Sunday, 15 February 2015

Now I'm gonna have to turn my back on you ...

On Wednesday night I decided I was going to try and cut Everton out of my life. The goal of course is to shit out the Premier League - that's the virus. Everton is the host. I'm 43 and have supported them since I was about six. My first visit to the magnificently huge Goodison Park was against Norwich in the late 70s.

It wasn't the defeat to Chelsea - although that didn't help - that finished me off, that just happened to be the day I finally had enough.

A few years ago I'd have been gutted by that late goal but as it was I just shrugged because, in essence, I don't care any more.

I rarely go the match now and on the occasions I have it's become more and more obvious that it just doesn't mean that much to me. I first got the feeling at N├╝rnberg away - a great trip but for the match itself it just seemed to affect other people more than me.

Of course if Everton were any good it might be different. But they're not so it isn't.

Wednesday's match sums it up for me. Eden Hazard is a brilliant player but he's operating in a time where tackling is all-but illegal - everything's a foul and nothing's handball.

When he - or any of them - gets the ball in the area a defender can't afford to tackle because if he misses and there is "contact" that's it. It makes the game laughable. "Contact" is now the second major currency in a match, after goals. It's all they talk about on those wretched droneathons which fill the airwaves in the ever-briefer moments between matches.

We're living in a time where people go out of their way, not only to hear Robbie Savage, but also speak to him. Why?

Back to the Chelsea game though. Jose Mourinho, the twerp's twerp, made a point that Everton were fouling a lot in the game. But they weren't. The referee was blowing for fouls a lot because every time there was the blessed "contact" the Chelsea players were demanding a foul, which in the main they got.

The referee in that game - arch vole John Moss - clearly swallowed it over the "strangling" incident, and that's inexcusable, but just imagine the pressure on him. Not only on the pitch, but from the sidelines when you've got a "personalty" like Mourinho demanding obedience. That doesn't excuse the ref's shithousery but I think it goes a way to explaining it. Sub-consciously you're going to want to keep that little prick onside.

Not to suggest it's all Chelsea - they're no worse than a lot of them but they're the last game I saw. As a pal said last year, every single player is out to cheat at every possible opportunity from the moment they get on the pitch. If a player dives and the ref gives a penalty he hasn't, unless he's a "homer", got it wrong, the player has cheated - that is the problem.

Yes the referees do get a lot wrong, but why is a referee's mistake - say missing a foul for a penalty - worse than a player missing an open goal?

As the price, of tickets and TV costs, goes ever up the quality of the "product" goes down for me. By trying to make each game an occasion the Premier League has deadened the impact of the real occasions.

And the Premier League is probably the main thing that's done for me. The announcement of the £5 bullion - ha, I wrote "billion" but it auto-corrected to that - TV deal was astounding enough but it was the aftermath that really got me.

Chief exec Richard Scudamore's insistence that it's not down to the club's to pay their stadium staff a living wage just sums up that organisation.

He wasn't overheard making these remarks, which while not making it right might at least explain things. He said it explicitly in an interview on Radio 4's Today programme. As if to say, "yes? And?"

The sheer arrogance, the utter disdain for working - ie poor - people is staggering. The bottom club in the league when this new deal comes in will get a minimum of over £100,000,000 for the season. Pay people an extra two quid an hour - go nuts.

The usual argument gets offered up in mitigation about film stars and the staff who work low down in the film industry. There's no comparison with people making the choice of working at the bottom of an industry because they're paying their dues and hoping to crack it and someone who travels 90 minutes - each way - to work at a stadium on match day because that's her main income.

That last one was someone I knew when I worked at a football club from 2006 to 2009. The job was great, exhausting and horrible.  Compared to other support staff I wasn't on terrible money.

But even then I had to fight for a pay rise - there was no inflation rises - which involved a meeting with the chief exec who said he'd pay me the extra but warned there'd be no money for anyone else to have a pay rise. A classic management strategy, hoping I'd shit out and exit his office ringing my cap. I pointed out that we didn't have collective bargaining there and I took it. That upped my money from £23k to £26k. Big time.

The people working at clubs donate thousands in unpaid overtime over the course of a season and the clubs come to bank on it. "Can you just…" Eventually you have to decide if you want to keep doing it.

The club I worked at was alright, the players seemed a good bunch and my department was small but full of good, committed people, as was the whole club. They're all still there and I miss working with them at times, but then I remember the late nights, the headaches, the time I had to keep going in for two weeks while horribly sick and the time I kept taking other people's trolleys in the supermarket because I was exhausted. Then I don't miss it so much.

Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham and shadow sports minister, cut down some bonehead on Radio 5 in the week who said football is a business, pointing out it's not like any other business because you have your team for life.

There is simply no comparison with any other aspect of popular culture. What other "business" has people going week after week, year after year, paying good money - rising beyond any reasonable measure - in the hope - the hope! - that it might be any good?

That's what the clubs rely on - they've got you and you can't escape. Everton aren't as bad as a lot and they're better than others but they're part of the stinking hypocrisy that is the Premier League and I want out because, basically, it gives me nothing any more. (I'll watch the Uefa games like.)


  1. Best post I've read in a long time and sums up my feelings. Think I'll give up going the game once the new TV deal kicks in.

  2. I've been like that since Rooney left us for the pound and glory with the Mancs, I go the odd away game now just for the craic as the home games bore me to tears.
    I don't miss it at all id rather play golf now at the weekends

  3. Pretty much sums up how the majority feel, but the 'footy' is as addictive as sugar and alcohol, and can damage you just as much

  4. Nobody forces you to go to the game. Pick and chose when you go.But don't make it sound like you're a martyr to the cause,blaming mega bucks 'prize money' the clubs will soon get.

  5. stay at home with your bird and stbooiap, problem solved.

  6. Bedwetting shithouse

    1. Grow a pair, yer fucking cryasing ballbag,

    2. Wow, a really profound and well thought out counter point, well done sir.

  7. Non-league is you answer mate. I made the break three years ago and still loving my weekly match fix now. I go home and away everywhere with my new team. I get to stand where I want, mix with opposition supporters, drink a pint while I watch the match, eat some cracking home made grub at some grounds and shout at bad referees (yes they are even worse down here) and all for a fraction of the price of going to Premier League game.

    The players get to know you as an individual, rather than just another one of the fans and there is even plenty of opportunity to get involved in running the set up if you really want to commit.....and that's not just my club, the beauty is that the are literally hundreds of little clubs out there looking for your support and no matter where you live there will be someone nearby that needs it and what's more actually appreciates you too rather than taking your support for granted.

    I've met loads over the last couple of years who have made the switch, non-league is growing, quicker than its ever done and there are loads of friendly, passionate, interesting people out there to get to know.

    Don't get me wrong, it's not all roses, the refs as mentioned before are terrible, and the players still cheat like their role models in the professional game do and if the weather is bad you'll really feel it, if the game isn't called off that is......but all that seems to add to the rawness of the experience, it feels more real, more like the game you fell in love with as a hasn't lost its sparkle, it's just moved on to a new venue.