Friday, November 7, 2008

Every fan has their day – RedGiant

Is it possible to use the phrase ‘when I was a lad’ and not sound like a crotchety old man? As a kid it was a guaranteed toe-curler of a line, largely because it was followed by yet another anecdote about how things were better in the good old days: ‘… footballers were lucky if they got twenty pounds a week, and they were grateful if they got that’.

Worryingly, I’m using similar phrases with alarming regularity. All too often I find myself starting a sentence with ‘remember the season when …’, or, ‘you’ll never get another player like …’. Sometimes it can simply be a name that elicits a sentimental yearning for the comfort and warmth of a former time or place. Johnny Metgod. Neil Webb. Stuart Pearce. Jason Lee. Andrea Silenzi.

Ok, there was a hint of irony about the last two, but that’s the beauty of nostalgia, it’s entirely subjective. Someone, somewhere, might genuinely think that Silenzi was a good player; there might be a faded picture of him lending beauty to a trattoria’s wall, in Turin, say. It applies to most sports fans, mention the name of their favourite player from yesteryear and watch them go all gooey eyed and weak at the knees.

It’s big business too, this nostalgia malarkey. Take a look at Graham Budd Auctions, they sold a collection of John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanacks from the first year of issue (1864) for £120,000. A single-sheet 1889 FA Cup Final programme recently went for £19,000 too. You could take a trip to the National Football Museum in Preston if you wanted to, the President of which (Sir Bobby Charlton) once described it as ‘the best museum in the world … apart from the Tate’.

Some people think it’s dangerous to be so pre-occupied with the past, though. Joe Kinnear certainly thought so after joining Notts Forest: ‘Ever since I’ve been at this club I’ve had the history rammed down my throat, I see they don’t have any pictures of the relegation teams’. Nice way to ingratiate yourself with the fans, Joe.

Not for the first time, I’m inclined to disagree with Kinnear. They say that every dog has its day. Well, every football fan has their day, too. In a footballing world dominated by WAGs, galacticos and oligarchs, nostalgia is part of what keeps us humble fans going. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

6 comments:

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Excellent points RedGiant.

It gets worse when you keep seeing your dead father's face in the shaving mirror, but not your own of thirty years ago.

mac millings said...

Nice work, RedGiant.

Bummer, mouth.

Red Giant said...

Ouch! I've not quite reached that stage just yet, mouth.

Thanks to you both, I've just read your pieces and really enjoyed them. Good to read something about Robbo too, he's officially the best player in Forest's history (according to a fan poll), and, as Clough once said, the Picasso of our game!

Ebren said...

I think we have every right to feel nostalgic about Jason Lee. "Back in my day, footballers played with pineapples on their head - none of your fancy-dan kumquats."

offsideintahiti said...

"footballers with pineapples on their head" sounds like the Tahitian league allright.

Good stuff, RedGiant, thanks for that.

Mouth, can you post your pieces here, please?

MotM said...

Offie - You've almost certainly seen them before as I re-worked - http://pseudscorner.blogspot.com/2008/08/best-of-british-john-robertson-and.html and http://pseudscorner.blogspot.com/2007/03/in-good-time-mouthofthemersey.html for the comp.

I've written a new one for this week which won't make guardian.co.uk's short list, so will be here soon.

Tweet it, digg it