"Non league football supporters generally fall into two categories. You get the ones who have blind faith in the team and believe you will win every game regardless. They never miss a game. The other sort are the ones who love a moan, particularly on club forums.
I have never really understood the fan who, at the final whistle, dashes to his car, speeds home, turns on his computer and before the players have had their post match shower, and has slagged everyone off. Although I don’t really read them, I know I have been called everything under the sun. What amuses me is that these people make assumptions that are wrong or just shit stir… “my mate was in Nandos and saw so and so who said he hates the manager and wants to leave”. These guys who generally slag you off and shit stir tend like to be seen to be in the know, or like to believe they are some fountain of footballing knowledge.
Like I say, I do occasionally read them, and if I am honest it’s more for amusement than anything. I have read things about me that are so far off the truth it’s laughable. One week I am too good for my club, and the next week I should be sacked as I didn’t play a certain player, and that’s why we lost. They will assume I didn’t play that player because of tactical reasons, and sometime that’s true, but it could be because of all manner of reasons.
I always ensure that all my players and coaching staff mix with supporters in the clubhouse after all games home and away. Very rarely will a supporter come and ask me why I made specific decisions. I find it funny as I would happily tell them why. Most of my fellow managers are the same, they don’t bite, yet people prefer to go home and make wild accusations, rather than come and talk to us.
Except really for the Conference Premier League, nearly all non league teams are part time, including the manager. If you think about how many hours a part time manager works every week (its not just match days and training, you are on the phone relentlessly or out watching games, dealing with player/club issues etc) then it works out at about a couple of quid an hour. On top of that we do our own day jobs and try and spend time with our families, yet we are still slagged off, questioned and abused. You need very thick skin to do this job, and I love it!
Now let’s get one thing straight. For every idiot fan, there are five fantastic ones. The ones who back you, go out of their way to say hello to you and be kind to you – I have received all manner of gifts from food, to crates of beer and joke presents that might refer to something that has happened. I had a bit of a public falling out with another manager a few years ago, and a supporter baked me a cake with the other managers face on it, so I could eat him!
I have been lucky that at a lot of the clubs I have been at to have had wonderful support. Hundreds of your own clubs supporters following you home and away. One particular club I was at had amazing fans. We went through a pretty bad spell once, but they kept turning up in their numbers making a huge racket on other clubs terraces and in their club houses. Most people who know little of non league football think only league teams receive this sort of support, and when mates of mine come and watch my team they are often shocked.
Some things will never change though. Some supporters wherever I am at will think the sun shines out of my bum, others will think I am a “completely clueless and an idiotic tosser, who knows less about football than my nan.”