Here’s a quick joke for you that is really really funny : what mode of transport does the entire Wimbledon away support use? A taxi. Hahahahahahahahahaha.
OK, that joke wasn’t even remotely funny in 1981 or whenever it was first told, and it rather proves that many football fans really don’t have that much of a life, but none the less it is no laughing matter when it comes to our attendances.
I am writing this having just come back from the Everton debacle, where apparently only 84 of us turned up. Well, believe it or not we have taken lower figures to other places, 81 away at Forest, 61 against Sheff Utd etc springs to mind here. Although the matches mentioned here were long away matches, most of the time we seem to take anything between 100 and 500, rising to between 1,000 to (if we’re very lucky) 3,000 for London matches. Additionally, we have reportedly 7,000 season ticket holders. So why is our attendance for away matches so piss poor?
Firstly, let’s get something out of the way straight off – our support in general has never been special, through one reason or another (although anyone who refuses to watch WFC because of our playing style is not someone who I would call a true supporter anyway). So I’m not expecting 10,000 to every away game. Ideally I would like a hardcore of about 500 to such places like Everton at night, but I don’t expect miracles.
So, why can’t we expect at least 300 people per game? Nobody really knows, although everyone has their own ideas. It’s probably best to say that it’s not one particular reason, but rather a combination of some pretty damning circumstances.
One of the most talked about reasons is cost. Away matches are fucking expensive nowadays, you invariably pay about Â£100 per away game (don’t believe me? Work it out next time) and believe me, Â£100 is a lot of money, no matter who you are. But hold on – haven’t we got the highest amount of Â£30k+ earners anywhere? So maybe cost isn’t so much of an issue.
The other main factor that is often touted is getting time off, either from work, or family, and I think this is one of the major factors for it, albeit it in a different way to what most people expect. Here’s what I mean. Most of the “old guard” are in their early to mid thirties, and therefore with families and the like, it’s pretty difficult to go to away matches. Those who tend to travel most are in the 18-25 range, and here I reckon lies a major part of our problem.
Thanks to quite a bit of neglect in cultivating people between 1989 and 1994, the amount of people who are between 18 and 25 and can support us away is extremely small. With us, we have a LOT of fans under 16, and very many who are over 30 or so (who doubtless came during the 4th to 1st uprising), but sod-all inbetween. Now, if the occasion still arises – Spurz WC SF last year – we can and do take a lot of people. That’s because the old guard and the newbies make the effort. But with morgages, school etc, travelling to Sheff Wed away is nigh-on impossible.
Of course, as with everything, people have to be encouraged to go – remember, apathy rules at WFC – and here’s another reason for low attendances. Ever tried travelling to Everton away in the evening? No matter how much you want to go, you either have to drive up, take the train and stay over, or get the official supporters coach. Now, the first two are self-expanatory, but the Official Supporters Coach (TM) stops in Wimbledon, gets you to and from the ground safely, yet nobody uses it. Why? Well, actually it’s quite obvious. The coach is horrible. The seats are uncomfortable, you leave at some god-forsaken hour (which might not be avoidable, to be fair), and unless you’re into pub stops for two hours and 18 rated videos it’s rather unpleasant.
Couple this with the fact that it really is quite expensive (Â£20 by train to Everton, similar price by coach, hmm….) and you can understand why nobody uses it. In the days when I first started going, the coach trips were quite good. They were cheap, relatively comfortable, you didn’t get lumbered with pub stops (they ran executive and standard in them days), and you were pretty much tempted to go. Nowadays, everyone has twigged that the coaches suck, and subsequently nobody bothers going.
For those who don’t already know, the club doesn’t actually run the coaches – the Official Supporters Club do, and their membership is now reportedly even less than those who went to Everton on the 25th. So despite there being 1000 WISA members, there are potentially 6,000 people who are not being targetted to actually go to away matches. Now, if the club was to take over the running, if they don’t do their usual they could make it quite workable for people to go. True, you would need to leave from Wimbledon, and potentially places like Sutton as well, but that shouldn’t be a hardship.
You would need to keep it reasonably priced, you have to cater for everyone – I mean EVERYONE – and perhaps most importantly of all you need to make sure that everyone knows about it. Ever tried booking the coach? It’s quite a hardship because you have to phone Tim Elkins inbetween certain times, or visit Tilbrook in Crystals, and that’s not always possible. Wimbledon really make it difficult for people to support them at times (now where have I heard that before……)
Ultimately, our away support can’t get any worse. True, away attendances are dropping in general but there has to be some sort of effort put in to make sure we don’t eventually drift below 50 – and believe me, that will happen for us at a Premiership league game soon enough. Steps really have to be taken, and couple with the need to get more support in general (and a move away from SP, don’t forget), things really need to start happening
Of course, there is one reason why we don’t take many – the team does tend to play crap away from home……..