The sad sound of boos ringing around Fratton
I have a mate who boos Pompey.
He’s been supporting the club his whole life, is born and bred in the area and is as dyed-in-the-wool royal blue as anyone I know.
But he will boo a poor performance. He will boo an individual player and makes no apology about it.
He booed at half-time and full-time on Saturday. He booed Drew Talbot’s every touch of the ball and cheered when he was replaced by Kyle Bennett.
I must admit, I don’t get it. I really can’t fathom it.
But judging by the reactions from the home crowd against Oldham, he’s far from the only person keen to make their voice heard in such a manner.
At half-time on Saturday my blood was boiling. I was as angry as I’d been at a Pompey performance for a couple of years.
The reasons for that weren’t the individual errors. It wasn’t the chasms in the Blues back line, or even the fact Kenny Jackett’s side were coming off comfortably second best to a struggling, managerless opponent.
It was the lack of energy exhibited which did it. It was the willingness to sit off the opponent and watch them cut swathes through their rivals.
It was the dearth of the qualities which have nothing to do with talent and are everything about the basic prerequisites for a decent performance, which had the veins popping.
But I would never have considered booing for a second.
Okay, the sight of a journalist voicing his dissent, hissing and shouting from the back of the South Stand, may not be press box etiquette.
But the reaction would have been the same, no matter the vantage point.
Of course, the frustration is entirely understandable. It really, really is. Anyone not needled by what they witnessed on Saturday was not there for Pompey.
It’s the distance been that angst and the decision to exhibit that sentiment through in-game boos which is troubling.
I probably have booed a Blues team before. I couldn’t honestly say either way. But the day I realised it was an exercise in futility would have been the day I never did it again. And I’m willing to wager that was a distance before I paid for my first adult ticket.
The simple question, of course, is what does it achieve?
At best, it could possibly make the protagonist feel better about themselves. They may feel a degree of satisfaction at making themselves heard.
Surely that’s far outweighed, however, by the negativity it creates.
The evidence is overwhelming that when it happens nothing positive occurs. The climate of fear it creates is not one conducive to a player or team producing their best football.
Passes start to go sideways and backwards instead of forwards. Self-doubt reigns as confidence ebbs away.
Witnessing Talbot become the latest individual to suffer at the hands of the boo boys was uncomfortable viewing.
There are plenty who’ve gone before the defender and received such flak. Carl Tiler, Matt Robinson, and Aaron Mokoena spring to mind over the past couple of decades.
The same goes for Hayden Mullins and Johnny Ertl. Both went on to pick up player-of-the-year titles.
Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith also suffered flak last term and became title-winning mainstays.
Players and management should not be free of criticism and no-one is advocating following your team should be a one-eyed process.
There are other ways but if booing is deemed the only manner of doing so, it’s best placed in the game’s aftermath.
Ultimately, supporters pay their entry and there’s no argument they have freedom – within the freedom of the law – to make their feelings known as they see fit.
It’s always felt deflating, though, when booing’s the chosen medium.