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Very sadbut very true!! The death of a game and culture!!


What is it that Guinness advert proclaims? "All good things come to those who wait". Well the Footballing Authorities may not have to wait too much longer until their transition of the game is complete. To rid the game of the bad and populate it only with the good. No more rowdy behaviour, no more rebels of society daring to stand up and make their feelings known, no more problems.

Their ideals consist of fans turning up every week, queuing to gain entry in an orderly fashion, having booked their tickets 3 months in advance. Entering the stadium and taking their seats, rising only to applaud goals where they dance along to carefully selected music over the PA, before clearing up their litter and disappearing into the countryside until the following weekend. No hassle, no passion, no noise.

"They'll only miss us once we've gone"

As the game I know and love becomes more diluted by the passing year, I often wonder just when the breaking point will come. When will those authorised with sanitising our game realise the error of their ways? Or can they not actually see that they are breaking the very foundations of what has made this sport a success? Pound signs blur their vision, seen all too often in every walk of life. Greed takes over, people want more. They've exhausted the Premier League "brand" and now have visions of taking it further afield; the infamous "Game 39". Translated to you and me, meaning they have milked pretty much every penny they can from the "consumers" in this country, and now want to tap into the pockets of those football hungry consumers overseas. All in the name of expanding the pockets of the shareholders, players and governing bodies of our sport. Our sport, not theirs.

If I rewind 7 or 8 years; I'm leaving the house on a matchday and making my way to Anfield. There was no need to ring around in the morning; I'd just turn up and walk into one of two or three pubs around the ground, and would bump into people I knew. You knew where everyone would drink, and had done for years. The same faces, the people that made this club what it is. I can pop my head into those same pubs now, and I wouldn't recognise a soul. Those long standing supporters have now all but disappeared, replaced by families from all over, decked out in official replica sportswear and taking pictures of anything that moves. There's a smaller crowd of us left and tend to keep out of the way. We don't conform. Those areas around the ground have now been taken over by the new brigade, while the old guard retreat to pastures further afield.

Year after year, more and more people are dropping away. There's still a hardcore of a few hundred that travel everywhere. There's still thousands that go to every home game just like they always have. But it's becoming harder and harder for these people to carry on. Supporters being replaced by consumers. Participants being replaced by spectators. Just how much higher can the bar be raised by the controlling bodies before they've pushed away everyone that gave the game it's appeal in the first place? What happens when the passion disappears for good? You can't manufacture passion, no matter how hard some clubs try.

They have mascots running up and down the touchline trying to encourage the fans. At Bolton they play "I feel good" when they score, with two young lads running the length of the pitch with big flags. Music played after goals is now commonplace, as if fans don't know how to celebrate a goal by themselves. Is it because they realise the passion is dead and are trying to hang onto a small semblence of it? Or is it aimed at manufacturing a friendly atmosphere to suit their agenda?

Manufactured support; I can't think of anything worse. Handing out those clappers seems to be the next step this season, with the whole of St.Andrews clapping along with them before their opening game. This in a ground that used to be known as one of the most passionate and hostile in football; now transformed into a childrens play ground with everybody doing as they are told. Sat down and singing what the club want them to sing, and clapping when they want them to clap. So sad. Ticket prices on the increase there every season, and a ground I now refuse to visit. £40 for an away ticket some 4 years ago. No thanks. It doesn't take a genius to work out why they barely fill half of that ground any more.

Newcastle had their lowest league attendance for nearly a decade at the weekend, with cash turnstiles in operation, entry for £10 if you bought a replica shirt and other such promotions, but still had thousands of empty seats. Manchester United have been contacting everybody on their mailing lists trying to push season ticket sales again this summer. Whereas Old Trafford used to be like Fort Knox when it came to getting in, they're now closer to resembling one of the happy hour bars in Benidorm, with teenagers stood outside handing out cards with promotional offers to encourage trade. What was once a closed shop, is now opening it's doors and trying to drag people in off the streets.

Is the football bubble about to burst? I hope so.

On Monday night, Portsmouth's most famous fan, the bell ringer with the blue hair, or less commonly known as "John", was approached by the ground staff at Fratton Park and asked to keep the noise down. I'm sure it's not only me that's absolutely staggered by that. Asked to stop ringing his bell and keep the noise down, in a football ground! The mind boggles. But it's another notch on the many that have been made previously, in slowly sanitising the way we support our teams.

We are told we're not allowed to stand up as it's unsafe; yet rugby sides play in exactly the same stadia and those rules don't apply. Apparently it's safe for rugby fans to stand in those same seated areas, but not football fans (the reasons for that I could write a book on, and will address again). It's madness. They're also allowed to drink in their seats while watching the game. I know of a fan that was facing a 3 year football banning after peering over the exits at White Hart Lane to catch a goal he'd missed when coming down early at half time. He'd walked down the steps, was handed a pint by a friend, and heard the roar from the stands. He went halfway back up the steps to see what had happened, when two officers arrested him for consuming alcohol in view of the playing surface. It defies belief. But I'm told we're different. As our friend from Portsmouth has pointed out this week; would this sort of discrimination be accepted anywhere else, or by anyone else, but football fans?

I was on a final warning in my old season ticket seat for foul and abusive language. I was reported by fellow fans for swearing, and risked losing my season ticket. Now in that seat, I was reserved, very reserved. It was on the halfway line and not a noise was made all season by anyone. They were spectators, I'm a participant, or like to be. I want to go to the game and let off some steam. I go to work to pay the bills, put a roof over the family heads, and to enjoy myself during my time off. I choose to do that at the football, something I've grown up with. It's always been a part of who I am. But in that seat, I had to control myself and just sit and watch the game, conforming to those around me for over 7 years. I must have sworn a handful of times in that entire period, when telling the referee where to go or some other trivial slip of the tongue. Yet I faced losing my season ticket and not being able to support my side over it. I was one swear word away from walking away from the game for good. If this was in a family enclosure I'd understand. I know when swearing is unacceptable, and in my view, a football ground is one of those places where it fits.

When I go to the match, I want to stand with fellow fans, my friends. I want to participate in the game, I want to support the side. I want to shout and I want to sing. I want to do the things that made me fall in love with the game and going to the match. But one by one, the authorities are trying to take all those things out of our game. To have us sat in silence, only singing when they want us to sing, and singing the songs they want us to sing. Blaring music over the PA system we are supposed to dance along to. We're unable to create an atmosphere ourselves it seems. For the future, see American sports for how it will go. Club issue foam hands can already be seen, dancing girls have been tried, the list goes on.

Keep sanitising; you'll soon be wondering where it all went wrong, when the very people that made this game what it is, have all long since disappeared. There's not many of us left. Soon there will be none.

Enjoy modern football. Enjoy scratching your heads in some plush office arguing with each other about who's to blame when the crowds start to stay away. I'll be long past the caring stage. You'll have brought it upon yourselves and destroyed a game loved by millions in the process. I hope it's worth it.


  • One of the best posts I have ever read!

    Agree 100%
  • edited August 2008
    Aren't the gaps in the seats at Newcastle etc a product of the difficult financial circumstances that currently pertain rather than the anything to do with fans voting with their feet?

    If he doesn't like goal music, tell him to come to the Valley!

    But whats the answer? Go back to ramshackle stadia with one hundred foot long urinals or pissing in peoples pockets on the terraces? Life has moved on. Ordinary people want more comforts than in yester year. There is a case for some safe standing but I don't want it for me, I'd rather have a comfortable seat, and please don't tell me I'm less of a fan because of it.

    I remember yester year. There were few women who felt able to come to a male dominated domain. If you were black or had coloured skin, you were lucky to get in and out alive. As a kid you kept your gob shut around testosterone inflamed loud and foul mouth yobs some old enough to be your father strutting like tatooed peacocks up and down the terraces. I remember standing as an eleven year old lad watching Chelsea v Spurs at Stamford Bridge in a 60,000 crowd with the rain streaming down, wet through, crapping myself as fights broke out between rival fans and being able only to see one half of the pitch which was 50% covered in water. Crapping it again as we ran the gauntlet trying to make our way back to our coach. Standing watching the Addicks at White Hart Lane as Spurs fans attempted to attack us haveing invaded the pitch at half time. Walking down South Norwood High Street in 1974/5 hiding in a shop as fans fought openly in the street.

    I know there is still violence and yobbish behaviour at football games now, and there have been incidents like at Palace last season where ordinary fans have been attacked by mindless thugs. Most of the time football grounds are safe for families, women, ethnic minorties etc. Do those who go display passion in supporting their team - absolutely? Take the anger displayed to the muppet Ref on Saturday, that was great and it spurred on the team. I am afraid the writer, whoever he is, in my view is harking back to a golden era which actually wasn't so good as he makes out.
  • The bubble will burst and when it does the only constant will be proven to be the one thing that modern football has forgotten about most - us the fans
  • the answer Bing is the Bundersliga. Packed stadiums, safe terraces, a noisy fans culture, and young supporters attending games for a tenner.

    We're not allowed the debate in this country cause Hillsborough is the excuse of the authorities hide behind, cynically using 96 deaths to end discussion.

    Germanys the future, the English just can't accept it.
  • [cite]Posted By: Rothko[/cite]the answer Bing is the Bundersliga. Packed stadiums, safe terraces, a noisy fans culture, and young supporters attending games for a tenner.

    We're not allowed the debate in this country cause Hillsborough is the excuse of the authorities hide behind, cynically using 96 deaths to end discussion.

    Germanys the future, the English just can't accept it.

    I am personally in favour of safe standing areas for those who want it and I have signed petitions about it, it's just that I prefer to sit. This bloke in my view is just ranting for a bygone era. I don't think for one moment that he would really like the Bundesliga option, this is about a middle aged person rueing the passing of time and yearning to be young again. He doesn't convince me I'm afraid.
  • [quote][cite]Posted By: Terry Naylor[/cite]One of the best posts I have ever read!

    Agree 100%[/quote]

    have to agree
  • edited August 2008
    Yeah, bring back the old days! Yeah - pissing down the terrace, lovely old wooden stands, thumping people, and "no blacks, no Irish" in the pubs afterwards before going home and beating the wife! Yeah!

    Or, as Bing and Rothko point out, we take a tip off a country which hasn't sold its football culture out to either greed or complacency. If you always look back, you'll never move forward.
  • unfortunately despite the massive amount of money pumped into the premiership by tv we are still in the main being subjected to massive ticket prices .

    I didn't go to watford mainly because it was 23 quid in , some people may say that isn't that bad but I honestly belive that no match in our division should be over£15 to get into but the reason these matches cost so much is for one reason only and that is the silly money being paid to players . Right now these players probably think this is fantastic but it could lead to the whole bubble bursting . Clubs are going to the wall or into admin left right and centre and that aint cos of the fans .

    I have spent thousands watching Charlton up and down the country but that was mostly when I was 18 and living at home but I look at football now and think there can be no way that kids of that age would be able to afford to do what I did now. I also would go to random matches involving other teams when we were away and I couldn't make it or we didn't have a match , I've spent many an afternoon watching matches from greenwich borough all the way up to the old division one but prices and very little pay on the day chances have meant this has stopped.

    I don't think anyone in their right mind would want a return to the run down urine stinking football grounds of the past but we certainly need to find a mid ground as the stadia of today are far too sterile. I made a great deal of friends in the days of terracing due to the fact that you might meet someone on the coach/train to away games and have a couple of pints then go and stand with them at the match but now with allocated seats we don't often have that chance.

    With the current credit crunch looming or in some cases already hit us we will have to pick and choose which games to go to unless the clubs do something about the prices.
  • 5 word summary, please.
  • [cite]Posted By: Mortimerician[/cite]5 word summary, please.

    Clichéd blinkered nostalgic middle-aged angst
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  • edited August 2008
    Far too often, our beloved Valley is as silent as a morgue, so the article writer does have a point - the atmosphere, energy and passion displayed in the crowd seems to have diluted to the point where fans sit quietly through the game as if they were watching a play at the theatre.

    Last Saturday it took, as Bing delightfully puts it, a muppet referee and a chorus of "W*nker, W*nker, W*NKER!, to rouse our fans to create a Valley roar once again.

    Nobody really wants to go back to ramshackle grounds, violence and prejudice. However, if the Germans can create a safe standing area, good atmosphere and the feel good factor that goes with it, surely there is scope for something on these lines to be introduced into a section of today's CCC & Prem grounds?

    Bing and others may choose to sit - and of course they've always had that choice, as even back when Bing and I were kids every ground had at least one 'grandstand'. But today, even at my age (53), given the choice I would choose to stand.

    And why not?

    Recently we had discussions on here about how much CL posters enjoyed going to grounds like Dartford, Welling, Bromley and Dulwich Hamlet. Do we have to watch lower league or non-league football in order to enjoy games like the way we used to watch Charlton ........ ?

    Nothing's perfect, past or present - but in my opinion the pendulum does seem to have swung a little too far and too inflexibly.
  • He raises some interesting points re:declining attendances but at the same time misses the point that if you are paying £40plus for a ticket you are entitled to a degree of comfort, safety and entertainment. I'm all for safe standing, as most are, but until it's introduced we are all going to have to show a degree of consideration to those around us who might also have spent £100's on their day out for them and the kids, etc. Not sure what he's getting at re:not being allowed to stand (I'm sure he'd blame Nth Yorks police of course) but if I were a Liverpool supporter I think I'd start looking a little closer to home...
  • Its a middle ground people are after and the Germans have it spot on.
    I can go over there watch a top game and come back for cheaper than it cost me to do burnley/preston away etc on the train.

    What away game are you most looking forward to this season for the atmosphere etc? me, Palace of course, which will be one game that anywhere near resembles yesteryear. Anyone else feel the same?

    The Germans have seated and safe standing areas, get massive attendances, get their travel often included with the match tickets (which is cheap as chips). If they don't the travel is cheap anyway. I know I could take the coach to away games which is cheap, but that isn't me. I should be able to trvel how I want to a game without being ripped off.

    Organising an away trip for even a few people these days is an absolute nightmare. And the kids have just got no chance of being able to afford it. how many use to go on there own or with mates when they were 12-15. It just isn't possile now, unless Mummy & daddy are paying. The working class kids can not afford it, and it will result in a lost generation, and a passionless generation.

    The bit about st Andrews says it all for me i used to love going to that place, even as late as 98 (yes it was intimidating) but it's those memories I look back at fondly. Not a trip to Anfield with in the 00's with a completley family away support. St Andrews is sterile as anything now.
    Stoke will be a cauldron this year,an intimidating, exciting place to watch football. If they stay up they will go exactly the same way!!
  • edited August 2008
    Just the best article I have read on any forum.............hits more nails on the head than a roofers hammer.

    And it sums up my own thoughts for sometime, but maybe that's why for the first time in as long as I can remember I dont have a season ticket this season.
  • or are u becoming indifferent to it SOS i am .
  • edited August 2008
    [cite]Posted By: son of selhurst[/cite] maybe that's why for the first time in as long as I can remember I dont have a season ticket this season.

    Nah - it's because you're rubbish
  • edited August 2008
    [cite]Posted By: northstandsteve[/cite]or are u becoming indifferent to it SOS i am .

    Yes i am. Which would have seemed impossible ten years ago. I think the bostock thing was the final straw for me. As a supporter, i dont expect palace to win any major trophies or even be in the top division. But when i now have to accept that i can forget about the chance of palace finding another good young player who might give us a couple of years before being stuck on the bench at spurs et al..........well whats the point....if the player is poached before he has even kicked a ball.
  • edited August 2008
    Good point. Like us losing Defoe. A rule should be implemented to prevent this. You also lost that Hudson fella to someone didn't you ;-
  • [cite]Posted By: The Organiser[/cite]

    What away game are you most looking forward to this season for the atmosphere etc? me, Palace of course, which will be one game that anywhere near resembles yesteryear. Anyone else feel the same?

    So... you're looking forward to an away game because you loathe the opposition, and you're in a shitty condemned stand that feels like it'll fall apart if more than four of you jump up and down?

    I'm looking forward to winning there, but I'm not that excited about going there.
  • Gave my season ticket up when my first son was born and to be honest for a while you get get by without it, the standard Saturday, brekki at Bill's Cafe (Eltham), cab to Charlton, 5 pints in The Oak (cos that's about optimum throughput to get through to half time without needing a wee) and then back in The Oak or greenwich for the evening...but then I became a father and the only thing that was important was my children....well now my eldest is 5 1/2 I'm about to take him to his first Charlton game next Sat against Wolves, I'm so excited I can remember my first ever proper game, my dad ( An armchair Gunner) got us tickets for Arsenal against (I think) Ipspwich, I'm sure you all have a similar memory of your first game (though it never made me a Gunner) - So what's changed, I've supported CAFC for many a year, we've been GOOD (occasionally), BAD (sporadically) and indifferent (most of the time) - If you want glory you'd support ManU, but I want my children to have the depth of character to support the LOCAL side, the LOCAL team, even if they haven't got bucket's of money from USA or Russia or wherever, CAFC have never been a business to me, they are a club, you can't choose your local team they are forced upon you, dependant on where your damn parents decide to live, and when you enter into that realm, well you either accept the inevitable (We haven't got enough money so if our prized centre forward gets injured we'll have to put Ambrose up there) we can't compete with the big boys....BUT and here's the rub, if they are gunna play their heart out to wear the Charlton shirt they're ok by me. Last 2 years were a disgrace in my opioion, many players not deserving the jersey, this year looks promising, youngsters, lower division players, whatever, if they need to win, then they will do for me, the rest of it for fans, stand up/sit down/ beer/ smoke who cares, get behind your local team or else go and support Man U and their millions, what is in you ? - But if they tell ya to be quiet, hmm anyone who knows me after 5 pints of Stalla no-one is stopping me explaining to the ref just what I think about him...:-)

    Happy days, here's to a promotion year, but to be honest apart from being able to watch 20 seconds on MOTD, has anything really changed.....?
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  • One thing that comes to mind about the Bundesliga is that it seems to be a league that has a lot of trouble holding onto the best (if you equate best with most expensive) players. Save Bayern (and they're hardly immune to losing players to the EPL and La Liga, seemingly often based on mere economics), from over here, in every window the Bundesliga seems to be a selling league.

    I do appreciate that I'm generalising, and even if true, the German fans are apparently willing to accept that lot so long as they get a quality day out at a reasonable cost. I suppose the one question that brings up in my mind is why the German national side seems to always be of high quality and yet has such a high proportion of its players playing in the Bundesliga...

    That said, in North America, the highest level of professional sports is increasingly critisised for marginalizing the "fan in the stands" in favour of those in corporate boxes the same as in the UK. I don't want to suggest that this sort of phenomenon is running rampant, but it's hardly unique to football, or even to sport.
  • There are a lot of good players left in the Bundesliga - potentially the best footballer in Europe - Diego is still at Werder Bremen for example, Luca Toni and Miro Klose are at Bayern Munich etc and most teams have one or two players who could make it in the Premier League.

    The reason why the Bundesliga is a good product isn't just about standing or the relative cheapness of tickets, there are few star teams - Bayern Munich are the best in the league, otherwise there is no "Big Four" with Arsenal, Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool always finishing one to four, so there is greater equality amongst the teams meaning on their day any team could beat any other team, therefore there's a little less inevitability about results and although the standard of football from a technical perspective isn't that high there seem to be few boring games. Yesterday Hamburg came from 2-0 down vs Bielefeld to win 4-2, Bremen were 3-0 against the Gladbachers but scored two late goals and almost escaped with a point. In recent years Bremen, Stuttgart, Bayern Munich, Dortmund have won the Bundesliga and the teams that finish second and third (only the top three qualify for the CL) differ from year to year.

    This year's surprise packet are Hoffenheim, based in Mannheim while their ground is being built, ok they have been funded by a software billionnaire (Dietmar Hopp who made his money with SAP). Over the last few years they've steadily worked their way through the leagues and were promoted to Bundesliga 1 last season. Despite having no stars they've made a decent start winning a couple of games, mostly though hard work and good coaching rather than brought in talent.
  • [cite]Posted By: The Organiser[/cite]
    What away game are you most looking forward to this season for the atmosphere etc? me, Palace of course, which will be one game that anywhere near resembles yesteryear. Anyone else feel the same?

    Yep, the fact that it is a bit like the old days, crappy old stand (but good acoustics), old school refreshment concourse, a derby, will prolly be able to stand the whole game (plus that's the terrace where I first saw CAFC from). And also cos there'll be a bit of an 'atmopsphere' which is completely lacking nowadays.

    Also Cardiff away I have to add. The last time we stand on a terrace for a while?
  • And what goes on in Germany DOES seem like a perfect compromise. Not that it'll ever happen here (realism, not pessimissm)!
  • Germany has never had a "Hillsborough" and the fear of a similar disaster happening (regardless of the causes/responsibility) will prevent anyone from sticking their neck out and allowing standing again.
  • edited September 2008
    I agree with quite a few points in the article, but can't help thinking that the writer is being a little precious about "his football". why can't new people join in? without new people, his club may not exist? without new people, they may not be able to afford that new player? or that new stand they've just built?
    Football has to evolve as time goes on, and that is all that has happened, sadly other factors have come into the mix, the alcohol, seating, american music, high prices etc but its just evolving. The players are paid more, thats just life, it was always going to change, fans need to be attracted to clubs, so they have to make it available to families/women etc, which means making it perhaps safer, installing family areas, they have to then encourage these new fans to get involved, by giving clappers to them etc.
    how many people went mad when people got into football after Euro 96, or enjoy cricket after the ashes, i've been accused of jumping on a cricket bandwagon before, how dare people pretend it is is their own sport to enjoy in their own way and not let anyone else get involved? the writer of this article is looking at the old days as HIS OWN old days, and that no one is allowed to share and those that have got involved have spoilt it for him. without those people, he might not have had a team to support so perhaps he should be a bit more thankful.
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