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Failed Expectations?: Is the Premier League all it’s cracked up to be?

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We can all admit it; that initial wave of ecstasy and surreal realisation that our little team was about to be in the Premier League for the first time (excluding our two seasons in 1970 in ‘division 1’) was something that will never leave us.

The excitement to be on Match of the Day, actual town players in Premier League sticker albums and an entrance into the national consciousness for the first time in many a year.

However, was the hype all it’s cracked up to be?

On the one hand, there have certainly been magical moments we will treasure forever. Moments like beating Man United 2-1 at the JSS, smashing Watford 4-1 at Vicarage Road or the memorable win at Crystal Palace on the opening day of the season to announce our presence are etched into our memories forever. On the other hand,  there have been other trends which have soured my own vision of what life in the top-flight of English football is like.

The first is the ever-increasing disparity between the so-called ‘top 6’ and literally everyone else.

Whilst every club receives the same amount of money (£100m) each season from the new TV deal, the gulf in quality between these six clubs and the rest of the division is stark, depressing and only getting bigger.

The idea of any team beating one of the big boys at their own grounds provides such a shock to the rest of the division it’s almost celebrated like an FA Cup upset.

What then follows is a Spanish inquisition from said club’s fans on social media, fan channels or mainstream media the next day about how catastrophic the defeat is and how abysmal they played.

There is barely any recognition of the other team’s actual great performance or the tactics employed by the manager in question about how he masterminded the victory.

Instead, rhetoric and narratives surrounding the game usually involve pinning a capitulation or refereeing decision to the outcome of the game.

What this ends up provoking in so-called lesser teams is a backs-to-the-wall mentality. We end up constantly fighting for the scraps of coverage between ourselves, refereeing injustices can produce cries of conspiracy theories and the camaraderie between us that we enjoyed in the Football League is diminished in some way (but not completely at least).

This brings me onto my next point: the fans.

In the Football League, whilst there were certainly certain clubs with loud and particularly moronic minorities (Leeds, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday to name a few notorious examples), it was very rare you encountered the kind of arrogant, entitled and patronising fan we now experience in the Premier League.

What makes the Football League what it is is the camaraderie between 99% of clubs. All of us had been through various stages of ‘thick and thin’, have seen our club at its very worst and very best and the shared experiences that brought created good relationships between most clubs fans.

Rivalries were, of course, fierce between some clubs but never bubbled over into anything beyond the localities of that particular game.

What I’ve found in the Premier League is a general ignorance of us as a club, knowledge of our players or respect shown towards us. If you asked most Premier League fans to name 5 players from Huddersfield, Brighton, Watford or a similar club, they would probably struggle.

There is such a blind fixation on the top 6 that seemingly all other clubs are given lesser status, research or simply attention.

The amount of times I’ve listened incredulously on a particular football show where ‘pundits’ just lazily make error after error when it comes to my team is staggering.

Of course, this must be the case for other teams outside the top 6 too but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

The tribalism is also ratcheted up to cringe-worthy levels. You hear some fans say they will only watch England games when players from their own clubs are in the starting eleven, arrogance and entitlement and ‘plastic’ attitudes infect football conversations.

It’s stuff you used to have to put up with in school but now it’s grown men doing it. We gave Harry Kane a standing ovation when he almost single-handedly beat us 4-0 and the rest of the League reacted as if we had built a statue of him.

Class is not a quality that should send shockwaves across football.

Whilst I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this dream Premier League season, it certainly isn’t the utopian land of dreams perhaps some Town fans thought we’d be walking into.

It’s a minefield laced with inequality, cynical and snobbish behaviour and a general disregard for the working man and woman who wish to afford to watch the game they love.