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From working class to business class

November 7th, 2005 by · No Comments · De Bunker, Football

Alright, WCO admit it?s not on the scale of, say Newton and apples, but for WCO it was significant. So over a bun and a cup of tea, we gathered round the single bar electric fire and got to thinking, What?s so different from 1966?

So with our MSc in Cod Social Sciences from the West Virginian University purchased for a bargain $20 from the Internet, we present the WCO thesis. We?re attracted to the simple idea of West Ham, ah yes, The Academy [which, with any inner city failing school now being called an Academy, seems suddenly appropriate]. Apparently, it was West Ham wot won it in ?66, Moore, Hurst, Peters?fond memories [for our dad?s of course].

We got to thinking about the current batch of Academy graduates: Ferdinand, Defoe, Cole, Lampard and those on the edges of the squad, Carrick and Johnson. Good players all, but they lack that elusive something. Class.

Ferdinand can?t seem to remember his name, or a drug test, but can sure as shit remember that his contract is close to renewal. Despite not playing for 9 months he displays no shame when asking for ?120K per week. Defoe walks out on Charlton because he thinks West Ham will suit him better and then does the same to West Ham for Tottenham. Lampard is probably the most honest and that has been instilled by his dad, who was in the team that followed the greats mentioned above. Johnson barely breaks a sweat and is apparently worth ?6 million. Carrick, with a degree from the Ray [the crab] Wilkins School of Passing, joins our Jermaine as soon as is decent. Cole is happy to rotate with Robben, Duff and Wright-Phillips and collect his wad.

?6million for Johnson, Bobby Moore dies doing bit parts for TalkSport. There it is in a nutmeg.

So is football so different now? Pick up any newspaper today and read the hysteria on the imminent death of football with tales of fans being exploited, prices too high, too many games, and so on. Fans, and we speak from personal experience, are a bunch of moaners. We moan about football being part of the entertainment industry, we moaned about the crumbling terraces and the stinking toilets. We moan about overpaid players, we?d have them in our team if we could afford it. Manchester United fans called for St. Fergies head just as vocally as they protest against SoccerGuy. We moan about kick-off times and too much football, but who are those 7 million that pay their Sky subs every month?

What can?t be argued with is that the influence of Sky, UEFA and Russian oil money has changed football forever, nor that it has changed footballers. The elite are celebrities first and footballers second. It could be argued that it?s still a working class game at heart. Most players still tend to come from the groups of the less academically gifted. Whether that is a consequence of, or a reason for, obsession with football is best left to the sociologists. Either way the road to neuveaux riches is paved with plasterers who so nearly made it. Potential millionaires to mingers in one season.

So you may still have a largely uneducated football workforce, but they do know how to look after Number 1. The class of 66, though, were working class and knew it. Yes, they were well paid in comparison to their mates, but they were cut from the same stone as the fans. They were post-war kids with wartime parents. Loyalty, teamwork and respect, the very values that got them through a war, were a characteristic of the game from 1939 onwards and arguably remained so until the 60?s.

That connection between the pitch and the terrace, the community and the team, no longer exists. Your average ex-West Ham footballer is now paid the thick end of ?4million quid a year, buys sports cars for fun and only has one team to worry about. Team Me. It?s really no surprise that we have an FA and an England manager who are just perfect to lead Team Me.

For the fans with memories that stretch to when there were 4 league divisions that were simply numbered 1 to 4, it?s the selfish streak that runs through the game that is hardest to forgive. Big clubs piss on small clubs, players care only for their next contract.

The only real difference is that where chairman kept the players in their place with the minimum wage, fans wore flat caps, waved white hankies at TV cameras and smoked a lot, today it?s the best players who hold all the cards. And boy don?t they know it.

Football has always been able to rely on an addicted group of punters who will put up with almost anything, and I even question the ?almost?. Whether it was walking straight from the Saturday factory or dock shift to a game or travelling from Portsmouth to Sunderland for a midday kick-off to fulfil Sky?s contractual obligations we just keep on taking it. Through all these changes, that have suited the providers but not the consumers, the fans have never changed, still Junkies for the game and for their team.

The question is, for how much longer? And don?t ever buy that line that gate receipts are irrelevant now that sponsorship and subscriptions provide so much income. As soon as they see empty seats and viewing numbers falling they will dump the game and pursue another ?sexy? opportunity. You might consider them bloodsuckers but they only do their job, and there-in lies the difference. Everyone is just doing their job, players, agents, sponsors, governing bodies. The only ones who CARE are the fans, and the only fans who REALLY CARE are the ones being forced out of their own grounds by the dilettantes who might just be spending their money on watching cricket next year.

For legal purposes players named in this article work very hard for their clubs and are model professionals and a fine example to children up and down the country. We admire them and would never dream of saying anything vaguely libellous about??


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