I have nothing against protests. In my life I’ve been in involved with protest marches against Apartheid, marches in support of Gay Rights, Peace marches, Anti-war rallies, Nuclear Disarmament, and many local government issues.
Protests are good; they are cathartic; they get hate, anxiety, frustration, anger out of the system. And they make you feel as if you are doing something, giving voice to an opinion and showing your feelings in a public forum.Many say that protests have no effect, that they are useless, powerless. I disagree. The solidarity of people is an incredible force, and the raised voices of public opinion is a massive noise that those in power cannot easily dismiss.
Make no mistake, a unified protest of ordinary people is a powerful thing.
However, as usual, what may be good in a social sphere may not be good in football. Just as people say that rules of running a large corporation do not apply to the running of a football club, the same applies to protesting.
The reason is that there are separate entities at play. On the one hand, you have the football team, which we all want to win; on the other hand, there are the people we want out of the club. Unfortunately, acting against one rubs off on the other.
The only way that I can see of separating them is by protesting in two different places. The team is most important, and they play inside St Jams’ Park, therefore the lads need support inside the ground.
Any protest against those we want rid of should be outside the ground.
I can’t see how raging against the regime from the stands can fail to rub off on the performance of the team. If the players are on a knife edge due to anxiety in the crowd, there is little chance of them relaxing into a game, and believe me one of the main things thing that coaches call out to young players is ‘relax’ (those faces Pardew pulled for Cabella a couple of weeks back were about the same thing – relax).
I’ve even read some stuff about fans supporting Hull, Bruce, Ben Arfa. In my view, this is not protest; this is hysteria.
Protest is focused (or it should be); hysteria is unfocused emotional excess.
It must never be forgotten that we sing for Newcastle United, but we protest against a regime we dislike.