Here's my take on things.
I've been going since 1976 & the atmosphere has always been the driving force behind my passion for football.
We couldn't get 4 tickets together in the singing section so headed for the very back of block 524. I'm 52 years old but I just don't like sitting down at football. it just doesn't feel right. If I am forced to sit then I'm up & down like a yo-yo anyway so I know that the back row is always a safe bet for standing.
Everyone was stood up before KO & it was ticking along nicely but a soon as the ref blew the whistle the entire block just sat down. I looked to my left and all the Villa fans remained standing and did so throughout the game. I said to my brother that I didn't like the feel of this and he agreed. Anyway we remained standing, joined in with all the songs & tried getting a few started but it just wasn't happening. We then noticed the amount of empty seats in our end of the ground & felt that something must have gone wrong with the system and that a lot of genuine fans had missed out. The general feeling i got was that it just wasn't going to be our day.
Anyway as the game went on we concluded that the best thing to happen would be to go a goal behind to kick start the team & encourage the substitutions we needed to spark everyone into action. I knew this team had got plenty of bottle and were capable of giving it a go. Everything went to plan, well apart from the 2nd goal, but even then I thought we could still do something.
On came the subs, in goes the goal and it's game on. Everyone's on their feet singing and for the first time in the game i had the feeling we could do it.
Then, as soon as it kicked off again, everyone sat back down & that was it !!! That was the moment that killed it for me. 9 mins to go in the biggest game of the season and we haven't got the energy to push them over the line. With a few genuine exceptions, then surely the pure adrenalin of it all would overcome age, shyness or even superglue on your seat for 9 bloody minutes. I was genuinely gutted but persevered until the bitter end and stayed until the players left the pitch.
Ok, that's yesterday dealt with, now for atmosphere in football overall.
Firstly, I am only a half fan these days so accept that any observations i make are done so without a mandate from the people.
The reason I am now a half fan is because, after many years of solid home & away, I finally gave up on Pride Park. The reason for this was that I simply did not enjoy going their anymore. Over the years it appeared to me that a culture of negativity was consuming the place & it was breeding fast and taking the atmosphere with it. Now I fully accept that you pay your money and you're entitled to watch the game how you see fit and that's not a problem. The thing that galled me was the fact that a large number of fans were quite capable of making noise but only in a negative way. Try and get a song started & they look at you gone out but one misplaced pass and they're on their feet spouting vitriol with the best of them. Then, to top it all, they get up & go home with 10 mins to go, irrespective of the situation in the pitch. This culture just seemed to spread & grow over the years and, eventually, it wore me down. The enjoyment had gone so it's just away games for me now, I'm afraid.
Now the away games can still be good, but again, it appears to me that a culture has developed amongst our singers. It's a culture of pre match binge drinking that creates wonderful atmospheres in the pubs before games but has its own drawbacks. By the time a lot of our singers arrive at the ground their voices are croaking, they are out of tune & by half time, they're asleep. Now, I'm teetotal and can assure everyone that you don't need to be as pi55ed as a fart to create an atmosphere. In fact, more times than often, it can be an hinderence. You will just be halfway through a rip roaring 'We are Derby" when a slurred voice interrupts proceedings with a croaky, out of tune musing about someone called Collymore and kills everything stone dead. I don't think the amount of swearing helps either. Is it really necessary to slip the f word into every song when there are perfectly acceptable alternatives. My opinion is that simple songs, sang loudly are the best and I think that showed with the Villa support yesterday ( and that galls me to have to say ).
Anyway, I've waffled enough so to sum up from a personal point of view and for the reasons stated above:
Pride Park - I'm out for the foreseeable future & with a heavy heart.
Away games - I'm still in by the skin of my teeth & with a glimmer of hope in my heart.
My love of Derby County Football Club - well, that's going to the grave with me.
A final word goes to BurtonRam - keep going lad and don't give up on the atmosphere. I'm relying on you to get my mojo back.
UTR - DTID