“Well, I never felt more like singin’ the blues,
‘Cause I never thought that I’d ever lose your lovin’
You got me singing the Blues”
It’s fair to say that most Waterford United fans wouldn’t own too many Ella Fitzgerald albums, but for many seasons, the devoted Blues supporter has honoured the ‘First Lady of Song’ at the RSC.
Now there’s not as many singing as once they did at Waterford United matches by virtue of the fact that there’s not that many attending Waterford United matches as once they did.
And that’s a real shame. Because at a time when the economic minded are telling us to buy local produce, to support local business (which of course we should), the idea of supporting your local soccer team is, virtually, an alien concept.
The recent EA Sports Cup Final at the Regional Sports Centre drew around 3,000 spectators, augmented by lively singing sections from both the Blues and Bohemians’ fans.
The buzz around the RSC was terrific, with glints in many an eye, particularly among the club’s hard working management committee. They, as much as the players, deserved a big night like the cup final.
But those that toil to keep Waterford United on the road must have pinched themselves as the crowd rolled in two Saturdays ago.
That there was a bigger crowd at Kilbarry to witness Roy Keane (as opposed to Ipswich Town) at the RSC than there was at a cup final involving Waterford in Waterford, is rather sad.
Now this column is as guilty as any when it comes to talking about English football, going right back to childhood, as is the case with most of us obsessed with ‘the beautiful game’.
But, hand on heart; I’ve attended a darn sight more Blues games than I have of those clubs whom I admire ‘across the water’.
Look at it this way: three days after Waterford United went down 3-1 to Bohs, the Blues returned to First Division action against Longford Town at the RSC.
The attendance of 310 paying customers last Tuesday night represented a 90 per cent dip on the gate for the cup final: imagine Old Trafford with 69,000 empty seats the week after a sell-out fixture. No, I can’t either.
While many a television screen around Waterford that same Tuesday night was filled with another tedious night of Champions League football, a group of players bedecked in blue played in front of 310.
“Ah sure,” the naysayers do so regularly declare, “the standard is bad, the soccer is rubbish, why would you bother with it, etc.”
This sort of nonsense is perpetuated by those who will witness and talk about as many bad matches of hurling, (Gaelic) football and rugby as they do about the good ones.
And as someone who goes to his fair share of games in four different sports, the good/bad ratio is roughly the same across all codes.
It’s also worth pointing out that a head count of those attending Waterford Premier League and First Division fixtures every weekend surely number in their hundreds.
So why is there such disconnect between many soccer fans in this city and their local League of Ireland soccer club?
Well, if anyone with even a passing interest in Waterford United could answer that, there’d be a few thousand bums on seats at the RSC every second weekend.
The recent cup final was a fantastic night in terms of setting, colour and atmosphere. It brought back memories of great evenings in Kilcohan Park and what a joy it was to watch our club taking on the country’s finest, even playing in Europe.
Under manager Stephen Henderson, the current squad has worked wonders this season considering that the club has only one player officially on the books prior to Christmas.
Are they going to produce samba soccer every week? Of course not – even Brazil themselves can’t manage that.
But Waterford United is my local club, your local club, our local club and they truly deserve the support of those who declare themselves to be soccer fans in this city and county.
So let the call be plainly and loudly put out: let’s have a few more “Singin’ the Blues” at the RSC (and away from home) between now and season’s end. “United, United…