Is groundswell right? Undercurrent maybe. I’m not sure – but there’s a lot of disharmony about the place. I’ve lamented before some of the less positive manifestations of the techno-literate football fan, and as I noted then, I’m tiptoeing the line of hypocrisy in critiquing it, but things seem to be coming to a head again on the ol’ #nffc hashtag of late.
Now I think it’s worth a quick reminder about where we’ve been as a club recently – when Nigel Doughty passed away we were on the brink of oblivion. We’ve all been through the debates before about why that would be the case – certainly the late chairman’s own decisions played no small part in that – but regardless of why we were there, that’s where we were.
That was a matter of months ago. Since then we’ve seen new owners arrive – undoubtedly in no small part thanks to the hard work of those left behind at the club trying to keep the ship from sinking. They appointed Sean O’Driscoll and then oversaw a large influx of players, whilst cancelling the preseason preparations the departed Steve Cotterill had put in place.
So a new manager, a very different squad and no preseason. That’s less than ideal preparation for a new season. From my memory most of us seemed to be content that this was a season of transition, certainly that was my view. An aim for a top ten finish perhaps with a sniff of sneaking into the playoffs – which is pretty much where we find ourselves now.
Hence finding this discord rather puzzling – or at least the thoughtless abusiveness from some quarters. Sure, it’s fair to offer a critique of performances – the Ipswich and Hull games in my view were below acceptable (and in the case of the latter at odds with the manager’s comments), but people calling for his head? Well that’s just silly.
Fellow bloggers Rish and Rahoul over at eighteensixtyfive have decided to put their website on ice in the midst of personal abuse and threats in response to their excellent posts and podcasts. How on earth can we as a community of supporters stand by and be content that this is how a minority of Forest supporters choosing to portray themselves online?
Underpinning all this are the torrent of random crap so-called fans send to our players or even owners on Twitter. Whether they really are Forest fans or other clubs’ supporters trolling is unclear – but it could be damaging. Indeed, at least a couple of Reds players have been moved to delete their Twitter accounts in the last couple of days.
Increasingly I find myself rarely taking to the social media channels – a cursory search of the Forest ‘fan pages’ on Facebook, the #nffc hashtag on Twitter, or the numerous forums scattered around unearths an ugly broth of negativity, thoughtlessness or just plain abuse which isn’t helpful to anyone.
It’s a real shame – because there’s a place for different opinions and healthy debate, but it seems to get tainted by the chronic lack of ability some fans have to do this without resorting to a torrent of abuse (or ‘banter’ as seems to be the current buzz word for this) when presented with an alternative point of view.
Few of us are trained football managers or transfer negotiators – plus the subject we love so much doesn’t really have any right answers, so we ought really to be prepared for folks having very different views and accept that peaceably whilst putting our own counterpoints across. If we can’t do that then we ought to shut up.
It’s a shame Rish and Rahoul have opted for the latter – I hope they’re back in action soon as I for one (and I’m sure many more) will miss their insightful views. Again, I might run the risk of hypocrisy here – but it would be nice if we could have a think before we took to the Internet.