The great Jock Stein played his part in changing the face of football. The legendary manager was famously quoted as saying, “football without the fans is nothing” how right he was! Here at 90 Minute Cynic, we want to reinforce the great mans words and give the games most important people, the fans, their say.
Today we speak to Paul Riley. Paul enjoys football, golf and the occasional pint. Follow Paul on twitter @arabmackem
What team do you support?
I am a supporter of Dundee United with my two young sons who are season ticket holders. Also regularly attend the Stadium Of Light to watch Sunderland where I grew up as a boy.
How often to you go to watch your team?
Every home game for DUFC work permitting and regularly away though also watch about 6-10 SAFC games each season.
What’s your first memory of “going to the football”?
Sitting on the wall at the front of the Fulwell End at Roker Park watching Sunderland beat Man United. The noise, colour and sheer numbers was amazing. I was about 6 years old and fell in love with football that day.
What do you think of entrance prices at football?
Football clubs and authorities have lost the plot. I remember as a 16 year old having a season ticket for Tannadice in 1987 when they played Barca, Borrussia and Gothenburg to name a few that year. Every match in every cup and league included. The ticket prices for Barca were £10 and there was uproar locally despite discount if you went to previous home games. My season cost £20!! It isn’t that long ago but it’s becoming increasingly unaffordable. If you make it affordable people will attend. Fact!
What’s your average spend on match days?
At DUFC not a lot as we have ST but even a hot dog, juice and a programme will mean excess of £20 and that’s without admission costs.
On going to the Stadium of Light for me and my 8 yo son it’s nearer £100 for tickets, food and a programme and that’s before travel costs!!! Working mans game – I think not!
Do you buy club merchandise from official club outlets if not why not?
With two young kids, I buy a lot. Each year they have kits, scarves, hats, tracksuits and school bags. For my youngest it ain’t too bad as he is 4 and can buy a mini kit but for the eldest who is 8 it’s ridiculous. At Xmas to buy the home kit for SAFC with PL badges and a name and number was £89. It’s fine saying you don’t need the number etc but that’s what kids want and the clubs just financially exploit this.
Do you think your club could be doing more to “connect”with fans?
In this respect I think I am fortunate. DUFC have the Arabtrust which is a supporters group with representation on the board of the club and also believe that SAFC listen to the views of the supporters on important matters.
Are you in favour of reintroducing standing areas at stadiums?
Very difficult one this. Growing up especially in my teenage years I had some amazing times watching football on the terraces. But given the safe environment in all seated stadiums I can watch football now with my am not sure I do want terraces back. The clubs wouldn’t pass the cash saving onto supporters and if one person is hurt or even worse killed then its too much. In my opinion safe standing areas would mean less people being in that specific area and it was the standing against hundreds of others close knit that provided the atmosphere and that wouldn’t be allowed.
Do you play at any level?
I am 42 but played variety of levels until mid-late 30’s and saw the cost spiralling yet there were no improvement in facilities.
Do you or would you consider coaching at any level?
I am the manager coach of my sons team, Ferry Athletic. To be involved I have to attend all the relevant coaching courses but the whole system is tied up in bureaucracy and red tape rather than letting kids have a ball and encouraging to play. That said kids get amazing opportunities to play football nowadays often on the latest 4th generation pitched throughout the year that can only be good!
If you could implement one thing for the good of the game what would it be?
I would have a panel of three retired players on a Monday go through all pro matches giving retrospective bans for diving and cheating. It’s getting completely out of hand so much so young kids will dive and roll about on the floor. Bans would soon stop this and the kids from doing the same.
Favourite moment following your team?
DUFC winning the Scottish Cups in 1994 & 2010 and SAFC beating NUFC 2-1 when Roy Keane was in charge. Amazing experiences.
Favourite football moment not featuring your team?
Manchester City winning the PL on the lady day lady year. I was at the SOL and couldn’t stand watching MUFC win the league at Sunderland so left when the injury time went up. By the time I got to the car MCFC had scored 2 and won the league. Unbelievable!!
If you could have been at any game in history what would it be?
1966 World Cup Final!
The thing that annoys you most about football?
The rising costs is changing the fans that can afford to attend matches especially at the top level and diluting atmospheres. A man attending games with his kids is in serious danger of becoming a thing if the past. Also despise the money agents are taking out the game.
What do you think of the transfer window? Should it stay or should clubs be allowed to buy at any point of the season?
I quite like the transfer windows and bit certainly brings drama towards the end if the windows. Just never really understand why the clubs leave it so late. Keep it for me.
What makes your club so special?
The clubs I support, I can never be accused of being a glory hunter and as such this makes our great wins oh so much bigger and better than the giants of the football world. The wins live longer and the defeats are easier to erase. DUFC & SAFC are in my heart and always will be. You don’t change your team.
Anything else you want to say?
Follow your team through thick and thin and enjoy your football. Proud to be an Arab. H’Way the Lads!