The latest addition to my 'Worthy Blog List' comes courtesy of The Hairy Birder, who birds and rings in the Fleetwood and Fylde area - it's good to get a bit of NW England influence, to counter the plethora of blogs that I have gathered from the North East.
And now for one of my occasional 'off-piste' posts that have nothing to to with birding, naff all to do with looking at twigs or even glancing at mothy things. It is also a rant. This is about Football...
I am a lifelong football fan, brought up by my Father to appreciate the 'Beautiful Game', although his supporting of Stoke City did not rub off on me and I chose to follow Tottenham Hotspur - and before anyone should suggest that I should have supported a more local team, back in 1968 (when I nailed my allegiance to the mighty Spurs), we lived in Hertfordshire and they were the first team that I saw live (versus Stoke, November 2nd, 1-1 draw if you're interested).
When we moved south in 1971 I still wanted the buzz of seeing live football, and Crystal Palace FC was but a bus journey away. Between September 1971 (Liverpool 0-1 loss) and April 1974 (Chelsea 2-0 win) I attended almost all of their home games. I was a football fan, the fact that Tottenham were not playing in most of them didn't matter. On my modest pocket money I could:
Pay to get in and stand behind the goal
Buy a programme
Pay for the bus fare to and from the ground
Buy a bag of chips
Remember, Palace were a First Division club then (confusingly what the Premiership is today). Try doing that little lot on a kids pocket money today.
Along came birding, but I still followed football, watched it avidly on the TV, took in the odd game (including some birding/football combinations, such as Swansea v Watford when I went and dipped on the Pwll Killdeer, and West Ham v Watford (FA Cup third round) on a return visit to see the Lowestoft Franklin's Gull.
Back then, at the start of every season, we had no idea who would be the First Division champions - there was Leeds United, Derby County, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Ipswich Town and, yes, Tottenham all vying for the title (Manchester United were in the doldrums at the time). And sometimes a team would come from nowhere and take the prize - Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa both did just that. So, as you can see, there were surprises to be had at pocket money prices. Kick off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. Same 11 on the pitch unless someone had an injury. And the FA Cup was the biggest event of the season. My God how times change...
2014 The facts
Only one team will win the Premier league title this season and it's only November.
If Southampton have another good season then the big clubs will gang up and plunder them just like they did last season.
Any half decent player at a smaller club will be lassoed by a bigger club and dragged into their vast squad to spend the season sitting on the bench.
Even if they do not need another midfield player, the big clubs will buy one (or two, or three) just to stop anybody else from having them.
The England team is currently made up of players who would not have been good enough to have had a sniff of international football 15 years ago.
Sky and BT television coverage will make out that the 0-0 bore draw that you have just watched meant something and paper over the fact that there are players on £80,000 a week who cannot kick a ball with both feet.
Nobody, apart from teams like Blyth Spartans, Aylesbury and Sutton United, give a shit about the FA Cup.
I am getting to the point where I am falling out of love with the 'high end' of football. It is big business dressed up in tinsel, pretending to be the same game that has been watched for 130 plus years. It is not. It is now just the playground of rich men, who charge extortionate prices for the privilege of watching a team of mercenaries 'kiss the badge' until they find another, more lucrative badge to kiss. Stadiums have largely lost their atmosphere.
I subscribe to Sky and BT Sport. Both are bloated by football, from five-six Premier League games each weekend, same numbers of La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga matches. Watch each one and see the same old thing - histrionics, play acting, wrestling at corners - the players going through the same tired old game plans, daring not to deviate for fear of the wrath of the coach. In todays game there would be no room for a Glenn Hoddle, a Matt leTissier, a Tony Currie, a Stan Bowles, a Rodney Marsh, a Frank Worthington (you see, they didn't track back, they didn't tackle). Maybe they didn't, but they could bloody well PLAY FOOTBALL WITH FREEDOM AND FLAIR...
Just don't get me started on FIFA