Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

IF football is a supply and demand industry in England, then on first glance it appears to be working. Crowds in the Premier League are at their highest level since the 1950s and some clubs have waiting lists for season tickets that stretch back years and years. True, there is an argument that “modern football” is pricing people, notably the traditional working-class out of the … Continue reading Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

1971-72 – the title chase to end all title chases

MALCOLM ALLISON, that big, brash, iconic figure from the early 1970s, once said the period between 1967 and 1972 was a golden age for English football. Of course, during that time, Manchester City were very successful, so naturally, Allison would look back on this six -year spell as special. But this was an age where the big prizes were not monopolised, no matter how hard … Continue reading 1971-72 – the title chase to end all title chases

Time for football to look after its own

BURY’s recent expulsion from the Football League was a reminder that the overall state of English football is not as resilient as top Premier League income streams would have you believe. The reality is that many clubs still live hand-to-mouth and revenues at the lower end of the 92-club structure are merely a fraction of what the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool enjoy. Mismanagement … Continue reading Time for football to look after its own

Manchester United, the religious argument

ACADEMICS somewhere in the world are probably debating right now whether football has replaced religion as a defining element of society. To some people, football is the prominent feature of their life, the opium that drags them away from the mundane. The importance of the game, to those who have little else to lift their lives, was highlighted in the press a year or so … Continue reading Manchester United, the religious argument

The FA Cup: It all started with the Daily Mirror

THE FA CUP used to be VERY special. The final was listed as part of the social season in Letts diaries, a status that didn’t mean much to the man on the Highbury terrace, because “social calendar” meant the blazered types that turned up at major sporting events such as test matches, Ascot and Wimbledon without having too much interest in the sports themselves. The … Continue reading The FA Cup: It all started with the Daily Mirror

Boosted by Buchan – Chelsea’s forgotten title of 1916

FOOTBALL in the two World Wars has largely been overlooked by historians. It was only in recent years that the contribution of the sport to public morale during times of conflict was acknowledged. This replaced what was a feeling of discomfort about a mere pastime being continued during a time of intense strife. The game in the Great War has often been swept under scullery … Continue reading Boosted by Buchan – Chelsea’s forgotten title of 1916

61 fouls – the story of triumph over an ideology

IN NOVEMBER 1934, England met World Champions Italy in London in a game that has forever been known as “The Battle of Highbury”. This tag was no accident, however, for whatever was going to happen on that gloomy afternoon in North London, a football match was always going to become a theatre of war. On the road to war Europe in the 1930s was an … Continue reading 61 fouls – the story of triumph over an ideology

Why we all should treasure football’s urban roots

FOOTBALL is a sport that flourished during the industrial revolution, especially the professional game, so naturally, stadiums sprung up in red-bricked back streets, on the fringes of mill towns and close to mines, factories and railways. The vision of the working class community trudging to the game, flat caps screwed onto heads, turned-up collar and woollen scarf protecting the supporters from the elements, is one … Continue reading Why we all should treasure football’s urban roots

Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

IF football is a supply and demand industry in England, then on first glance it appears to be working. Crowds in the Premier League are at their highest level since the 1950s and some clubs have waiting lists for season tickets that stretch back years and years. True, there is an argument that “modern football” is pricing people, notably the traditional working-class out of the … Continue reading Opium for the masses – the cost of Premier addiction

England’s 1,000 – it hasn’t always been grand

BBC RADIO FIVE has selected its all-time England XI and the results are, perhaps predictably, a little influenced by “presentism”. This is what makes the fun exercise of picking “best ever” teams somewhat flawed – the past is often so deeply buried that the merits of ancient players often get forgotten. You’ve also got to consider that different eras create contrasting styles of football and … Continue reading England’s 1,000 – it hasn’t always been grand

When Saturday Comes – why we should help the trailblazer

BACK in the 1980s, football was in a miserable place. Plagued by hooliganism, supporters taken for granted, falling crowds, a poor product on the pitch and dreadful spectating conditions. From catering to care, the industry was a second-rate pastime followed by people who were almost embarrassed to admit they watched football on a regular basis. What’s more the government didn’t like football and with each … Continue reading When Saturday Comes – why we should help the trailblazer

1915: When football seemed unimportant

IT HAS been known down the years as “The Khaki Final”, owing to the vast number of soldiers in military uniform watching the game. While the event is well known, the outcome of the match has been largely overlooked in history. Many people will struggle to name the two finalists: Sheffield United and Chelsea. But this game, coming at the end of the 1914-15 season, … Continue reading 1915: When football seemed unimportant

In praise of the simple vimpel

WE ALL love bringing a souvenir back from our travels, from snow globes to sombreros, the British have always overloaded their suitcases with objet d’art or tat from their travels. Look carefully in your own home, is there any evidence of a life spent in airport lounges and beaches on the Med? From my own perspective, I cannot claim to be immune from this addiction … Continue reading In praise of the simple vimpel