I watched last Sunday’s Uefa Women’s Championship final between England and Germany – not because it was women’s football, or because it empowered young girls, or any other clichés that have been doing the rounds for a few weeks.
Grandpa, I watched it because it was… football. Honestly, I don’t care who’s playing or what gender they are. I love the game and when we’ve been so horribly robbed of a traditional World Cup summer (more on that later), it’s understandable that football fans find their fix wherever they can.
As we all know, whether we like it or not, the ‘lionesses’ won the game, but as many barstool lions were quick to point out, ‘real business’ begins this weekend with the return of the Premier League. Starting out in the league was a big deal even as a kid. you would get yours Shoot! Magazine with those cardboard little league ladders that allowed the table to be updated every week and the only consolation that the school year was fast approaching was that at least football was back.
So am I excited for the return of football this weekend? Yes. yes i think i am Am I as excited as I used to be? Absolutely not. Part of my increasing disengagement from the game is simply due to age – the older we get, the more our priorities change. But there’s a deeper sense of detachment, and it’s one that breaks my heart – top-flight football, particularly the Premier League, has become a game that’s harder and harder to love.
The quality on the pitch has undoubtedly improved – the coaches are more tactically adept, the players fitter and more technically adept. But with such an improved “product,” why do so many fans struggle to find that sense of excitement that used to be so natural? This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Premier League and the malaise can probably be traced back to then. After Hillsborough and the Taylor Report, football was viewed by the middle class and political elites as something dangerous, unruly and lawless.
Indeed, it was all of that, and it is terrifying to see the ugly face of hooliganism returning. But many of those clubs had a community identity back then that just doesn’t exist anymore.
I’m a lifelong Man United fan and no other club embodies the desperate and dingy pursuit of a dirty win quite like those American carpet diggers at Old Trafford.
But the blight goes back further than the Glazer family. The moment I began to doubt the direction of the club came when former chairman Martin Edwards claimed that Singaporeans who showed up to take some photos and buy merchandise were just as much a United fan be like someone from Stretford who had been going to gamble all their life.
In other words, fans were no longer seen as fans – they had become customers or, even more disgustingly, “stakeholders”.
In recent years, the cost of a ticket has risen insanely, which has simply thrown most fans overboard. Let’s put it this way, a friend of mine is an Arsenal fan and reckoned it would cost over €500 to take his kids to the Emirates for a day.
Eventually it stopped being people’s game and became something of a marketing behemoth as the fan profile slid away from the traditional, long-suffering season ticket holder and was replaced by a more corporate environment. After all, there was a reason Roy Keane made his infamous ‘shrimp sandwiches’ remark back in 2000, to which he then added: ‘I don’t think some of the people who come to Old Trafford spell ‘football’ can’, let alone understand.
The game was stolen by the oligarchs and money men and everyone else was left hanging. We only have to look at the scandalous decision to award the World Cup to the Tinpot desert dictatorship that is the slave nation of Qatar. That surely has to be the lowest point in Fifa’s already disgraced legacy. In fact, for the first time, I’m relieved that we didn’t qualify for a major tournament because that would have made us accomplices in the most shocking example of sportswear ever.
In fact, I feel really morally conflicted because of the tournament that starts in a few months. I’ve already turned down two free trips to Qatar because I have a certain level of self-respect. But is that enough? If I catch myself watching the games, does that make me passively an accomplice to the regime?
International football is lazy. That’s how the Premier League is.
So I pretty much turned my back on the higher ranks of the game. In fact, the next game I’ll attend will probably be Oldham v Dorking in the National League, the fifth tier of English football. Will it be glitzy and glamorous and full of fantasy football? Hardly. This is Oldham.
But I’d rather give my money to a community organization that needs it than give my money to the Glazers.
There is a way to get rid of those pesky flies, but I just can’t do it
When it comes to other creatures, I’m a live and let live guy. For example, a few years ago we had some mice in the house and I made sure we used the humane traps, which were actually quite rubbish.
It’s the same with spiders. I’m terrified of them and when I see one I tend to have a visceral reaction – I freeze, start hyperventilating and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
It’s ridiculous I know. They are amazing creatures but they are driving me insane and there is nothing I can do about it. But I’ve never killed one. Instead, I take a deep breath and use a glass and piece of paper to carry it outside.
To be fair, it’s not so much the generosity of my mind as it is my firm belief that if I kill one of them, all of their buddies will band together and attack me while I sleep. Yes, I may have read too many horror novels as a kid.
But this year I’ve found one creature I’m happy to destroy with an almost genocidal glee – those damn flies. I was relieved to see a report from Rentokil warning of a massive increase in fly infestations.
Thank God. I thought I was the only one, although I’ll admit to chasing a fly around the house in my boxers while waving a rolled-up copy Private detective wasn’t my most dignified moment.
Every time I pour a drink, the little buggers swoop down like kamikazes and lunge into the glass with suicidal enthusiasm, forcing me to angrily pour the contents down the sink. After all, swallowing these pests is a surefire way to be sick for days.
Is there a solution? Yes, but apparently it’s all about getting more spiders into your house so they can enjoy a feast.
Well, I guess I’m stuck on the flies.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/footballs-back-but-its-no-longer-a-beautiful-game-41889923.html Football is back – but it’s not a pretty game anymore