Sunday, 12 June 2011

Dave Boyle: an afternoon with a true football fan

I was having a few beers with Dave Boyle in the Amersham Arms in New Cross, on the brilliant afternoon last month when AFC Wimbledon won promotion to the Football League.

Dave was - until last Friday - Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, the campaign for community and fan ownership of sports clubs. He was forced to resign because one of SD's main funders, the Premier League, got wind of a couple of fairly blue tweets Dave posted in the euphoric minutes after Wimbledon won the tie on penalties.

I thought they were dead funny. He hazed a few powerful enemies of the peoples' game by name, but we'd had more than three, so he got at least one of those names wrong to start off with. Pop psychologist and  pundit Raj Persaud must have wondered what he'd done to deserve an invitation to vigorous oral sex. It turned out Dave's intended was actually Raj Parker, one of the panel of three that approved the decision to take the old Wimbledon and relocate it lock stock and barrel to Milton Keynes. Unfortunately for Dave, Twitter allows such mistakes to be instantly corrected.

The Premier League didn't just get Dave's head. They've apparently decided to cut off SD's funding completely. I'm not going into the realpolitik and vindictiveness of this - it's well covered in the press and social media. Suffice to say, if Richard Scudamore of the Premier League had got snitched on for mooning the opposition out of a minibus window, he might have been in hot water - but would the game decide to close the League down? I doubt it.

Anyway, as we were watching the game via a jerky feed on Dave's laptop in the Amersham, he explained to me how promotion for the supporter-owned AFC Wimbledon - a club he helped found via an ad in the south west London press for players, after a founding meeting in a local pub - would be not just a fulfilment of one of his dreams, but would feel like a vindication of everything he's worked so hard for over the last ten years (and there can be no doubt he and the rest of the team at Supporters Direct have done a brilliant job).

When it got to penalties, Dave could barely watch. When they won, he went temporarily - and entertainingly - bonkers for a few minutes. It was infectious; I wasn't the only one in the Amersham grinning from ear to ear. Suddenly, it was one of those beautiful, sunny spring afternoons when all's right with the world.

We went our separate ways. I stayed on the train while Dave changed, to get his connection for London Bridge and then home, where he was planning to continue the celebrations with local comrades. As he got out of the carriage, he stuck his head back round the door, gave me a thumbs up, and said: "It's been emotional!"

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  2. The reason Dave was in New Cross was because he had been at a conference on media co-ops jointly organised by my union, the NUJ, on the same day. It was a long standing engagement and he'd originally thought he might have time to get to Wembley for a final. Of course, it was staged in Manchester - another great decision by the football authorities. Any football fan knows how hard it is to put off something their own team is involved in, and the fact that Dave choose to put his long-standing commitment first says a lot about the quality of the man. I bet Charlie Sale's diary won't run that! Well, unless it's to emphasise the "left-wing activist" line.

  3. A good anecdote to read Sion.
    My family put money into AFC when it started and my wife was up in Manchester to witness the magic. And yes of course I see AFC in a utopian way... As in when it all collapses its going to be well-organised outfits like fan controlled football clubs that could provide a model and lead on how to get stuff done.
    Did you hear about the current project to activate the archives and memory of Brixton Artists Collective 1983 - 87?

  4. Dave is a true gent, passionate football supporter, well versed in the engine that is Supporter input and control and ramifications of the league's decisions over his wee celebration will inevitably tsunami on into a wider area. I'm no leftie, but you can see now this is a time where football supporters across the UK and abroad need to consolidate what power they have and ensure Supporters Direct does not suffer such woeful and wilful bullying.

  5. Sounds like Dave Boyle's tweets was the excuse the Premier League were looking for and shows again the total arrogance of Richard Scudamore and the PL.

  6. Are you Bugsy the Paint, Sion? As in this :

  7. (Snarls from corner of mouth) Who wants ta know?

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  9. Very nice post.really I apperciate your blog.Thanks for sharing.keep sharing more blogs.