The Cost of Football…. part one

Cost of football

In spite of the fact that I have followed football all my life and spent over a decade observing and writing about those who follow it, it is rare indeed that anyone asks me about anything related to the game itself which does not involve lads kicking the crap out of each other.

Therefore, I was slightly surprised to be contacted by a journalist the other night and asked to comment on the increasing furore surrounding the massive hike in season ticket prices at some clubs.

I suspect that the interviewer was expecting me to launch into a rabid tirade about the exploitation of football fans by money grabbing club chairmen and the evil Murdoch empire because they were not a little shocked when my response was pretty much exactly the opposite to that.

Now I know what I am about to write will horrify some people because it will, to be fair, be the very last thing they would expect to hear from me. However, the truth is that I’m of the opinion that the only reason football is expensive is because as an entity, fans have allowed it to become so.

Since the formation of the Premier League and the switch from sport to entertainment, those involved with the financial side of football have been gradually edging things toward the tipping point where it all goes horribly wrong. Yet incredibly, in spite of the desperate state of the nations finances and the continued horror at the obscene wages being paid to players,  that tipping point seems further away than ever. And the reason for that is quite simple. It’s because whilst football fans have long understood that they are being screwed over, they are too stupid or lazy to do anything about it.

Argue that all you like but it is an undeniable fact.

After all, no one forces anyone to buy a season ticket nor are we dragged kicking and screaming to a cashpoint to pay for Sky Sports. Like anything in life we all have the right to say no but when it comes to football, that right is rarely ever exercised. The result being that the game has carte blanche to continue on its inevitably self-destructive course unhindered.

Football Rebellion

The real worry of course, is what will happen when it does finally tip over the edge and implodes. For sure football will never die but could it ever recapture the power it holds at the moment? Or are we likely to see more clubs follow the amazing example of clubs such as AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester as detailed so vividly in my book Rebellion (and you can buy that by visiting http://amzn.to/kC6L6d).

Time will tell I guess but whatever the outcome, the reality is that the only people to blame for whatever is looming on the distant horizon are you and me.

The Safe Standing Debate

Safe Standing
Safe Standing

The other day, whilst listening to the great Adrian Durham on TalkSport I became slightly irritated.

To be fair, TalkSport tends to do that to me these days which is one of the main reasons why I listen to it so infrequently. Indeed,Durhamis one of only three broadcasters on the station whose opinion I actually put some value in

However, I digress. What caused my irritation was a woman who came on to take part in a debate on the issue of safe standing.

Now I have no firm opinions on this matter either way although I do think that the imposition of designated seating has had a catastrophic effect on the atmosphere at games and anything which would kick that into touch is alright by me.

Anyway, the source of my irritation  was a spokesperson (sic) for the Justice for the 96 campaign who came on and gave an impassioned plea which revolved around the idea that a return to any kind of terracing would be a huge slap in the face not only to the memory of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster but to those who continue to fight for justice.

Now as many people will know, I’ve written a lot about Hillsborough over the years and to say that my opinions have not always been universally praised would be something of an understatement. But whilst I have every sympathy for the families of all of the victims, the more I listened to her the more irritated I became. Primarily because she was talking complete and utter bollocks.

Every football fan knows that whatever the causes of the Hillsborough tragedy, it changed football forever and in all kinds of ways. Yet it is a fact that football is an evolutionary entity and to claim that a return to terracing would mean that 96 people had died for nothing is, as far as I am concerned, a genuine insult to their memory.

Because I’ve stood on terraces which were so steep that climbing up them almost required crampons and others which were so packed you could barely breath let alone fight. I’ve stood and watched games through steel bars, been crushed against fences and been treated like shit by policemen simply because I’ve had the temerity to visit their town to follow my team (irony alert I know!). Yet because of Hillsborough, none of those things exist any more.

But just as importantly, the simple fact of the matter is that if people want to stand at games (as they still do in the lower leagues and in parts of Europe) then they are going to, seats or no seats and laws or no laws -and let’s not forget, the 96 who died were, in the main, usually to be found standing on The Kop at Anfield rather than sitting in the stands.

So if we are now able to provide an environment in which the modern day football fan can stand both safely and legally, then we should do it.

For if Hillsborough is going to provide the game with a genuine legacy, safer standing should surely be it.

Feminists Suck.

Feminists should man up!
A Feminist

I won’t bother to list any of those here as some have already been tackled whilst others are on my ‘to do’ list. There is however, one subject I have been putting off tackling primarily because I’ve been wary of causing offence. But now, in the spirit of my new found approach of ‘not giving a toss’ (see previous blog) I am happy to turn my opinionated howitzer in its direction. That subject is women.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love women, really, I do. As I’ve said before, I think they are more fun, more supportive, usually more intelligent and generally better all round human beings than the average bloke. I’d even go so far as to say that if I had to list my top ten favourite mates and working colleagues, at least 8 of them would be female.

Yet in spite of that, in common with the majority of my fellow males, I find women totally confusing. Well, to be brutally honest, I think they are all barking mad.

In essence, that was the central theme of my novel Billy’s Log. Written as a response to the anti-male propaganda that was Bridget Jones’ Diary, I used it to try to convey the shear frustration increasing numbers of men had come to feel whilst trying to find a long-lasting relationship in the face of the feminist man hating onslaught that took hold of the UK in the early 90’s and which manifested itself most visibly in the horrific ‘laddette’ culture.

Much of Billy’s Log was based on my own experiences as a relatively shy and very average looking male but it struck a chord with a lot of lads who had been through similar experiences (and response to the recent launch of the eBook version has shown little has changed!). Unexpectedly, it also attracted favourable comments from a number of women many of whom told me that it had finally helped them understand that being a bloke isn’t always quite as simple as they had thought. 

However, this isn’t a blog about blokes, it’s a blog about women. And the older I get, the more it becomes increasingly clearer to me that much of the confusion which forms the core of the modern day battle of the sexes stems from one simple truth. For whilst women have quite rightly sought equality both in the home and the workplace, when it comes to their relationship with the male of the species they have never actually been able to come up with a true definition of what equality actually means. Or to put it another way, they have no idea what it is they actually want.

What this means in real terms is that they are, to coin a phrase, fucked. Because without that definition the only thing they can do is to aspire toward what men have. That’s fine if you think equality means being able to get shit-faced, vomit in the street and act like a complete twat every Friday and Saturday night but not so fine if you actually want to hang on to your self-respect.

But more importantly, what this also means is that in the drive to be ‘equal’ (whatever it means) too many young women have given up the one thing that defines their sex; femininity. I mean for gods sake, this very weekend London will see women protesting under the banner of a ‘slut walk’. If it wasn’t so sad it’d be funny.

For me, this self-inflicted demise of femininity has been an own-goal of Ryan Giggs proportions. Not least because it has completely baffled entire generations of men who now take their emotional life in their hands whenever they open a door for a woman or perish the thought, pay her a compliment! (and lads, just for a laugh the next time you are out, say something complimentary to a random woman. Trust me, it will freak her out) and as a consequence prefer instead to seek solace in the company of other like-minded and equally baffled male souls. 

The tragic but inevitable result of this has been that the art of courtship and romance has all but vanished. Indeed, to me one of the great ironies of the modern age is that single women spend their lives bemoaning the lack of romantic men when they are the ones who have scared them all off! Women of course will argue that until the cows come home but from where I’m sitting it’s a cast iron fact. And let’s not forget something here…. that word, equality. It works both ways remember. So lads, when was the last time your other half did something romantic for you? I’m not talking permission for the odd fumble (which they told us for years wasn’t what they actually meant by ‘romance’!) or the odd pack of Primark pants, I’m talking flowers, chocolates, tickets to football or even an unexpected pack of Bud! I rest my case.

And that’s the bottom line here. Equality might mean equal but when it comes to relationships too many women don’t actually want real equality at all. They want the pick and mix version. The one where they get the good bits such as the romance and the emotional support but without having to give too much if anything back in return.

women, know you job. It's cooking, kids and sex.
Happy Wife

Yet what the hell is wrong with the idea of a woman who actually wants to stay at home to make it a warm and welcoming environment in which to bring up her kids? Absolutely nothing, that’s what! Let’s be honest, can you honestly say that this would not be a better country if more mums did that? Bloody right it would. Thankfully there are plenty of women who are happy to fulfil that most important of roles and so shouldn’t one of the major aims of the feminist movement be to recapture the dignity of the housewife rather than continue to tag it as some kind of subservient occupation for women who aren’t clever or ambitious enough to want to do something ‘real’ and more productive!

Domestic slave

For as most blokes know only too well, the truth is that women actually hold all the power already. Be it in relationships, work or in the home. They’ve just forgotten how to wield it.

 

No More Mr Nice Guy.

As requested ...

The other day someone levelled an accusation at me. I have, apparently, mellowed.

Initially, I dismissed this outrageous slur out of hand but as they pointed out, my blog, which was set up for the sole purpose of providing somewhere for me to get things off my chest, has recently become little more than a cross between a glorified diary and a series of plugs. And to be fair, as I pondered this later on, I realised that my accuser was right. The question of course, is why?

After all, I pride myself on my love of moaning and as plenty of people can testify, it’s not like I moan any less these days nor is it for want of suitable subject matter! Leaving aside my personal and working life (if only you knew the half of it!) I only have to pick up any national newspaper or turn on TalkSport and I guarantee that within 30 seconds I’ll be off about something.

Equally, I have always loved sitting down and tearing into something or someone but it is nevertheless a fact that my enthusiasm for letting rip has indeed waned in recent months. Which brought me back to the question of why?

However, before I could even begin the search for an answer to this most simple of questions, it landed in my inbox courtesy of The Purple Diva. An amazing woman and a fabulous writer who does things with words the like of which I can only dream about. And it came courtesy of a simple URL. A URL which led me to what I can only term a proper full bore championship winning rant.

It was sent in January 2001 by the famous author Hunter S. Thompson to Holly Sorensen, then a Production Executive at an independent film studio, The Shooting Gallery and related to the adaptation of his novel, The Rum Diary, to which Sorensen’s studio held the rights. Things had not gone well and eventually, Thompson reached boiling point.

Read on…..

Transcript

To HOLLY SORENSON / Shooting Gallery / Hollywood / Jan 22 ’01

Dear Holly,

Okay, you lazy bitch, I’m getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you’re doing with The Rum Diary.

We are not even spinning our wheels aggressively. It’s like the whole Project got turned over to Zombies who live in cardboard boxes under the Hollywood Freeway… I seem to be the only person who’s doing anything about getting this movie Made. I have rounded up Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Nick Nolte & a fine screenwriter from England , named Michael Thomas, who is a very smart boy & has so far been a pleasure to talk to & conspire with…

So there’s yr. fucking Script & all you have to do now is act like a Professional & Pay him. What the hell do you think Making a Movie is all about? Nobody needs to hear any more of that Gibberish about yr. New Mercedes & yr. Ski Trips & how Hopelessly Broke the Shooting Gallery is…. If you’re that fucking Poor you should get out of the Movie Business. It is no place for Amateurs & Dilletants who don’t want to do anything but “take lunch” & Waste serious people’s Time.

Fuck this. We have a good writer, we have the main parts casted & we have a very marketable movie that will not even be hard to make….

And all you are is a goddamn Bystander, making stupid suggestions & jabbering now & then like some half-bright Kid with No Money & No Energy & no focus except on yr. own tits…. I’m sick of hearing about Cuba & Japs & yr. Yo-yo partners who want to change the story because the violence makes them Queasy.

Shit on them. I’d much rather deal with a Live asshole than a Dead worm with No Light in his Eyes…. If you people don’t want to Do Anything with this movie, just cough up the Option & I’ll talk to someone else. The only thing You’re going to get by quitting and curling up in a Foetal position is relentless Grief and Embarrassment. And the one thing you won’t have is Fun…

Okay, That’s my Outburst for today. Let’s hope that it gets Somebody off the dime. And if you don’t Do Something QUICK you’re going to Destroy a very good idea. I’m in the mood to chop yr. fucking hands off.

R.S.V.P

(Signed)

HUNTER

Upon reading this, I immediately realised what my problem has been. Instead of embracing the concept that my blog allows me the freedom to say pretty much what I want about what I want whenever I want, I had instead begun to follow the ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ ideal.

More worryingly, that had also begun to spill over into my working life. My god, I have lost count of the number of times in recent months I have encountered either ineptitude, deceit or even condescension and instead of sending off a Thompsonesque style missile aimed directly at the relevant anus, I have sat back and done pretty much sod all. In essence, I had somehow become ‘nice’.

Fuck off

Well fuck that. No more doormat for me. Normal service is about to resume.

Be warned….

It’s true. I’m in love.

Yes, I have recently fallen head over heels in love. Such an admission is, I know, not exactly blokey and I doubt many people who read these all too infrequent ramblings of mine will ever have expected to view those words here but it is nevertheless, a fact. I am besotted.

I’d actually go so far as to say I’m happy which, as anyone who knows me will understand, is not a phrase which normally sits comfortably in my shoulders but hey, a good female can have that effect sometimes.

We met, like increasing numbers of people in these hectic times, via the internet and it took just one brief glance at her picture for me to know that we were destined to be together. Call it love at first sight if you like but within 48 hours, we were a couple and I know my life will never be the same.

The object of my affection? A 1997 Mercedes Vito van who I met via the petrol heads dating site that is the motors section of eBay. And I say who rather than which for a reason. Because my van isn’t simply a collection of metal objects thrown together on some assembly line in Germany and used and abused first by the RAC and then an electrician from Redbourn, she has a soul.

I know that because she’s already responding to the love, care and attention I have been pouring upon her. I’m not just talking stuff like the obligatory scrub up here, I’m talking proper maintenance. Oil & filter changes, sorting dodgy wiring and let me tell you, nothing helps forge a bond between a man and his vehicle like changing a dodgy driveshaft.

The result? Well at the risk of this sounding like a sexual metaphor, each time I climb inside her she seems more pleased to see me than the last time. She starts easier, runs more smoothly and little things that didn’t work when we first met have suddenly and mysteriously started to function. It’s like my own version of ‘Christine’ but without the brutal massacre of people who cross me (although I am hopeful that may begin any day).

As for me, well driving, which I’ve always loved, has suddenly taken on new levels of pleasure and I feel increasingly like Toad of Toad Hall as we bowl around the country together, windows open and without a care in the world. And let me tell you, having a mobile space the size of a garage available to you is even more useful than you can imagine! Oh yes, I am a van convert.

But equally, the fact that she only cost me £500 means that….. no, I can’t say that. Of course I care about her and in no way is she disposable!

Yet deep in my heart I know that even though we are still basking in the dawn glow of our relationship, one day it will end and she will shuffle off to the great big car park in the sky (or more likely, Africa via Tilbury Docks). And whilst I will be heartbroken for a time, I’m sure that eventually a new love will come into my life almost certainly via eBay dating and possibly even a slammed VW T4 with air con and some decent alloys.

But until then…….