Is Football Really Better Now Than It Was Fifty Years Ago?

Posted: January 30, 2018 in Arsenal, Chelsea, European Football, Football, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Opinion, Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur
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Our education is now complete. We have, very recently, learned that Sky Sports News is sponsored by The Sun newspaper. We should have been able to guess as much and the only real surprise here is that it came as a surprise at all!

So one peddler of amateurish and exaggerated hyperbole, (Ed – is it possible to exaggerate hyperbole?), sponsors another. A match made in heaven, if ever there was one!

But we digress because this has nothing to do with the subject on which we are about to impart our considered and valued opinions.


Roman Abramovich kindly let us photograph the contents of his wallet for this article!

Money! That’s what this here game of football is all about. It is now a rich man’s game and the big clubs are a rich man’s playthings. Europe is one giant Monopoly board and the properties have been replaced by football clubs with Sheikhs, Russians, Americans and the occasional Oriental billionaire being the custodians of the terrier, the cat, the top hat, the battleship, the rubber duck, the T. Rex, the penguin and the racing car.

One of the problems is that these money men are only interested in buying the expensive properties. They couldn’t care less about the Old Kent Road and Whitechapel. Consequently, clubs which were hardly tiny to start with, have become massive and the last two to benefit greatly from somebody else’s wealth are now favourites to win the Champion’s League.

All this seems a long way from what it used to be.

Back in the day when WSA was wsa junior, Manchester United, for example, was owned by Louis Edwards. He had left school at 14 to join the family’s meat packing business and he became chairman of the club in 1965. He remained in his position until his death in 1980 when the clown Michael Knighton tried to buy the club with no money! He failed.


Paddy Crerand wins the ball against West Brom in front of the new-ish Cantilever Stand at Old Trafford

The crowd at Old Trafford in those days was regularly around the 63,000 capacity and this meant arriving at the ground at least two hours before kick-off in order to be seated by three o’clock, particularly for the big games.

Season tickets were always available but in all the years attending matches at Old Trafford, we never knew anyone who had one. That came much later. On the odd occasion there would be no seats left in the Stretford End when we got to the match so we would either have to stand or try and find a seat in the Scoreboard End. The point being that we always got in.

The last time we visited Old Trafford there was a sign on the ticket office stating that the next four home matches were sold out!

So what is the difference now that the big clubs can spend billions on players? Is football more competitive? Certainly the English national team isn’t. In the 52 years since their World Cup win they haven’t come close to winning anything at all, not even achieving a runners-up spot.

European club football is still dominated by the big clubs as it was in the sixties and seventies although there are probably more clubs now who could win the Champion’s League than used to be the case when it was the European Cup.

The ball is lighter, is that an improvement? – Well it doesn’t hold water quite so well as the old “caseys” did, but that is the only improvement. Being lighter hasn’t made any difference.


How Paul Pogba’s footwear has evolved!

The players wear different coloured boots, is that an improvement? – No, definitely not. Again the way boots are manufactured nowadays is an improvement although they don’t seem to give as much protection. The various colours just make the players look more like ballerinas than footballers.

Squad numbers have replaced team numbers, is that an improvement? – Only for the sale of shirts. The clubs can now sell a particular player’s shirt because his squad number won’t change, not throughout the season and sometimes not even throughout his career. Other than that the shirt numbers now mean nothing whereas they used to tell the crowd which position a player was in for that game.

The pitches seem to remain green all season, is that an improvement? – Certainly, and probably the best “improvement” of the lot. Players at the top level no longer have to trudge through mud or ice in order to have a shot at goal which, if not quite hit with the force of a cannonball, would be likely to stick in the puddle on the goal line!


Very healthy stuff!

The player’s diet is better, is that an improvement? – Probably, players certainly seem fitter nowadays although the managers tend to contradict this by perpetually moaning on about how tired their players get after playing 180 minutes of football in only seven days.

It is, however, a vast improvement from when we used to see certain Manchester City players leaving the pub at 2 o’clock on a Saturday, fag in mouth, to dash to Maine Road in time to play an important game!

We would say that the atmosphere at the big games is not as good now as it used to be and that some of the “local” clubs are now so big that they have lost all that identified them with the area which spawned them.

We could continue for a while but time and the word-count for this article have beaten us. So, in conclusion football, even with the infusion of so much money, has only actually improved in a couple of areas.

All that has really been achieved is that the super-rich have found yet another way of making even more money and the game has moved further away from what used to be it’s lifeblood, the fans.



  1. Bernard says:

    The lighter ball is not necessarily an improvement IMO as the ball more often than not ends up in the top tier of the stand behind the goal, rather than where it is supposed to go, somewhere in the vicinity of the frame of the goal.


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