Well done, you’ve ruined my decade.

30 12 2009

So that was the noughties, went a bit quickly don’t you think? The first decade of the new millenium threw up some wonderful delights and some other crap, here are a few of my least favourite things;

1. Margaret Thatcher

Firstly she hated the poor, secondly she hated football, thirdly she was mates with Pinochet, lastly she was Margaret Thatcher. I know she was stabbed in the back out of Politics in 1990 but the effect of her tenancy in number 10 is still being felt twenty years later.

More exactly the effects of her and her economics advisor, Sir Alan Walters, are still felt today. They were so impressed with a Chilean dictator’s handling of the economy that they thought that those 1930s ideas, plus other socially Darwinist policies, were due a comeback in Britain. Nowadays we are basking in the afterglow of the re-introduction of Laissez-faire, or to give it its new name; “The Market”. 

We certainly have reaped the harvest of her intensive social farming; Labour swallowed this abhorrent crap to form a new consensus, striking people with genuine grievances are considered illegal troublemakers, people have had to re-apply for the same jobs at vastly reduced wage levels, bankers are free to take our money and keep their profits etc etc etc. Then the coup-de-grace, just when  you think that our government should do something it’s considered to be immoral for them to step in.

The market’s well-known effect on football has many examples; Over £1bn spent on securing TV rights, ticket prices reaching weekely wage levels, players earning a lifetime’s wage in 6 months, John Terry. Take the apogee of the market; Peter Kenyon. (In case you’ve forgotten Kenyon, he was  the lifelong Manchester United fan who became Chelsea’s chief executive.) Kenyon speaks with all of the calm reassurance of a marketing executive. He solemnly stated his intention to turn the world blue because Chelsea had reached critical mass in Britain or some such bollocks. The worst thing about the emergence of these  sorts of people is that you think that they can’t say or do anything worse then along comes another one of them to drop another molten bronze droplet of wisdom.

It all comes back to Thatcher, her policies led to people getting mega-rich, football clubs attracted these people because they needed the money, these people brought their corporate bullshit with them. After their introduction to the world of football phrases like “brand loyalty”, “revenue stream” and “Customer” were bandied about quite freely.

See also; Malcolm Glazer, Peter Parry and the Rhyl Globetrotters

2. Ronald Reagan

Yes he also shuffled of the political scene 20 years ago but like Thatcher his actions have left a legacy. If Reagan had not decided to reinvigorate the Cold War with a new arms race the Soviet Union would not have overspent on weapons so much that it  bankrupted itself. Consequently the USSR collapsed.

While the collapse of such a depressing, exploitative and repressive regime is cause for joy what came after it was not good either. When Stalinism collapsed Eastern Europe, especially Russia, was an area unprepared for “Freedom and Democracy”. Yet this area was thrown into the deep end of the Market Economy with the able assistance of  the advanced western democracies.

Those that were attuned to this new world went about their business with aplomb. For example they acquired majority shareholdings in all of the newly privatised ex-state industries. The fact that this was done rather too easily, and the fact that after few years these people seemed to control vast parts of Russian society, have been overlooked by people in the west. Of course none of these upright individuals have stains upon their character because of their activities in the last decade.

 Unfortunately not everybody was attuned to such ideas. These people still clung to outdated ideas like fraternal relations and solidarity. In the last decade and a half they have been left behind in this democracy  with authoritarian qualities.

Luckily for us these divine individuals, known by their pop group name; “THE OLIGARCHS!!”, have been able to smile like simpletons in Premier League executive boxes, usually in the owners’ seat.   By comparison, the ordinary multi-millionaires (Glazer, Gillett, Hicks et al) that see British football clubs as appendages look like Nobel Peace Prize laureates, and that’s even if they may bankrupt “their” new toy.

The main negative effect that these people have had has been to unleash a  maelstrom. The free spending of Abramovich  instituted a new arms race in the Premier League as clubs try to keep up. This has further taken football out of the orbit of the traditional fan as these owners are caring sharing people, we have to pay for the benefit of their ego massage as well as them. And you all know the effect that wage inflation has had on football.

It’s enough to make you wonder what’s worse; (i) The methods that these rich people used obtain the vast wealth needed to buy a football club? or (ii) Some fans view these people as saviours. Of course the market is blind to moral considerations.

See also; Thaksin Sinawatra, Colonel Qaddafi, David Dein

3. Scallies

Where do you start? Let’s try Monday 14/12/09. We were losing  but  playing well. The other team was worried. One of our team did the unreasonable act of taking a knucklehead on. The knucklehead responded by throwing him off the pitch, our team member landed awkwardly, our team member had broken his wrist. About 10 minutes later another of our unreasonable players tries to tackle the knucklehead, his reward was a stamp on the chest. Whilst we were leaving the sports hall we saw the knucklehead smiling sweetly at the staff. It was as if he was saying; “Look at me, I’ve just cleaned the changing rooms” It’s difficult to summon up the correct  contemptuous expressions when you’re faced with this situation, especially when it may result in a bank holiday glassing.

Then you’re trying to watch the “footy”, in the pub just  like a man should, and you can’t hear Andy Gray for the cries of “SNAP HIM!!!” and “…..So I stamped on his head, well he had spilt his blood on my new shoes!!”

See also; Martyn Naylor, Lee Bowyer, Mark Dennis, Dennis Wise.

4. The Bandwagonner

When I was in University I found myself plagued by these bellends. I used to live with one in fact, let’s call him P. Despite never having lived in Manchester (He had lived in Preston, Cardiff and Bristol) P was a red hot United fan. He was such a red hot fan that he thought it unseemly to wear a replica shirt outside of the fans’ natural habitat, the pub. When not observing an aura of disdain over replica shirt wearers he would mutter disdainfully about the locals just because they supported Wolves.

When quizzed about his apparently newly chosen supporting identity he merely pointed to a mutual friend, “Look at Andy!!” he cried. (Andy was best described as a fan with an itinerant fancy; he was from Bournemouth and supported them but he also had Chelsea shorts (owning merchandise is a sign of allegiance to a club in my book) and claimed to be a Man City fan. By the next year Andy had developed a passion for Coventry City.) I didn’t see the connection and it didn’t explain anything;  Andy knew stuff about football for example, unlike P. This answer didn’t tell me why P only seemed to become a United fan when there was an important game, and then it was only half-arsed,  either. I consoled myself with the idea that he wasn’t really hurting anyone.

After leaving Uni I have had the misfortune to bump into loads of examples of this behaviour, except they didn’t have P’s charm. First of all there’s the flag waving England fans. Then you’ve got the people that  appear at the pub, because that’s where true fans go. From a distance they look like fans, sound like fans, they look perfect in every way. Get a little closer and you find that they’re cleverly manufactured ersatz fans from Japan; they know fuck all. They have  just been to the same clothes shops. Fashion, turn to the right………

When you add in the Scallies to this social situation you may forget that normal people exist. On top of the history of violence you’ll also hear the bandwagonners re-gurgitating what the tabloids have told them to think about football, this  will include intelligent people who should know better as well.

See also; Fast Show Football fan, morons following England, students watching football, xenophobic students watching football, moronic students watching England, people who take football too seriously

5. Players

The centre of our little obsession. You try and try to do the opposite but you can’t quite manage it. They lay down obstacle after obstacle for your affections. 

From;  “Michael Owen will do the best to show that Michael Owen still has it” or “Robbie Savage knows that Robbie Savage will get you results” or “Alan Shearer has decided that Alan Shearer will have 3 Weetabix for Breakfast”; to the contemptuous look at the linesman; to the badge-kissing, to the hounding of the officials; to the practiced goal celebrations, to the buying of a gated community when a house should do; to the interviews “Like I said…..”; to stopping their cars because they are so angered by the offer of only £50,000 a week; to the “This time we’ll win the World Cup…”; to the “autobiographies” they obviously don’t want you to like them.

See also; Anything in the media

6. The Media

There was a time when footballers were “nice” and if they weren’t we didn’t know, it was the 1950s-1970s and we didn’t know any better. There was a time when footballers were “nice” and if they weren’t we didn’t know, we were kids and we didn’t know any better.  There is a time when we think that footballers are arseholes and we like to think we know better than them. That time is now. So what’s changed?

Three words; Sky Sports News. Those three short words  symbolise the profound effect of the  media on football, they have helped to elevate the minutiae of football into some kind of earth-shattering importance. Whisper it quietly but football used to be an enjoyable experience, people used to do it because it too their mind off things, gave them a bit of peace from their families and of course it could be exciting.

To look at the customers in a pub during the transmission of a match you’d thing that it was a masochist’s convention, if things don’t go to plan you see a mass of contorted expressions. What the hell are they watching football for?

They may be the unwilling victims of a skilled media that has manipulated the presentation of sport. A media that is trying to transform every match into a must win game. They will insinuate that if your team doesn’t win, everything is ruined and  you won’t be able to show your face in polite society again, your team, and by extension you, are nothing. Then when you team wins the next game you are reborn, your life is back on, your team, and by extension you, are heroes again. This may be an exaggeration based on my experiences in Llandudno but then general point cannot be denied. Football has been elevated into something so important that it’s putting a lot of people off, including me unsurprisingly.

See also; The media on any day, or any hour, or any minute for that matter.

So apart from the clubs, the owners, the players, the fans and the media there is nothing wrong with football. A big big THANK YOU to all of you for ruining my decade.

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