07 February 2007

The People's Game 1863-2007

Those were the daysThe People's Game, twin brother of The Beautiful Game which died only last year suffering from congested bungs, passed away yesterday as Liverpool FC, one of the last English football clubs actually capable of winning a soccer trophy beyond the award for "Best Second XI Away Strip", was converted into a "franchise" under overseas ownership.

Immensely popular throughout England almost from the moment of its creation, The People's Game was a simple entertainment, capable of uniting men up and down the country as they stood, cap on head and scarf round neck, in the terraces of a Sunday afternoon and shouted spirited encouragement to the members of their local team - most of whom were born and brought up within hailing distance of their home ground - and even more spirited imprecations against the rapscallions on the opposing side and the frailties of the person of questionable parentage in referee's uniform.

It was in the early 1990s that The People's Game began, like so many an England game, to drift slowly towards inevitable defeat in the penalty shoot-out of life. It was at that time that The Game first began its involvement with the notorious Americo-Australian lothario, Rupert Murdoch. Like Wedekind's Lulu, The Beautiful Game soon found itself living a life of wild excess, throwing its money away on a parade of vacuous pretty boys and brutish thugs ... many of whom would go on to play for England. Its appetites beyond satiation, even by Mr Murdoch's vast piles of cash, The People's Game was forced to go in search of more and more and richer and richer suitors, be they ageing American multimillionaires or billionaire Russian oligarchs. By the early noughties The People's Game was even willing to sell off the most successful football club England had ever seen to anyone with a bit of cash to spare for a new stadium.

This Was AnfieldYet even this was not the height of its infamy, for at the same time The People's Game was willing to offer almost anything (except, of course, a team capable of winning the World Cup) as it tried to extract the last penny from the pockets of its fans. With its ticket prices soaring and sports rights being sold for astronomical fees, The People's Game eventually put itself beyond the reach of those who loved it, thrusting itself instead into the hands of corporate sponsors whose perfect view of a match was out of the corner of an eye while doing a deal in the VIP restaurant and far-flung "fans" who were in less danger of visiting their team's stadium than Kettering FC are of winning the European cup.

The People's Game will be buried at the Church of St Lineker the Crisp-Seller. The Reverend Alan Hansen will read Psalm 4752 "The defence were woeful and no-one tracked back". Well-wishers are asked to send as much cash as possible.


GarethC said...

I agree to you to a point - but you seem to have omitted about 3 decades from the 60's to the 80's when hooliganism was rife, where organized crews would travel up and down the country for pre-arranged fights - not to mention such incidents as Heysel & Hillsborough. The list goes on. We've gone too far now, but I think it's a shame your rose tinted specs seem to make you think we've moved straight from "jumpers for goalposts" to the "prawn sandwich brigade" - there is plenty of history in between!

The As A Dodo Team said...

garethc - just for you here's the paragraph we omitted for reasons of space ...
The depth of the unity founded on a mere ninety-minutes of on-pitch "action" (a footballing term which, by tradition, applies just as much to a nine-goal stunner as to a rain-affected nil-nil draw) could be seen not merely by the fact that so many thousands were willing to face the prospect of half-time pies whose contents bore only dubious relation to the innards of any recognised food animal but also by the willingness of those same thousands to band together in the hours after the match, merrily wandering from public house to public house, doling out cheery kickings to any opposing team member who might happen across their path.

james higham said...

Beautiful post. Great tragedy. R.I.P.

Colin Campbell said...

Very little is sacred to the great god excess of investable income and not enough places to put it with either an emotional link or a chance it might turn a bob. Here in Australia there is a great deal of jingoistic rubbish being spun around the sell off of the Flying Kangaroo to some of those private equity funds.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Try non-league. Real people supporting real players who play for real clubs.

Da 'Gate