The positive side of a great game

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Football fans are often much maligned and get likened to everything from Attila the Hun, to Begby, from the film Trainspotting.

Football has always been about passion, excitement and dedication and it’s true that often those emotions combine to get the better of an individual.

A true fan mates with his or her team for life, you live football, you are not just a spectator but a participant, you have a duty to engage in the life of the team and those individuals that you covet so dearly, on a Saturday afternoon at home, or a wet Wednesday night away in Hartlepool.

Rituals are important too; the pre-match pint is often carefully planned in a boozer that has been “lucky” before and some even go for the two pies at half time approach, due to a previous slice of good fortune, which occurred shortly before the indigestion.

There is kinship between opposing supporters and lifelong bonds that are forged between different generations of the same family, the strongest of which is usually between father and son.

Most fans support the team that their dad did because he was the one that bought them their first scarf and their first half-time cup of brown liquid, that masqueraded as Bovril.

Many of you reading this will have vivid memories of those formative experiences that you shared with the old man; his rather colourful description of the referee may have come as a shock but it was your little secret, your memory, mum didn’t need to know.

Since the late 60s much of the media’s coverage of football has focused on the negative, they have almost forgotten about the positive side of the game and the important part supporters play in it.

Like the fans of Peterborough United, often described as fickle or faint hearted, the same supporters who have just amassed just over £70,000 towards the building of a statue, to the late, great, Chris Turner.

The money could have been raised with the help of donations from big companies but how fitting that such a man of the people should have a statue in his honour, paid for by the people, his people, true Peterborough United fans.

The Posh Independent Supporters Association has led the effort, spurred on by the loveable rogue that is Adi Moles – a true football fan, in every sense of the word!

Even Chris’s widow, Lynne, thought the task almost impossible, but she hadn’t counted on Adi’s commitment, drive and incredible powers of persuasion.

He, and countless others, have worked tirelessly to make this possible and come September, the famous ‘Turner’ smile will once again be beaming down at London Road.

You can only guess at what he would have made of Posh’s capitulation against the MK Dons last week; according to Lynne, she would have been in the spare bed on Saturday night and the players called in for extra training on Sunday morning!

He was all about passion, commitment and hard work – he did not suffer fools or slackers and wasn’t shy to voice his opinion about both.

How poignant then, that it’s those positive attributes that have made this all possible. The very qualities that he instilled in others has put a true man of the people back where he belongs; the big man, once again watching over us.

It’s people power in action, the positive side of football, a game that has the power to unite like no other, and there was no better exponent of that art than the late Chris Turner.