How many times have we gone to support a team when they were in a semi final or final but failed to bother when they were playing in the middle of winter (or summer if we are talking about soccer or gaelic games)? Last weekend I was sitting back having a juice and I was talking to a man I know about the soccer club. You see, Castlebar Celtic was after beating Snugboro in the cup semi final and they were celebrating. And well done. But the conversion turned to support or should I say the lack of. He made a good point. For clubs to survive they need support. Whether it is buying lottery tickets or paying at the gate, everything is important for a club to survive. Then ten minutes later I bumped into one of Castlebar Mitchells young stars and he also made the point about support, or about the lack of it. Castlebar Mitchells are in the quarterfinals of the championship. How many went to their last league game? Incredibly just ten minutes later again I met one of my rugby club mates and what was he talking about? Yes you guessed it. Support or the lack of it.
Three different people, three completely different sports and three completely different times on the one night. You might wonder why this is so important to these people but I can understand why. But this is not just aimed at Castlebar. This problem is as old as sport itself. I mean there probably were only the famed one man and his dog at the first chariot race in ancient Rome but today without support clubs and teams cannot survive. We have all been there but as a man living in Castlebar who goes to a lot of games it drives me mad to see teams training and breaking their backs only to go out on a pitch and realise that there are more players than supporters. This is not even a financial point. Many of you who read this column have children and they are involved in sport. How many of you go to their games. The pressure is always on the media to cover everything because its great to see names on the paper. That’s true; I loved that when I was younger. Of course I did. But I never saw a team work so hard until there was a good crowd cheering them on. I could use a thousand examples but two spring to mind. Westport united in the FAI junior cup. And Westport in the Cawley cup finals last season and the season before. Both times they were up against it. When Westport won the Cawley cup final two seasons ago they beat a Monivea side that were unbeatable. But their support got them through. And do I need to remind you about Westport united and their adventure against Carew Park in Limerick?
This is a great time for sport in the county. But may I just use Castlebar again as an example. The Mitchells are in the county quarterfinal. The soccer club are in the cup final and have a potential cracker against Westport and the rugby club are about to set off on an adventure that could be historic. And that much I know. The work has been going on for three years. Ok, I hear your point about facilities. But it’s a chicken and egg scenario. Clubs cannot build facilities without support and support will not come where there are not enough facilities. But we can do something to make this happen. Go to underage games. Cheer on your club whoever and wherever they are. And most importantly, support their ventures. There has been too much hand wringing about not enough money to keep clubs and Christ knows it can be difficult. But you and me, we are fans and we can change things and enjoy a golden age of sport in this county. Its up to all of us. Until Next Week…ENJOY!