Well this weekend I must admit to asking myself why I was in Huddersfield. Indeed during half time at an eerily quiet Galpharm Stadium, I did wonder why I was not watching Toy Story 3 with my wife and son.
Obviously I’m setting myself up for a fall here as no doubt my wife will be asking the very same question after she reads this! In truth I haven’t any hard and fast answers either. Driving to Yorkshire to see us play Burnley at a neutral venue, paying £10 to get in and already knowing that no new signings would be present hardly provide a suitable reason for my attendance.
I could point out that the location of the game was a novelty in itself and in the end we won courtesy of a Tuncay header and an equally novel (for his time at Stoke anyway) Michael Tonge goal. I’m still not quite convinced though if these are justifiable reasons.
The thing is though where club loyalty is concerned there aren’t always any logical explanations. It’s just what you do as a fan. It’s hard wired into real football people who lose all sense of balance where club matters are concerned.
After two years of being back in the elite division though, I suspect the original question will no doubt start to be asked by many supporters. The spiralling cost of following your club both home and away is beginning to take football away from the man in the street.
In only our third game of the new season we find ourselves away at Stamford Bridge and already we are faced with extortionate prices. A heady choice of £46 or £49 for adults, coupled with a scandalous price of £23 for children tells you all that is wrong with football at the highest level.
Let’s make no bones about it. Chelsea’s ticketing structure is nothing short of disgraceful. They’re not the only ones of course but they are one of the worst. How can anyone on an average income justify taking his or her kids to a game like this? By the time travel and refreshments are factored in you could easily say goodbye to £200 for 90 minutes of “entertainment”.
As someone who has only missed two league games in the last 90 or so, I’ll admit that the gloss is beginning to wear a little thin. Stoke are now more than capable of going away and being competitive at most clubs in the Premier League. For me the big games are now the fixtures we have a genuine chance of winning (or at least having a real go.)
If I am going to sacrifice any away travel I would much rather give the Boltons, Wigans and Blackburns my cash rather than pay a crazy fee to be stuck in some dreary corner of a supposedly superior ground. You wouldn’t mind so much if the facilities were of a higher standard but the Emirates apart, many of the top clubs’ away enclosures leave a lot to be desired.
As for the Potters, well things must surely be “getting busy” behind the scenes by now. The game against Burnley didn’t really tell us anything new. At the back we look very solid. In midfield we have some steady players but look short on flair (although Liam looked bright) and up top we need a high quality front man.
As time ticks by it looks more and more likely that we may well start against Wolves with a starting XI containing solely our existing players. I do however have full confidence that we still have enough to pick up points with what we have, although the sooner new players arrive the better in my opinion.
With any luck we will have strengthened by Friday. When I’m sitting down at half time in Wrexham, hopefully I will only be wondering when my season ticket will drop through the letterbox and not why I’m at the Racecourse Ground watching the same players again!