New Forest, New Forest

Paul Balm is back to talk about introductions, hatred & noisy blocks.

One of the reasons I haven’t written much lately is that nothing much has happened or, and this happens quite often, the same things keep happening season after season. You end up writing about the same things over and over again (sometimes inadvertently) and that becomes boring very quickly for me and more importantly for you the reader.

That means that in my head there’s no point writing about the ineffectiveness of DOPS because I’ve already talked about it. We’ve already been here before last season and the seasons before that. I know there was no DOPS in many of the previous seasons but the same sort of (lack of/contentious/ridiculous/insert your own word of choice here) decisions have been made for as long as I have been watching and later on writing about ice hockey. I know part of what it is to be a fan is to moan about these decisions – they’re too lenient, too harsh or whatever but for me to write articles about how flawed the system is every year seems a bit of a waste.

The same goes for Panthers new intro video. I KNOW we’ve definitely been here before. I could go on and on about how poor I think it is. OK, it’s better than last year’s but I wasted enough time and type on that for a lifetime of articles. It’s better but that’s not saying a lot. It seems to point out two things to me – 1) the quality of our highlights isn’t very good and 2) a question: why does the list of honours only start in 2009/10? Some of the others are briefly referenced in photo form but they’re lessened without any context. I asked Panthers why this was the case and unfortunately they didn’t reply. It’s true that 2009/10 onwards has been something of a “golden era” (or maybe that should be silver) particularly in comparison to the years before but it feels like they’re largely ignoring what went before. Mind you should we really expect anything else from a club that doesn’t have banners commemorating their victories (a good thing) or that cheerfully sells merchandise with incorrect dates on (a bad thing).

So, and I appreciate you wouldn’t believe it if you’ve got this far, what do you do when you’ve got nothing to write about? Two things really – 1) don’t bother, just sit back and do nothing or 2) look too hard for ideas and end up writing about something that’s probably not worth writing about in the first place.

The latter of which brings me to Wednesday. It will probably have slipped your notice that Wednesday marked the 14th anniversary of my son’s 5th birthday party but less importantly it marks the night that Kristian Taubert and Paxton Schulte had such a nice fight that Barry Nieckar decided to join in. Don’t worry if you didn’t realise, it’s not that significant in either team’s history. I’ve seen far worse and better before and since and I’ve no doubt they have too but it seems that not everyone shares my opinion (nothing new there). I saw this Wednesday night posted alongside a video of the incident:

Strong words. It got me wondering about how someone gets to a situation where they hate a team that much. What causes it? I know teams do things that other people might not like but surely to hold something like that within you can’t be good for you can it? I know people talk about this phony one way rivalry between Giants and Panthers but to say you hate a team with that much passion and vehemence? To be honest I feel sorry for them more than anything. I’ve thought about it since I knew I was going to write this up until the point where I’m correcting it now and I can honestly say that I don’t hate anyone. People will probably say I’m supposed to hate the Steelers but I don’t. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean that I like them. I’ve spent enough time poking fun at them, enjoying their defeats and misfortunes or raising questions about how they do things (I’ve also probably spent more time querying how Panthers do things than Steelers to be fair) to be able to say that, but hate? No. I’m no saint, I’m not trying to come across as some holier than thou preacher telling anyone how to live their life. I’m in no position to do that, trust me. At the end of the day, the person who sent that tweet is a lot like the Panthers, they’re both going to continue along their course regardless of what I say.

*In case you’re wondering NFNF doesn’t mean they’re a big Nottingham Forest fan or they’re trying to give the New York, New York treatment to the New Forest. It stands for Never Forgive, Never Forget.

All of which brings me rather messily (it worked so well until I added that last sentence) to the campaign that’s just started to create a noisy block in the NIC. There was going to be a reference to them singing “If you all hate the Steelers…” that set this up beautifully. Never mind.

So, there’s a campaign to create a “noisy block” in block 17. I know I was trying not to repeat myself but we’ve been here before. I’m glad someone is trying to do this, we probably do need more atmosphere in the arena but I’m also glad it’s going to be at the other end of the building. I might be boring but I don’t want to be chanting all game. I had more than my fill of “Just Can’t Get Enough” 30 odd years ago to be overjoyed to hear it multiple times week in week out in the 21st century.

I can see trouble ahead though. If something like this is going to work it needs to attract people – one person stood at the back of the block can sing as loud as they like they won’t get heard – but you’re not going to do that if you state, as I have seen, that the very people you’re trying attract have a reputation for being boring. Now, that might be right in my case, but is it really the case? (and if it is should you be saying it? That’s a different question). There’ll be a large number of people attending games who won’t have a clue what is going on (with block 17 I mean, although…), people who are attending their first game, come intermittently or who just don’t do social media. You’re never going to be able to reach out to them or at least I don’t know how you would do it.

Are people going to want to move? I like sitting where I sit. I don’t really want to move to block 17 (mainly because the thought of watching Panthers defend close up for two periods instead of one fills me with dread) and if I did how could I do it? I’ve got a season ticket so I can’t just change where I’m buying my ticket each week. For me this would have been better raised during the off season when people are renewing season tickets etc. as they’re almost certainly mainly appealing to the regular fan (and I know that not all regular fans have season tickets before you point it out).

Don’t get me wrong, as I said earlier, I’m glad this is happening, I just think that some elements of it could have been handled better.

%d bloggers like this: