WARREN BARLOW'S JUNIOR FOOTBALL COLUMN: 2014 will bring with it a year full of optimism

A NEW year can bring fresh hope, reinforce an old one or offer opportunity to clean the slate and do things differently.

I go into 2014 with lots of optimism but one area which is still of concern is the natural human trait of mimicking behaviour.

This is especially concerning when we think of how copying adult behaviour can have on youngsters.

It reinforces the need for good role models.

On New Year’s day I went to the Reebok to watch the Whites take on Middlesbrough and as I took up my seat near gate NT2 I didn’t know I was going to witness mass human mimicking in action, but within 20 minutes it was there for all to see.

Bolton had been sloppy in defence, but in particular Zat Knight was seen as the villain as Bolton went 2-0 down.

There were a few boos as Bolton took the restart, but they started to grow as adults and youngsters started to mimic those booing.

A short time later the ball was played to Zat and the boos grew louder in the stadium as more people joined the chorus and the atmosphere was horrendous with around 8,000 booing his every touch.

My son and I stood up, clapped and shouted: “Come on Zat, head up lad. Come on Whites.”

Others mimicked us, and you could see the tide of the crowd in our corner was changing and soon spread to other parts.

At half time the female steward at gate NT2 came to my son and I, and at first I thought I was in trouble for standing up, but she said: “On behalf of Bolton Wanderers I would like to thank you for your support of Zat Knight when many others were booing.”

This is the essence of singing at grounds where the atmosphere can change dependant on an individual or group who can be funny, enthusiastic, supportive or even aggressive.

The trait you display can have a huge affect on others and like I mentioned earlier especially so in youngsters.

I worry about the professional game with players using foul and abusive language on TV, managers and pundits undermining officials and close up of fans with contorted faces abusing players near to the touchline.

We can’t do anything about those role models, but we certainly can with regards to our own behaviour.

We are charged with providing the best possible environment for all to enjoy the game in our league.

Lets set the bar high and when others try to lower it, raise it higher again and show that good behaviour and positive support is the trait we want others to mimic!

Do that and 2014 will be a very good year indeed!

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