There was so much that I didn’t enjoy about Saturday’s visit to Loftus Road. Firstly let’s get the obvious out of the way. Losing by three clear goals to your closest rivals after a performance that started well and deteriorated the longer the game went on made for a pretty gloomy and depressing afternoon’s viewing.
The fact that QPR were really no great shakes themselves and simply cashed in on our plethora of mistakes and inadequacies simply made matters worse and left me with a feeling of total frustration as well as one of impending doom unless serious steps are taken immediately to reverse our slide before it becomes terminal and irreversible.
The day started well when I found a free parking space ideally situated just a short hike from the ground but it was all downhill from there.
What struck me forcibly as soon as I took my seat half an hour before kickoff was the dark, aggressive and ugly mood amongst so many of the Brentford supporters. Rather than looking forward with relish and anticipation to the chance of completing a rare double over the old enemy, the packed School End was a cauldron of hate with far too many supporters totally out of control and resembling a baying mob of howling banshees.
Their songs and chants were inflammatory and obscene as well as boringly repetitive and unimaginative and the language foul in the extreme as quite appalling words and sentiments that could very easily see you facing a serious Public Order charge in different circumstances time after time poured out of the mouths of supporters of all ages, most of whom were quite old enough to know far better.
I am all for poking some gentle fun at our opponents and for making Griffin Park a fortress and an intimidating place to visit, but this went far beyond the pale as QPR, their players, supporters and anything and everything connected with that club were subjected to a fusillade of nonstop abuse and woe betide anybody who made any attempt, however futile to make our supporters behave themselves with some small element of decorum.
What is even worse is that as the game began to turn against the Bees, moods darkened even more, the wind changed and now it was the turn of our own players to become the whipping boys and the targets for abuse. They were assailed with moronic and vitriolic comments and insults both singularly and collectively, with poor, hapless John Swift a particular target. Fans also turned against fellow fans as any supporter who continued to cheer on his team also risked becoming a target. Just as had been the case against Charlton, the previous week, the final whistle saw more boos, catcalls and derogatory comments as the team slunk off.
I had a similarly unpleasant afternoon earlier this season at Derby when a large group of intimidating so-called Brentford supporters unfortunately seated right by me spent the entire match eyeballing rival home fans and singling them out for a nonstop torrent of vehement abuse. What happened on the pitch – nothing much if truth be told – was totally immaterial to them and I doubt if many of them could have told you the final score given that they had watched so little of the game. Again this sickened and quite frankly, frightened me and fortunately I managed to move to a slightly more salubrious spot at halftime but it ruined my afternoon and I could not wait to leave. The difference though was that the mindless abuse was aimed solely at the opposition whereas now it is the Brentford team and management that is more often than not being targeted.
Perhaps the solution is simple and a couple of good wins would end this nasty trend that seems to be becoming more and more prevalent but it is something that is making my visits to football less and less pleasant and I am sure that I am not alone in feeling this way.
I suspect that we have also picked up quite a few floating and glory hunting supporters attracted by our success of last season who have no sense or even interest in the history and tradition of the club and what it stands for and now when results are going against us are quick to criticise or worse without any understanding of the reasons why matters have deteriorated so quickly.
Just look at the Rotherham fans who have become their team’s twelfth man and have contributed so volubly to their recent success. Their sheer passion and nonstop roars of encouragement have helped to turn games in their favour and influence referees, as we learned to our cost. That is what we should be aiming for, a team and band of supporters united as one and working towards a common goal.
I can’t say that I am too thrilled either by a lot of the rubbish that is currently being spouted on social media sites where supporters seem to feel that it is open season on owners, players and managers alike who are subjected without a second thought to torrents of filthy abuse with Dean Smith, Matthew Benham and the Co-Directors of Football being particular recent victims.
Again, there seems to be no sense of tolerance or decency and boundaries of reasonable behaviour seem to have been ignored and overturned. Anyone appears to be fair game for an ever increasing phalanx of mindless keyboard warriors who feel that they have an inalienable right to make their opinions and feelings known however stridently or abusively they wish to express them.
Any criticism of them regarding the way in which they form their arguments and the actual words they have used is either ignored or more commonly results in a further tirade of splenetic abuse and strident claims that they are fully entitled to have their say however they choose to do so. So often they excuse their excesses by claiming that their comments are simply harmless banter but that explanation does not wash for me as anything said or written that is wounding, demeaning and insulting is totally inexcusable and they quite evidently do not know the real meaning of the word.
And that is where the problem lies as many people do not understand just how far they can go and where acceptable behaviour ends. I totally accept that nobody, however exalted should be above criticism but in my opinion it is how that criticism is couched that makes all the difference. Why should anybody read, take in, assimilate or even respond to torrents of crude and foulmouthed abuse? A more reasoned comment, opinion or argument might well generate some sort of answer but I suspect that the intent is generally to shock and mock and promote a sense of self rather than encourage a proper debate.
I am not going to run the risk of being called an old fogey by calling for the return of National Service or the stocks as I am a massive supporter of social media and instant access to the news agenda. Properly used it allows for an immediacy and an honesty, clarity and openness of communication that cannot be matched elsewhere. I just hate it when its powers are abused by mindless oafs who know no better and just spoil things for everyone else.