Category Archives: football

Sorry, but The London Stadium is not fit for purpose.

west ham,watford,hooligan,hooliganismMuch has already been made about the trouble which took place inside the London Stadium at the West Ham versus Watford game yesterday. However, to those of us who attended games the game, as I did as one of the visiting support, it was hardly a surprise. For it is fairly clear that whilst this is an amazing venue, it simply does not yet work as a football stadium.

Leaving aside the fact that the lower tier is so shallow that it almost demands you stand to see anything (totally illegally of course) the segregation is almost laughable with the two sets of fans being barely a decent right-hander apart. 

However, there is a more fundamental problem and it one which will have to be addressed sooner rather than later. It is the thorny issue of stewarding. Not just inside the stadium, but outside.

At the risk of causing offence to anyone -and if I do, I apologise, but someone is going to have to say this- putting a dayglo vest on someone with only rudimentary English language skills does not make for an effective steward. More worryingly, if they have no experience of English football let alone dealing with aggressive fans, it makes them a liability because it can cause more problems than it solves. Just as importantly, it can place them in direct danger. More so when there are no police around to back them up.

As visiting fans, we saw the consequences of this inside the stadium yesterday but the truth is, they were exacerbated by some of the things which went on outside before the game. Indeed, the close proximity of the Westfield shopping centre, coupled with the lack of places to drink beforehand, is a recipe for disaster. More so when you have security staff walking around sticking camera’s in peoples faces as they did to us yesterday. Understandable if we were being a problem but not when you’re sitting outside a bar quietly drinking a coke.

That might be a small thing to some but the overt way it was done coupled with the arrogant attitude of those doing the filming pissed off an awful lot of people and this wasn’t the only incident of its type we heard about. The worry being that if the London Stadium witnesses these types of problems when a club such as Watford are visiting, what is it going to be like when clubs such as Chelsea or Spurs are the visitors? The consequences were it to kick off inside the mall don’t even bare thinking about.

I am not for one second trying to defend those who cause trouble because ultimately, they are to blame for what they get up to. Nor am I pointing a finger at West Ham fans, the majority of whom are amongst the best and most passionate in the country. However, the responsibility for the safety of all supporters in and around a home stadium is entirely a matter for the owners and it is one which, in the case of The London Stadium, is being failed. Badly.

Given what is at stake, that is totally unacceptable and one must hope that the results of the investigation announced by the FA today will leave the club management in absolutely no doubt as to what is required of them.

@dougiebrimson

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Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information can be found at dougiebrimson.com

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Why we love football.

football,comedy,humour, soccer,premier league,championship,As someone who is lucky enough to converse with people from pretty much every point of the spectrum on which human life sits, I frequently find myself responding to questions of some kind or another.

Inevitably, the bulk of these will revolve around subjects linked to writing and be of the ‘how can I?’ variety which is fine as my work or writing will be the thing which brought us together and if someone takes the time to contact me, it’s only right that I afford them the courtesy of a reply.

Occasionally however, I’ll get a curveball question and the range of issues these can cover is, to say the least, broad. Only recently for example, I found myself explaining to someone from the other side of the world why we British drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

To be honest, I like this kind of random stuff. Not only does it tax the brain (or test my proficiency on google) but I find it quite rewarding to think that people actually feel comfortable enough to ask me these things. Especially when in some cases, I’ll have been the first Englishman they’ll have ever emailed.

My favourite question however, is one which lands in my inbox on a regular basis. It is quite simply, why football?

Usually of course, this will be used in the context of violence or hatred of some kind but increasingly, it’s being asked by people who don’t follow the game and want to know why those of us who do are so fanatical about it.

My response to this is that there is no such thing as a standard answer because there is no such thing as a standard football fan. To the uninitiated we might well come across as sheep (or even mugs) but when you look a little deeper, you’ll quickly discover that there are all kinds of reasons to explain why we are all unique in our love of the great game and our respective teams. There are even different degrees of obsession but if you want to know more about that, then you best read this.

Amongst those of us who actually get off our backsides to attend games in the flesh however, there is one common thread and that is that being a fan of the game is not just about the 90 minutes of actual football. And I mean football, not even great football. For it’s fair to say that some of the best days I’ve had as a fan have been on days when Watford have lost and I’d bet that most fans reading this will think the same.

For the simple reality is that watching football is about one thing, hope. Hope that things will get better, or at least not get worse. Hope that you will win promotion, not get relegated, beat your local rivals or even just carry on for one more season. And with that hope comes every kind of emotional experience possible all wrapped up in one simple word, passion.

To be a part of that passion and share those experiences with others is why we do it and why we love it because it’s where we feel that we belong.

Don’t ask me why we do it, just try and explain to me why you don’t.

@dougiebrimson

football,soccer,protest,premier league,fans,supportersSpeaking of football and fans, my old book Rebellion is now available as an ebook.

First published in 2006, it tells the background to some of the more infamous fan protests including those at Charlton, Wimbledon, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich and Bournemouth amongst many others.

Details of my other books, including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow, as well as links to buy can be found by clicking here!

 

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Chants about Hillsborough? What’s the big deal?

supporters, liverpool,manchester United,hillsborough,fans,footballMuch is being made today of the fact that during a game at Anfield last night, Manchester United fans were singing a song about the Hillsborough disaster. Or to be specific, they were singing ‘The Sun were right, you’re murderers’, amongst other things.

This is obviously unpalatable and on the face of it, unacceptable. Indeed, were you to walk along the average Liverpool street belting it out, you could reasonably expect either a kicking, a nicking or both. And quite right too.

However, we are not talking about a street, we are talking about a football stadium. And inside a football stadium, especially one holding two sets of supporters with a long standing and very bitter rivalry, the gloves are pretty much off. Which in my opinion, is exactly as it should be because to me, grounds are at the very best when they akin to fully functioning bear pits.

That might not sit comfortably with the over sensitive watchers of Sky Sports or the journalists sitting in their free seats moralising about fan behaviour, but speaking as someone who has been to hundreds of games over the years, it’s safe to say that the majority of the most memorable were played out in atmosphere’s which would have had Nero reaching for a cold flannel. I’m not just talking about the kind of rivalry that has always been a part and parcel of the game, I’m talking about outright hatred. That, in essence, is what my book Derby Days was about.

Of course, those days (or at least the worst of them) are long gone and in this politically correct football world where happy clappers and half and half scarves have become the norm at games rather than the exception, there is obviously a line to be drawn. The problem is, thus far, aside from the issue of racism, no one has ever been able to decide where it sits. Why for example, is Hillsborough a chant too far when songs about Munich -which ironically were allegedly being sung by Liverpool fans last night- aren’t? 

And what about Heysel (more irony), Bradford, Istanbul, Yids, Jimmy Saville, Adam Johnson, Mathew Harding or any one of a hundred subjects which are routinely sung about inside grounds? Would they be illegal in this new sanitised and banter free environment? Even if you were able to work out what’s permissible, how would you let the fans know? Song sheets perhaps, or big screen subtitles? Would swearing be included? Or gesturing?

More importantly, how would you police it? And what would be the punishment for transgressions? Bans? Fine’s?

The sheer number and nature of the questions is proof enough that the very idea of any kind of ‘banter boundary’ is laughable and any attempt to enforce one would be doomed to failure and ridicule from day one.

Singing, chanting, shouting, screaming, moaning and even abusing are fundamental elements of the match day experience and the simple reality is that there is only one thing that will ever define what is and isn’t acceptable inside football grounds and that is peer pressure. Therefore if the clubs are genuinely serious about dealing with foul and abusive chanting then the only way to do it is to empower their own supporters and encourage them to get their own houses in order.

Because until they do that, none of them, not even Liverpool FC, have the right to bleat about anyone else’s.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers, The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

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Enough is enough. It’s time for football fans to get organised.

liverpool, ticket, premier league, twenty's plentyIf you’ve ever read any of my books, you’ll know that I have very strong views on the issue of fan involvement in football and in particular the failure of the various fan groups to secure any significant presence at club level.  And so, with Liverpool FC having bowed to pressure from its supporters and scrapped the idea of a £77 ticket, I thought it might be a good idea to publish an extract from my book, Barmy Army which outlines an idea which continues to excite people.

The fact it was first published 16 years ago yet is as relevant now as it was back then is a shameful reflection not just on the sport we follow, but on ourselves. For the professional game without us is nothing. We know that, they know that.

So why do we continue to let them take the piss? Read on.

Extract from Barmy Army (2000)

The difficulty here is how you involve the rank-and- file fans in the first place. For in the current climate, most football supporters feel a greater sense of alienation than ever before. Very few of us have any kind of coherent representation at our clubs and none of us have a voice at either the FA or within government, despite the fact that the game is totally reliant on us for its very survival.

We cannot rely on either the clubs or the FA to change their position with regard to customer relations of their own accord, and therefore pressure must be put on them to do so. We have two very powerful weapons at our disposal, but one of them we will never use and the other, for the moment at least, we cannot.

The first thing we could do is to hit the clubs where it hurts and boycott games. We could do that, but we never will. Like all addicts, we need our fix and to miss out on that, even on a point of principle, doesn’t bear thinking about. The alternative to boycotting the games altogether is to boycott the catering or even to get ourselves organised and follow the lead of the various Ultra groups in Italy, which we discussed earlier. That would send a clear message to the clubs that we were unhappy. If it went on for long enough, they might even be forced into action to resolve it – ‘might’ being the operative word. For football is a stubborn beast and even if a club’s supporters were able to organise themselves, there is no guarantee that the directors would listen. Indeed, judging by some of the examples we have seen in recent years, at the first sign of supporter solidarity the average board simply digs in and does nothing.

So if we are to force action, then it must be done in a way which the clubs are unable to ignore. And in this country, every football fan over the age of 18 has something which those in authority have to take notice of. It’s called a vote.

A few years ago, I suggested the formation of a single issue political lobby group called the Football Party. Initially, the suggestion was that people would stand for their local council to give fans a say in issues that directly affected their local club. It was an approach that proved astonishingly successful in 1990 when supporters of Charlton Athletic FC formed The Valley Party in an ultimately successful campaign to get the club back to their spiritual home.

Such was the response, it quickly became apparent that many supporters believed that this local angle was an idea worth developing. But many people wrote to me and said we had to think big and aim higher. The more I thought about that, the more plausible the whole thing sounded. What finally convinced me that the concept of a national Football Party was a sound one was when I realised that the average local election generates a turnout of less that 40 per cent and that while over 12 million people voted for the Tories in the 1992 general election, approximately 25 million watched the England v Germany semi-final in Italia ’90. What this proved to me once and for all was that if you went canvassing around every pub, club, house and factory, and told the electorate that you were standing to give them a say within the football world, there’d undoubtedly be good support, and as soon as the established parties saw there were votes in it, their policies and actions would change so as to give football a kick up the arse.

As a result, I sat down and wrote out a manifesto, one aimed not just at local councils but also at general and European elections. It included four main points. First, the formation of an independent, credible and properly funded body to represent the views and opinions of football supporters from every level of the game; second, the appointment of supporters’ representatives to the committees of both the Football Association and the Football Trust; third, the appointment of an elected supporters’ representative to the board of every professional football club; and finally, the appointment of an ombudsman or regulator to oversee the activities of the Football Association, the Football Trust, the Premier League and its members, the Football League and its members and supporters’ groups.

In August 1998, when it was first released to the press and various supporters’ groups, the response was amazing. Yet sadly, the people I wanted to react, the football authorities and the government, paid it little heed. Undaunted, I carried on. More support poured in and the manifesto began to appear all over the Internet. I had enquiries about it from all over Europe and as far afield as Australia. It had certainly captured the imagination of supporters. However, the campaign eventually began to take its toll on me, both in terms of time and finances and I was forced to put it onto the back burner. But the idea is still very much alive and the very fact that so many people continue to respond to it proves that it is sound. It sure would rock the boat were it ever to come off.

The mere idea that football fans throughout the country could even consider voting for a fat git like me proves how desperate they are to be involved in the game they love. Every supporter has a role to play in the future of the game, and that doesn’t just apply to the hooligan issue but to every single aspect of football. Every major political party recognises that fact – which is, after all, why Tony Blair does so many stupid photo-calls – but still they do nothing about it. That is not good enough. If football will not provide us with a properly funded platform through which we can be heard and demand answers, then the government must make sure they do. And if they don’t, that’s when we should use our vote, because that is the one thing all politicians are truly scared of. All we need to do is to get organised; but how we actually do that is anyone’s guess.

Yet it has to happen. For only by wielding the immense power we as football fans have at our disposal will we ever see an end to the problems facing football, from the hooliganism issue and the asset-stripping to the financial incompetence, greed and sheer hypocrisy of those who supposedly run our game on our behalf. For too long now they have got away with shafting us. They have placed us in danger, sold our very game from under our feet and in far too many cases to note here, have walked away with bank accounts bursting at the seams with money that came out of our pockets. It’s not right and the time has come to do something about it.

If you want to read more on this, Barmy Army is available to download via this link. There is also more on the subject of football protest movement in my book, Rebellion which is available here.

@dougiebrimson

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
The Crew

Two additional plugs, I’m currently giving away ebooks versions two of my best-selling books The Crew and Everywhere We Go. Further details can be found by clicking on the links or here Free Books where you will also find details of all my other publications.

Aside from all that, work continues apace on developing the film version of Wings of a Sparrow and I’m also pushing forward with another film which for now, must remain a secret for reasons which will hopefully become clear in the fullness of time!

Finally, my recent rant/blog It’s time for charity to genuinely begin at home attracted a huge response so I may well do part two over the next couple of days!

green street, top dog, football, soccer, politics, screenwriting, film, author, writing, hooliganism, England, world cup, hillsborough, twitter, social media, facebook, 

Harry the Hornet: football’s perfect response to Paris.

Harry1In the wake of the horrific events in Paris, English football was quick to show it’s solidarity with the French capital. First at Wembley and then on Saturday, when every game in the English Premier League was preceded by the singing of La Marseillaise.

Now as a fan of a Premier League club (ahem) I was happy to stand in silence whilst the French national anthem was played (well I’m hardly likely to sing it) and I also understood why the Manchester United fans saw fit to interrupt it with a chant about Eric Cantona. He is after all, the greatest living Frenchman and closely allied with the club. However, little was I to know that even as the game began, a social media storm was brewing. A yellow and black hornet shaped storm.

The reason for this angst can be found toward the right of the photograph at the beginning of this blog. For people watching at home began to accuse Watford of being disrespectful by allowing the club mascot to line up with the players. But they are wrong. In fact, the exact opposite is true for one very important reason.

I know most football fans say this about their clubs, but Watford Football Club really are unique. I may have spent decades bemoaning the ‘Family Club’ tag and spend a good portion of most Saturdays ridiculing the ‘clap your hands, stamp your feet’ brigade but the fact remains that they are, and always will be, a genuine family club. Our club mascot, Harry the Hornet, is an integral part of that family and to me, to most, when he stands with the players, as he does so before every home game, he does so to represent us, the fans.

Therefore, for him to stand with the team and join them to show solidarity with the people of Paris was not simply right, it was absolutely right.

And if you still have an issue with that, you don’t understand my football club at all. But that’s your  problem, not ours.

Come on you ‘Orns.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

The joy of football, and Watford.

footballAnyone who knows me will be aware that I like a moan. And I don’t mean ‘as much as the next bloke’ I mean over and above the next bloke. Some would even argue, with some justification, that I have forged a career (of sorts) doing it.

The reason I moan is simple. It’s not because I think it will change anything or that I think anyone will actually take notice or even care, it’s because it makes me feel better. And so, from the state of the nation to the ongoing pain in my left-leg, if it causes me enough angst to get my brain rattled, I’ll give vent to my thoughts. Be it in public, on Twitter and even occasionally, here. Which, to be fair, is why I set this blog up in the first place.

Oddly, the one thing I don’t often moan about is football. OK… I’ll rephrase that. The one thing I don’t often moan about away from football, is football. Instead, outside of match days where moaning is obviously bog standard practice, I tend to adopt the true meaning of the word ‘support’ and actually provide a bit of backing for the team I’ve followed pretty much forever.

Sadly, this is not a practice adopted by many of my fellow Hornets who are currently in meltdown over our supposed poor start to the current season.

Now for those who do not know, Watford were promoted to the Premier League last season and subsequently not only appointed a new manager, but imported almost an entirely new team. After four games, we’ve drawn three (all of which we could and perhaps should have won) and lost the fourth away to the team who will almost certainly walk the league given their squad of world class players. As a result, we currently sit 17th out of 20 teams in arguably the most competitive division in world football. 

To me, this is no disgrace and is actually slightly better than I expected given the wholesale changes. We’re certainly looking more solid at the back than we have for years and actually have a midfield worthy of the description and that can only improve as they play more games together. And it will improve.

Yet if you listen to the rantings of some of our ‘fans’ you’d think we were in free fall because we’re not creating many (if any) chances. Now whilst it’s true that goals win games, what these people are tending to ignore is that the only two areas of the team which remain unchanged following promotion are our goalkeeper and the two guys at the front. And in every game thus far, both of our strikers have been almost man-marked out of games. Not just by defenders, but by Premiership (and by definition, better) defenders than they had to face last year. No wonder chances are few and far between.

But you don’t turn from a 20 goal a season striker into a donkey overnight and everyone at the club knows that with time, and possibly a bit of tweaking, it will all come good. 

So to all those currently battering Twitter and Facebook with your whining, give it a bloody rest and do what you’re supposed to do; support. But above all, have faith.

In Pozzo we trust remember. And they certainly haven’t let us down yet.

My numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Just click on the relevant link for more information. Some of you newcomers might also want to take a look at The Geezers Guide to Football. ?

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The joy of football – Superstition.

football,soccer,superstition,sweet,sherbet,author,writingAs you may or may not know, the football season proper starts tomorrow.

Yes, I am well aware that it actually started last week as I was one of those who endured a nightmare journey up the M6 to Everton, but the truth is that for me, a football season isn’t a real thing until I’ve walked into Vicarage Road for our first home game. And that dear readers, is tomorrow.

This season of course, is going to be something special. Watford as a club have undergone a huge transformation over the last couple of years and never more so than in the last few weeks. New players have arrived at the club almost daily and even our ground has undergone a transformation the like of which I don’t think any Watford fan could have ever envisaged in their wildest lager induced dreams. But more importantly, we are now officially a Premiership team and I don’t really need to expand on what that means both for the club as an entity and for us, the fans.

All of this of course, is attributable to one thing. That thing is me.

You see years ago, long before the Pozzo family came swanning in with their money and business acumen, I discovered that when it came to Watford, Sherbet Fountains have magical, possibly even spiritual properties. Why else do you think the packaging is yellow, black and red?

Having discovered this, I made it my business to consume one (sometimes even two) once I was inside the ground on match days and whilst we’ve had our up’s and down’s over the years, most notably following the switch from paper wrappers to plastic carton, the fact remains that thanks to my sherbet intake, the club has now reached the heights it has.

There’s no need to thank me. But feel free to join me.

wings of a sparrow, the crew, top dog, football, screenwriting, leo gregory, hooligan, martin kemp, jonathan sothcott

My numerous books, plus the odd DVD, are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Just click on the relevant link for more information.

Why Russia absolutely MUST host the 2018 World Cup.

I wrote the following blog a year ago but in light of events in France and the growing clamour to strip Russia of 2018, I thought it worth posting again. Because in my opinion, nothing russia, 2018, world cup, england, football, soccer, racism, fifia, uefa, blatter, homophobia, has changed.

Not surprisingly, in the wake of the furore surrounding FIFA, calls have been made to strip both Russia and Qatar of their respective world cups.

Whilst I totally agree with the logic in respect of Qatar, the idea of relocating 2018 even to England, fills me with horror. Yes, Blatter may be as bent as a nine bob note and yes, allegations that the bid was corrupt may well have a basis in fact, but to me the decision to stage the tournament in the motherland was always absolutely the correct one for one very simple reason.

One of the great strengths of the global game has always been the fight against discrimination in all its forms and by taking the World Cup to Russia, it underlines that message by providing an opportunity to not only bring about, but actually witness real change. That’s why we have to continue along that path because to do otherwise would be a massive mistake.

Now I know that will cause some angst in certain circles however, unlike the majority who will pontificate about this, I have actually been to Russia. Three times in fact.

Just as importantly, I’ve spent considerable amounts of time in the company of Russian football fans including those who are, shall we say, questionable. As a consequence, I have more than a passing knowledge of what makes these guys tick and that knowledge is based not on the ill-informed drivel that the British tabloids are prone to pumping out, but on actual experience. And one of the things I learned quite quickly is that Russian football culture is very different from what we are used to here.

That’s not to excuse the problems which infect the game there, many of which can legitimately be described as both racism and homophobia. But it is fair to say that racism in Russia is a very different animal from the beast we have here in the west and to treat the two in the same manner is a grave error.

More importantly, if the game in the motherland is ever to see an end to discrimination, the very last method of bringing it about would be via the use of any kind of blanket punishment because in my experience, nothing will cement public attitude faster than the western nations adopting a ‘holier-than-thou’ stance. Russia is many things, but fiercely patriotic stands head and shoulders above everything else.

Therefore, it is imperative that the tournament go ahead as planned because it provides the perfect platform for organisations such as FARE and Kick Racism to work with the Russian authorities and start actively promoting an anti-racism and anti-homophobia agenda.

Just as importantly, it will provide scope for that agenda to be taken to those who stand firmly at the very heart of the problem because the support of Russian footballs extremist support will be absolutely vital. That might sound like wishful thinking but in my experience, it is perfectly achievable as long as it is done in the correct manner. However, if that is to happen, work must begin sooner rather than later because it’s going to take time to build both mutual respect and trust.

Thankfully, we currently have the opportunity to do all of this which is why to give it up would be a tragedy. Not just for Russian football or for the entire Russian nation, but for everyone else. Lest we forget, football drove the anti-racism message into English society from the dark days of the 1970’s and there is nothing to suggest that exactly the same thing won’t happen in Russia on the back of 2018.

Is it really worth the risk of losing that chance?

.

I’m delighted to tell you that my non-fiction book Rebellion is finally available as an ebook.

football, soccer, protest, hooligans, european elections, UKIP, top dog, green street, author, screenwriting, writingFirst published in 2006, it explores the background to some of the more infamous fan protests told by those who were right at the heart of things.

Amongst the clubs featured are Charlton, Wimbledon, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich and Bournemouth amongst many others.

I can also announce that my last novel, Wings of a Sparrow, may well be heading for TV as a four part comedy drama. Watch this space!

 

All of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

russia, 2018, world cup, england, football, soccer, racism, fifia, uefa, blatter, homophobia, brimson, hooligans, hooliganism, violence

The Death of Football.

football, soccer, watford, hooligans, gangs, top dog, danny dyer, we still kill the old way, green street, screenwriting, author, screenplay, script, independent filmI am a football fan. This, dear reader, is a well documented fact.

Now to some reading that, it will be natural to assume that if I’m not watching Sky Sports I’ll be trawling the back pages absorbing every fact about every game in every league the world over. Well I have to tell you that this is far from the case. In fact it’s the polar opposite of what I actually do for the truth is, I find the vast majority of football boring as f**k.

You see I am one of those supporters who believe that if their team isn’t playing, it’s not important. For me,  the great game really does begin and end at Watford FC and if they’re not playing, I have more important things to do than be bothered.

This, in essence, is why I rarely get involved in debates about football related issues. Yes, if something’s causing a stir in the media I might sling out the odd comment on twitter or Facebook and occasionally I’ll even blog about something but in the main, I don’t really care. As I say, if it doesn’t impact on life at Vicarage Road, it’s someone else’s problem. And to be honest, there’s usually enough football related drama going on at Watford to negate the need to get involved in crap going on elsewhere.

Once in a while however, something happens at my club which does demand comment. Today is one of those instances.

To give you a bit of background, over the last couple of decades Vicarage Road had developed a reputation as a ground where the concept of atmosphere was alien. There were no terrace anthems of the ‘Keep Right On’ or ‘Blue Moon’ variety, singing and banter amongst the home support was, to put it kindly, subdued. Even general crowd noise usually bordered on the safe side of medium. Certainly not enough to upset the patients in the hospital less than 200 yards away.  

Recently however, a group called the 1881 have sprung up in the home end and things have begun to change. I won’t go into it all in too much detail here but suffice to say, thanks entirely to their efforts, the atmosphere has improved markedly and Vicarage Road is becoming a great place to be on match days.

Pretty much everyone recognises this with even the players frequently pouring compliments upon the fans and in particular the 1881 and with things going well on the pitch as well, you’d think everyone would be happy. You’d think that, but it is apparently not the case. For this morning a letter appeared in the Watford Observer from a gentleman called Ken Connelly.

From what anyone can gather, Ken sits in the same section as the 1881 and he is not pleased. He is not pleased at all. This is that letter.

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Geezers-Guide-Football-Mainstream/dp/1840181141 

Now I’m not going to attack Ken personally for what he’s written because he is of course, entitled to his own opinion and strictly speaking, he is absolutely correct. It is indeed illegal to stand at football grounds in this country.

However, aside from lining himself up for what I’m guessing will be a legendary piss taking at the game tomorrow, what he has done is underline one of my biggest gripes about modern football and that is the issue of designated seating.

I understand the case for it, I really do. But that case is based on a history which is no longer relevant in the vast majority of grounds in this country. As a consequence, it has now become the key factor on the demise of the traditional atmosphere at games as well as the main cause of the majority of arguments I’ve seen at Vicarage Road this season.

If there’s anything more annoying than the sight of people wandering up and down at 3.05 with their tickets in their hand looking for ‘their’ seat I can’t imagine what it is. And what’s most annoying about it is that it’s entirely avoidable.

In fact if we are ever to see a return to the safe standing that so many are demanding, designated seating would almost certainly have to be scrapped anyway so why not do it now? Not only would it allow us to sit where we like but it would allow people like Ken to get up and legally move if something or someone was bothering them.

Football grounds are not theatres and crowds are not audiences. For too long now clubs have failed to grasp that simple concept and that has to change.

Because if people like Ken Connelly are allowed to hold sway over the wishes of the majority, football as we know and love it will finally be killed off.

manchester united, david moyes, liverpool, british film, ryan giggs, old traffordIf you don’t know, Top Dog has been nominated in the ‘Best Action’ category at the National Film Awards which will be held at the end of February.

This is a real boost for the film but we need votes! So if you watched the film and enjoyed it, please click on this link and vote!

In other news, I’m currently in the middle of negotiations for options on two new screenplays and all being well, I’ll have these tied up next week so will be able to pass on details fairly soon (although I will tell you that one of them is the adaptation of my football comedy, Wings of a Sparrow).

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford

green street, top dog, we still kill the old way, danny dyer, elijah wood, leo gregory, script, screenwriter, author, independent film, self publishing, ebooks, dvd, hooligan, gang violence

 

The Great Game. Or not.

football, writing, sex, oral, sport, soccer, film, screenwriting, analI am one of that lucky breed of individuals who has ended up doing a job, if you can call it that, which just happens to revolve around one of their  passions. As a result of this good fortune, what I do occasionally rules my life 24/7 to the point that if I’m not working by necessity, I’m doing by choice.

Thankfully, my son has also become infected with this passion and no doubt, as the years pass by, the two of us will continue to enjoy our shared obsession not just because we’re father and son, but because…well, because we’re blokes. And as we grow older, we’ll talk about the good old days and how things were much better back … er, now, and moan about how it all went wrong. Which of course, it surely will. Because the thing of which I speak is of course, the glorious, but all too often disappointing game that is football. And if you follow football, as anyone who watched the pathetic efforts of our nations supposedly finest players in Brazil will be acutely aware, the chances are that you’re going to spend a good portion of your supporting life feeling depressed.

To be honest, I guess that’s where the main attraction lies for me. I am after all, a natural pessimist and so it stands to reason that football is my ideal sport. After all, if you go to a game expecting to be disappointed, anything else is a serious bonus!

But the other benefit the great game provides is that the pre-match pub has replaced the traditional campfire as the place where stories and legends are both told and heard. And who can deny the pure unadulterated joy which comes from hearing about someone else’s misfortune or the simple thrill of trying to work out if someone is lying through their teeth or not.

The problem of course, is that every so often, you are expected to contribute. And tragically, I have one of those footballing stories that tread the fine line between bizarre and bullshit. A story that I still have difficulty believing even though I was the central figure. In short, I once saved a penalty taken by my own team in a game that we lost. Confused? Oh, it gets worse than that. Much worse.

You see during my time in the RAF, I was the manager of our Squadron football team. A team who I have to admit, were rubbish. The sad thing was, I was also a member of the defence and as we were leaking goals at a frightening rate, I eventually got to the point where I dropped myself.

Come one particular match, against the side who were top of the table, we all turned up as normal but due to circumstances beyond their control, the opposing side turned up with only ten players. However, as they were superior to us in every aspect of their play, they were quite happy to play us with ten men, which, if nothing else, was pretty demeaning for our lot.

Of course, the inevitable happened and just before half time, in the only attack we had managed to mount during the previous forty minutes, their keeper got seriously hurt and was carried off. As a result, they were now down to nine men and it looked like the game would have to be abandoned. However, sensing at least a point for my lads, I offered to go in goal for them with the promise that I would, of course, be totally impartial!

Following various warnings from their captain and bearing in mind that we had only threatened their goal once in the first half, they reluctantly accepted my offer and I thus took my place in goal against my own team. But such was the lack of skill exhibited from my own players (this gets confusing) I had nothing to do for the rest of the half and at the break, gave my own team a rousing pep-talk designed to get them playing well enough to score a goal against me.

However, as the second-half progressed, despite their numerical superiority my own team remained pegged back in their (our) own half but the team I was keeping goal for still could not score. As the final minutes ticked away and that elusive point became ever closer to reality, a hopeful punt from our defence  (and that’s our as in my own team) released our centre forward who came charging toward me followed by their defence (the team I was playing for) who clearly who had little faith in my saving their skin. As our striker entered the box with me firmly rooted to the line, they hacked him to the ground and the ref awarded a penalty.

So, to clarify: I was now standing on the goal line, facing a penalty about to be taken by a player from my own side who, were they to score, could well end up securing their (our) first win of the season, and against the top of the table side.

Their (their) whole side were now giving me dire warnings of what would happen to me if I didn’t at least make an effort to save it whilst my (my) lot were shouting at me to let it in. Meantime, I was trying to let our centre forward know that I would go to my left by using exaggerated eye movements etc, and it seemed that judging by the wry smile on his face, he had got the message. As he ran up, I dived to my left and he, thinking that I had actually been telling him to put it to that side, put his shot exactly where I ended up with the result that the ball hit me and bounced back into open play.

Such was the shock of my actually saving a penalty taken by my own side, that their (their) defenders won the ball, screamed up field and scored whilst my own team remained rooted firmly to the spot in total disbelief. The result being that I ended up on both the winning and losing sides.

Inevitably, as soon as the whistle blew, the repercussions began and eventually, after a blazing row, I resigned my position as manager and never played for the team again.

You see, I told you. Unbelievable.

.

wings-of-a-sparrow-final.pngMy latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Just click on the relevant link to purchase via Amazon. It’s also available via all online retailers and in good bookshops.

For details of all current, future and previous books and movie projects, please visit www.dougiebrimson.com

 

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