emotion, one must have lived it. If you could bottle the feeling in that split second, when the ball crosses the line and you realise a goal has been scored, you would become an insanely wealthy person overnight.
I’ll let you into a little secret here, County fans, we will experience that fervent, unmitigated rejoicing in a much sweeter way than the Premier League title-challengers and Champions League participants. You may well ask, “how so, Dave?”. Well, our cousins higher up football’s food chain experience that feeling too often to almost sanitise it. They’re used to winning trophies and scoring plenty of goals. What makes supporting County all the more special is that we don’t expect to win 30 games a season, averaging four goals a game. 2018/19 apart, our most recent achievements have been more modest and therefore expectations have been lowered, thus when we score a 95th-minute winner or pulverise a team 5-0 our jubilation is much more sincere, appreciated and it almost arises from a feeling of surprise or disbelief, the celebrations at EP after Glen Taylor’s winner against Chorley spring to mind. That ‘Glen Taylor moment’ just doesn’t happen to teams like County and after six years of attrition in the National League North, we finally had something to celebrate. I suspect those sun-kissed celebrations were more of surprise and relief than actual joy.
We have experienced almost a generation of low points, TSBW Dark Days podcasts did a great job of plunging through the trough of shite that was the 2010s, so when we experience the highs it is much more rewarding experience than following a team who wins 8-0 every week. Of course, our collective blood pressures would rather we did win 8-0 every week and there’s always a way in which we can lose when winning was much the easier outcome. In 1999 I remember County being three up against QPR with 20 minutes left and not win. More recently on Boxing Day last year, we were comfortably winning 4-0 when a brief spell of Halifax Town pressure set off the little voice in my head which nagged “we’re not going to win this, you know?!” Why? Because it’s County.
So, County fans, the next time you’re stood in the freezing cold, on a terrace at some ground in the arse-end of nowhere, watching County play as if they’ve just woken up after a night on the sauce and you ask yourself why you bother, remind yourself of the feelings of delight and euphoria the best moments you experienced while following County brought you. The injury-time winners, the promotions, the goal scored from nothing. Look back with fondness as you remember climbing a perimeter fence at Rotherham to celebrate a goal or hugged a complete stranger in rejoice. These are the reasons why we can’t get enough of County. They don’t happen nearly as often as we would like, but when they do, the feelings bring us closer together and last a lifetime.