I’ve loved football since as long as I can remember. I only just remember watching the 1978 World Cup, as a tiny young lad. I used to watch it a lot with my granddad, as we used to visit most weekends and it was on normal TV back then. I thought Tottenham were great, and remember with joy Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa playing, they were the first South American players I recall coming to England, and they were brilliant. I went to my first match when I was 9, at my beloved Huddersfield Town, and I’ve been a fan ever since, not really giving a stuff what division they have played in, it doesn’t really matter when you’re there, you just want them to win.
I have many friends that are football fans, my closest friends are football fans, Leeds mostly, some Liverpool, Bradford, Manchester United, and I love talking about football with them.
I remember the Bradford fire, watching it with my granddad live on television. He was a Bradford fan, and from his house, we could see the smoke. It was only 4/5 miles from the ground. I remember it, but I don’t think I understood the impact until many years later. I saw the Hillsborough disaster live on TV. Heysel too. I remember seeing those images of dead people, but again, not really understanding the impact it would have.
I’ve seen quite a bit of violence at matches, I was once punched in the back of the head by a group of 6 fans, after the THREE of us had tried to congratulate them on beating us 5-1. I’ve never understood football violence, I love football, I love my team, but it is just a game, words which divide some fans, but it is.
I saw some violence at a match a couple of years ago which made me sick to my stomach. Four “fans” beating up a fellow fan; same team. It was in the tier above me, and I couldn’t get there, I just watched it happen. Fists, kicks, four onto one. They punch others that tried to intervene, fans, stewards. Awful. They all went to prison, and they served their time, but they were lucky that man got up, because I don’t know how he did, and they should have faced an attempted murder charge. That put me off going to football.
I carried on going though, but I really had started to not enjoy it as much. There were too many things that annoyed me, not so much at my team, which is a well run club; it is owned by a man that is a fan of the team, he is using his own money, doing it sensibly. Huddersfield has won family club of the year for the last few years, is comparatively cheap compared to other clubs, having incentives for reducing costs and is the second cheapest in the whole league on average, and it is a nice place to go. But I’d got sick of other things as well; diving, cheating, the ridiculous affair with goal line technology, player contracts, sulking players, players not playing for their country or being “injured” just before a friendly, but mostly, I was sick of idiot fans and with FIFA, and the fool that runs it.
It was all brought home this morning, when I read Sepp Blatter’s comments about Nelson Mandela and his sad passing. There was nothing inherently wrong with what he said, just the fact that when you compare Nelson Mandela’s achievements in his life, and doing all he could to unite people of different colour, and then you compare Sepp Blatter’s achievements, well, the comparison is just that, black and white.
Racism at football matches is as rife as ever in football, and I am sick of their pathetic attitude to it. I don’t want it any more. It is down to ignorance and stupidity, and football still attracts these types in their droves, and I don’t want to be near such people. Monkey chanting, throwing bananas on the pitch? You thick bastards.
I’ll tell you what will help though, give the World Cup to Russia. It doesn’t happen there. Does it? A lot? Ah well. Tell you want, let’s give the next World Cup to Qatar where people are a bit darker. Being homosexual is illegal, but you can’t have everything, right?
WRONG. Football is a game, a wonderful, wonderful game, which is enjoyed by men, women, young, old, black, white, gay, straight, anyone, and you should be able to play it, and watch it, without being judged. If you are abused for being any of those things while watching or playing it, then the governing bodies need to act, fast and effectively. Look at what Nelson Mandela did for race relations; pretty spectacular eh? Sepp Blatter has been involved with FIFA since 1975, as a Technical Director, General Secretary and President for the last 15 years. What’s he done? Other that state that a handshake can cure any race row; brilliant.
Football has moved on in many ways for the better. There was an episode of Life On Mars where Sam Tyler was talking to a football hooligan. It was incredibly poignant and moving seeing things with hindsight, about stadium safety and how fans should be treated and act.
But in many ways, football is in the dark ages still, and lessons that were learned by my generation are being lost on the young ones due to the fact barely anything has been done in the last 20 years to eradicate the bad side of football. I rarely even watch it on the TV now. I used to watch every match when an international tournament was on if I could. Not any more. I’ve had enough of it, and I’m pretty miffed to be honest, because I love it, but I sat watching tributes to Nelson Mandela last night, from many different people, and watched him at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, being cheered by a predominantly white crowd, as he sported the Springbok kit and all that it stood for, and marvelled at what Francois Pienaar said, and felt quite emotional about it all.
Then this morning, I read what Sepp Blatter said. Well Mr Blatter, if you were that inspired by him, and you should be, get your act together while you still have the chance. Otherwise, quit and let someone run FIFA that can. Please.
RIP Mr Mandela