My Sporting Week... Football is a results business - atmosphere is a poor second

Large crowds - such as this one at Brockville Park in January 1974 - make for an exciting atmosphere, but do they have an impact on the result of the game?
Large crowds - such as this one at Brockville Park in January 1974 - make for an exciting atmosphere, but do they have an impact on the result of the game?

This week our guest columnist tackles the myth of football’s ‘12th man’ and its impact on games.

It’s not a trick question - the simple answer is trophies are won by teams, not fans.

Spare me your patter about the ‘12th man making the difference’. It’s a line trotted out by players and staff, in the moments immediately after clinching a hard-won victory, who need to think of a suitably magnanimous comment to give to the waiting journalists that doesn’t make them sound like an arrogant edjet. More often than not, it’s the reporters that feed them the line. For once, I’d like a player to tell it like it is the next time a sports hack mumbles something about the crowd ‘making the difference’.

For example: “Well actually Chris, I think the reason we got the three points today was due to the fact that we are professional footballers who train five or six days a week to achieve this kind of result.

“In addition to that, our backroom staff spent extensive time researching the weaknesses in our opponents so that we could capitalise on them accordingly.

“You may not have noticed, but the other team has an extensive record this season of failing to defend crosses to their back post. That’s the reason we kept playing those looping balls into the six yard box - you know, the ones that directly led to three of our goals today?

“And the manager went with an ambitious 4-1-3-2 system was because we have good attacking players, and we’ve all seen milk turn quicker than their midfield.

“So I guess you could say that this comprehensive 6-0 win had absolutely nothing to do with the amusing chant our fans came up with about the opposition captain’s recent marital difficulties.”

Hibs fans were rightly praised this week for their impressive vocal performance at Hampden Park on Sunday, despite their team being stuffed 3-0 by a Celtic side in cruise control.

The Hibee masses easily outsung their Celtic counterparts throughout the Scottish Cup final. But did it have any impact on the result? Please, don’t bother writing in with the answer.

Hibs will win the cup when they have a team good enough to do so. In the meantime, all the singing in the world won’t help.