Editorial: Blues need fans' support in good times and in bad

Aucklanders are turning up to the games because the team are winning, but they should be doing so, too, when they're not doing well

You can see it all over the city. More and more people are wearing Blues jerseys, caps and other assorted paraphernalia. You can see it at Eden Park. A bumper crowd of more than 31,000 attended the Blues' match against the Crusaders, the second of their Super 15 campaign. The Blues are winning again and, after several seasons of performances that ranged from ordinary to awful, Aucklanders are relishing the sensation.

The wins over the Hurricanes and the Crusaders were particularly sweet for those who have supported the Blues through thick and thin.

They harboured hopes that better things may lie ahead when the much-respected Sir John Kirwan was appointed coach and set about rekindling a pride and passion that matched his own when he played for Auckland.

They were further reassured when Sir Graham Henry was added to the coaching mix, ensuring that defence and striking power would enjoy equal status.

But only the eternal optimist could have foreseen the rousing manner of the Blues' first two victories.

Some of those hardy fans will doubtless be looking sideways at the people now flocking back to Eden Park.

Auckland is not like England, where soccer fans support a club whatever its ups and downs.

That club may not have won a trophy or even featured in the Premier League for many years, but that does not alter the fervour with which it is followed. Whether it is Manchester United or Mansfield Town, the degree of support rarely wavers.

Nor is there any prospect that these supporters would shift their loyalty to a more successful club. In many walks of life, that would be a logical response; over there it is akin to treason.

Any number of theories have been advanced to explain why this passion is not replicated in Auckland.

The diversity of the population, the large number of Aucklanders who were born elsewhere, and the range of entertainment options all feature in these calculations.

Certainly, the Blues are not alone. The Warriors, for example, find their gates dwindling when they perform poorly.

With fickle supporters departing, it is left, yet again, to a hard core to try to inspire a turnaround in playing fortunes.

Ideally, the reverse should apply. When a team are not playing well, they need passionate support more than ever. English soccer supporters understand that. The constant refrain on fan websites of struggling clubs is "to get behind the lads".

There will be plenty of Aucklanders getting behind the Blues tomorrow at Eden Park when they encounter their first Super 15 challenge from South Africa. That support will be welcome because the Bulls present a difficult proposition for the Blues forwards, in particular.

What would be even more welcome would be for that level of support to remain constant as the Blues go further into what Sir John has promised will be a roller-coaster ride. And if it were to endure even when the team next go through a spell when things are not going well.

Almost 40 years ago, Manchester United was relegated to the second tier of English soccer. Its supporters helped ensure this setback was shortlived.

It would be good to see the same broad-based enthusiasm here, and for those Blues jerseys to be worn in number even when times are bad.

- NZ Herald

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