Like some lost kingdom

9 12 2009

Having just read two books (one a re-read) about sportsmen doing great things in the 1950s I  feel nostalgic for a certain view of 1950s.  (The Perfect Mile and My Father and other Working Class Football Heroes in case you’re wondering about the titles).  Even when the sentimental gloss is removed, especially from the study of Landy, Santee and Bannister’s endeavours, you still get a certain sense of the 1950s; simpler, more relaxed and better?; The revolution was closer after all. Even accepting the conditions that Britain and the world found itself in (Widespread racism, Polio, A Nuclear arms race, rationing in Britain, the retain-and-transfer system in football’s case) you could say that it was a “better” time in some ways.

Take Landy, Santee and Bannister. All three saw athletics as something temporary (they all had jobs), something that you should care about but not at the expense of everything else. Sport was not to be taken too seriously. In football the players existed in the same milleu as their clubs’ fans; catching the same buses or, even more prosaically, fixing their drains, as the clichés have it. While the medieval relationship between clubs and their player, or property, was analogous to master-serf and despicable, the close proximity of fans to players seems quaintly noble compared to that gated isolation of today’s media darlings.

Fans seemed to be different then too. I was reminded of this idea thanks to two articles that I’ve read in the last couple of days. Both articles came courtesy of When Saturday Comes. One bemoans the ditching of reasonable behaviour by fans, like clapping the opposition for example. The other puts forward the idea that opposing fans can actually get along just like ordinary people, you know like the 1950s not the  bullshit image of football produced by Sky et al.

It’s gratifying to know that we are not alone. Other people have spotted that your modern football fan can be a complete pain in the arse.




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