In a matter of days, English football will wake from it’s enforced slumber and return to it’s rightful position of being the most important topic of conversation in the land. Forget royal babies, Big Brother, the Tour De France, the economy, Syria or any of the numerous trivialities we’ve been forced to think about over the last few months, the worlds greatest game is what it’s really all about.
Now as I do each and every year, I have avoided the constant stream of bullshit which has surrounded the close-season transfer market so that when I walk into Vicarage Road next saturday to watch the first home pre-season friendly -traditionally the start of my season- it will be as if it’s all fresh and new. Although given everything that’s been going on at Watford lately, in this instance it actually will be!
However, I have kept my beady eyes on everything else and not for the first time, have noticed that there has been little news of any change which might impact on the role of possibly the games greatest asset, the fans.
This is far from a shock of course because I’ve been around long enough to know that whilst the game is totally reliant on us for pretty much everything and TV is busy selling the game on the back of the atmosphere that we create, the reality is that it doesn’t really give a shit about us.
But then again it doesn’t have to because we’re obsessed. The game knows full well that we’ll turn up week in, week out and pour money into the tills no matter how good or bad the product. Just as importantly, even when things go horribly wrong we have to put up with them because we are totally impotent in terms of either power or influence. We have no legitimate voice, football doesn’t want us to have a voice! Perish the thought that the game which is wholly reliant on us would actually listen to us let alone care about what we think! Football is after all, the only industry not driven by its consumers.
If it wasn’t, do you think for one second games that would be moved around on the whim of a copper or a TV scheduler with no thought for how fans are going to get home? And that’s just the start.
The list of things we can legally do inside grounds grows ever shorter whilst the restrictions placed upon us in and around grounds get more draconian by the season. As a consequence the passion, humour and even the shear excitement of being at football is diminishing year on year yet no one with the power to change things seems to care because no one with the power to change things has to care.
Can you honestly say that going to watch English football these days is the occasion it once was? Do you not look at fans in Italy, Spain, Russia, Germany, Turkey even countries like Greece and wish that our stadia were like that on match days? I bloody do. Every single week.
The irony is that it wouldn’t take much to get our game up to a par, if not beyond what we see in the rest of Europe. After all, there is nothing like an English football ground when it’s fired up. The question is, how?
Well how about this for starters:
- Start treating fans like adults instead of sheep. We don’t want much from football, but we do want to be treated with respect. Hooliganism inside grounds is a thing of the past and much of that is down to the actual fans themselves so how about the game not only recognising it but rewarding it? Stop hiding behind the fear of it.
- Bring back standing. It’s proven to work in Germany and there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t and shouldn’t work here. But the most important reason is that we want it. Period.
- Scrap designated seating. It’s a good idea in principle but in practice it’s the single biggest factor in the destruction of atmosphere inside our grounds. That is a cast iron fact.
- Allow flares inside grounds. They look astonishing and contribute to the sense of occasion. When used correctly they are perfectly safe as we see right across the continent every single week. Again, you can’t continue to hide behind the past and in truth you don’t need to.
- Allow drinking on the terraces. Yes, keep the rules regarding being hammered and enforce them accordingly but we’re adults for fucks sake.
Sadly, none of the above will happen because the game cannot see what is happening in front of its face and more importantly, the police are wary of giving up any degree of control however small.
But it’s nice to dream and maybe one day, when the football party come to power, some of it will actually turn to reality.
Couple of bits of news; As you may or may not have seen,Martin Kemp has been announced as the director of Top Dog which is brilliant news for all concerned not least because he’s a bloody good director!
We’ve been battering the script into shape and I’m happy to say that it’s now pretty much locked and ready for filming in November. I can’t wait!
In addition, my latest novel Wings of a Sparrow continues to attract great reviews and is selling so well that we’ll be bringing it out in paperback later this year. It’s also coming out in Russia in August and I’ll be visiting St. Petersburg and possibly Moscow in September to do some PR.
On top of that, I’m about to start work on another movie and am currently writing a new book. It’s going to be something very special and as far as I know, has never actually been done before so we’re all very excited about it but that’s all you’re getting for now.
Watch this space!
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