Paul Balm Column 15th December

It’s almost Christmas (apparently) and this will probably be my last column of the year. Christmas is a time for the family and you’ll note the lack of a capital F there. I could talk about the crass insensitivity of the timing of their Orange Out night but I get a feeling I disagree with their management and fans on that issue so I won’t go down that road.
It’s also a time for friends, so instead I want to tell you a story about a couple of people I know. I do like the pair of them, and you’d do well to remember that as the story unfolds, but, at times, they make my teeth itch. They’ll know who they are if they read this (and why wouldn’t they, I’m the second most popular current Cat’s Whiskers’ columnist) so I’d better say that I’m only using them as an example, an example I’m sure isn’t repeated in other relationships of a similar nature (should they exist). I’ve chosen these two because they suit what I really want to talk about – a fan’s passion for their team (I nearly just wrote the word passion there but that could have led to a few misinterpretations).

The couple I’m talking about support different teams, and these teams are bitter rivals. In fact there are no two teams in the whole of Europe that have a rivalry as bitter as they do if you believe everything you’re told. Now, unsurprisingly, this can lead to problems. I’ve lost count of the number of arguments this pair have had over the qualities of player F compared to player N, dodgy offside calls or whether local referees should be allowed to officiate at their local games. They’re the only couple that argue about money that isn’t theirs. The list is endless really and I swear both of them have made stuff up just to have a bicker with each other sometimes. They always make up in the end, the length of time it takes just varies.
Now, you might think that this sounds pretty irritating, and you’d be right. You end up wanting to bang their heads together but irritating as it may seem I do feel that it’s the way it should be.
OK, I could do without the arguing but the way they have both continued to support their team is sort of admirable. I’ve seen it happen before that one side or the other will start to slide in the strength of their support purely because of their partner. That just isn’t right, you should support your local team. The team, in many cases, you were brought up watching. I’d be mortified if either of my kids came home one day and said they wanted to support Cardiff (again, an example). It’s bad enough that they’re both from Nottingham and whilst one supports a football team in red and the other a team in black and white stripes neither team has anything to do with their home town.! What if they go to university I hear nobody cry? If there’s an ice hockey team in town they can go and support them (lord knows they’ll probably need the money) but they’ll just need to remember they’re there as a neutral, if there can be such a thing in an ice hockey game in this country.
I can watch the NHL without caring who wins but no matter what the league over here there’s always some reason in the back of my mind that I’ll support one team over another. If the Panthers folded and I ended up watching my hockey somewhere else, Panthers would still be my team. I may grow fond of the other club but I doubt that what I would feel for them would ever be the same as what I feel for the Panthers.

There’s one thing that should be remembered in all this. The vast majority of fans in this country support the team they do because of a simple random act of geography. Ask yourself, and answer seriously, which team would you support if you came from Tinsley, Penarth or Leith? Would you be a Panthers fan? I seriously doubt it. It’s all the luck of the draw, Sheffield fans are probably getting ready to crow that they’re happier because of all the titles they’ve won and that might be the case, but in the grand scheme of things those moments (even when you’ve had as many as they have) are fleeting and there’s nothing like a bit of stability is there? You don’t get all fun but you don’t get a sore backside from it scraping along the floor in between either, you know where you are.

Anyway that’s enough from me for this year. It’s not been a bad year to be a Panther really. It didn’t start well and there’s a fair chance it won’t end well either but the middle wasn’t so bad. I’ve got this horrible feeling that there’ll be some fun times ahead and the fog that clouds all our futures will remain pretty thick when it comes to the future of ice hockey in this country. Are there rocks ahead? I think so. Do we have the captain to pilot a safe course? I don’t know, I think the Panthers have but I think we’ll lose a few in the flotilla before our journeys end.
Finally, I’d like to wish everyone daft enough to still be reading this a Happy Christmas and hope that you all enjoy at least some of Boxing Day too.

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1 Response to “Paul Balm Column 15th December”


  1. 1 Chris December 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Great article once again Paul. Thanks for that, and a merry Christmas to you and yours too!


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