The FA Cup third round used to guarantee any club luck enough to get a home draw, a bumper crowd, but it looks like those days have passed.
At the DW Stadium on Saturday, those Premier League giants Wigan and Hull played before just 5,335 people. That’s pathetic and makes you wish that the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Leeds would get their act together.
They weren’t the only top flight clubs whose attendance was well down on their normal average. Another all Premier League affair, saw Villa hosting Blackburn. Only 25,473 attended, compared to the Premier League average at Villa Park of of 37,780.
Sunderland drew just 25,190 to their game against Barrow, despite normally averaging 40,551 in the league. Bolton’s game against Lincoln saw them drop 10,000 off their expected gate. Stoke drew just 15,587 to their game with York.
Tottenham Hotspur however, attracted 35,862 to our 4-0 win over Peterborough, a gate in excess of our league average of 35,803.
There are some mitigating circumstances for our large attendance. It was the second of the ‘free’ cup games given to our season ticket holders, of which there are over 20,000. Peterborough also seemed to have filled their allocation, which is probably due to it being a very easy away trip for them and the fact that our team is so damn sexy to watch.
I recognise that the FA Cup third round comes at a very expensive time of the year, which is obviously going to hit attendances when clubs insist upon charging astronomical prices and when the nation is in the middle of a massive recession. There’s also the well known fact that Londoners are all Loadsamoney-types, who trip up over wads of £10 notes when they get out of bed in the morning. Spurs aren’t in Europe either, so our fans haven’t had that many games to attend.
Yet even taking all of this into account and imagining that the game against Peterborough required everyone in the stadium to buy a fresh ticket, rather than just rip a voucher out of their season ticket book, I still can’t imagine our attendance being hit quite as hard as some other clubs have been.
I don’t think that supporters of other clubs quite get how many supporters we have and they probably won’t until we are filling out our new 60,000 stadium every week. There are thousands of Spurs fans, who due to the limited number of tickets available for each game, can only attend the odd match per season. In a world where to just buy a ticket for a one off match against decent opposition, necessitates first spending £30 on a membership, cup games are a godsend to the occasional White Hart Lane visitor.
We’ve now got Leeds in the next round and I expect a sell out match between two well supported clubs from different divisions, even though it will doubtless be shown on the box. It’s what the FA Cup is all about.