Beano Niblock makes another contribution to the ongoing soccer discussion that has been taking place on TPQ. A Derby County supporter, Beano Niblock is a writer of poetry, plays and political commentary.
I think even a couple of these short points validates everything we are saying about “modern “ football and where it has went. Fluctuating kick off times is only one strand. In recent years I have booked to go to matches in England months in advance-to get best flight deals and assure accommodation. Only for Sky to change the match from a Saturday to a Sunday!! Result?—having to change a flight and book an extra night in a hotel. Hardly fair on the many thousands of fans who travel to the mainland each week to watch games.
I still enjoy football and would watch regularly — but alas not with the same fervour as I did when young. We have been spoiled and indeed we have overdosed on the Sky diet —plus those other newer force feeders, BT Sport et al. And at times you hanker for the halcyon days of tight shorts and muddy pitches, proper tackles and managers with car coats. There is no suggestion from me that the old game was any better, more skilful, faster or more athletic than the modern one. But for me what was more attractive, for all its faults, was for the most part the honesty and integrity of the game and its connection with working class communities. The days of the corncrake wielding and flat capped woodbine smoking crowd have faded into history but so too have the ideals of the modern “riders and runners” of the present day game. The owners and administrators who have sold out to the oligarchs like Murdoch and who then in turn have transformed the modern player into the footballing equivalent of gigolos and bimbos, must take the bulk of the blame. Players, whilst remaining mercenary and rapacious, less so, but alas they too are a symptom of the malaise of Premier League football.
During my time in the various establishments, I found, like Anthony McIntyre, that outside of the usual suspects of Man U, Liverpool and to a certain extent Leeds — think Billy Hutchinson — there weren’t many other teams had much of a following. Tottenham to a certain extent I suppose — not much in the line of Arsenal or Chelsea, but strangely enough there were 4 Derby County supporters that I knew of.
As a disciple of Clough I led a lonely life through early Kesh and Magilligan days. Even allowing for the fact that Derby were reigning champions when I traversed the LK gates for the first time, and then repeated the feat albeit under Dave Mackay with a Clough team in 1975, by which time I was in the Crumlin Road. I was still ridiculed on many occasions. Imagine my delight when arriving back in LK from my exile in the County Londonderry countryside, to find 3 kindred spirits!! No longer did I have to hold a solitary meeting in a toilet cubicle: now we fellow Rams could afford the luxury of a cubicle or the drying room .... well at least until 1980, by which time the other three had been released.