Don't Reach For The Sky

Beano Niblock rues the real demise of English soccer. Beano Niblock is a writer of poetry, plays and political commentary.

I suppose to those of us over a ... ahem ... certain age, the obscenity that is the EPL is disappointing and sad. I was speaking to a young co-worker earlier about today's Cup Final between Arsenal and Aston Villa. He asked would I be watching it and was a bit surprised when I told him, no, I had other things to do.

In latter years I surprise myself at my lack of interest in the modern day game, well, at least compared to the interest I used to have. I would struggle to tell you who contested last years Cup Final - without consulting the internet — but would have no problem telling you virtually my day's routine in May 1966 in the lead up to Everton v Sheffield Wednesday. Or the replayed Final of 1970 when Chelsea overcame the mighty Leeds at Old Trafford—that’s easy to recall, as I was in Manchester that night and watched it in a  TV shop window - minus sound - as I had “run away from home” the previous Monday and was conducting a mini-tour of the UK.

I feel there are many factors that contributed to the deadly malaise now inflicting the premier league. As someone has already mentioned, the Jimmy Hill factor, the Taylor Report, and probably most significantly, the selling of collective footballing souls to the grossly obscene Sky organisation. Thankfully he’s gone now, but has there been a more irritating presenter in recent years than that master of the hyperbole, Andy Gray? Or a more inane sidekick in Richard Keys?

Personally the overkill of the sport as applied by Sky drove me away as much as anything. Yes, the wages are mind boggling and obscene and the players consumed with greed. But can we blame them? A bricklayer or a welder would find it difficult to turn down the offer if someone was willing to pay them a grossly profane amount of money for the job they perform. Until wages and transfer caps are put in place to try and arrest the slide the situation is likely to get much worse.

A truly sad consequence of the gargantuan growth of the EPL is the demise of the rest of the Football League. To see teams who were once considered giants of the game, or who had long and proud histories, languish in the lower divisions and struggle to survive in many cases is pitiful to the true football supporter.

To me, with my old fashioned football ideals, I should be relishing the Final clash of those stalwarts of the game — The Gunners and The Villains. Sadly though — and despite Arsenal playing the type of football that has the aficionados drooling — we are reminded of a club who have the highest season ticket prices: at £2013 per season, hardly community minded there. Or on the other hand a team packed with journeymen players who demand wages in excess of £30,000 a week. I think I’ll get my old Topical Times annuals out of the loft and gaze wistfully at the shiny photographs of Charlie Cooke or Geoff Strong ..... who said nostalgia was a thing of the past?


  1. As always Beano, a good human interest read. 3-2 to Everton too after being down 2-0 to Wednesday. The players are greed driven, that is for sure. The fan is bing robbed blind to pay their exorbitant wages. But as they say, when you rob Peter to pay Paul you are always guaranteed the support of Paul.

  2. Watched the second half with my son. As we sat down to watch the first I got a call from a friend from the blocks who said he was in town and would drop in. Could hardly say no.! It was great to see him. But the game was so one sided I wish he had have stayed longer. Villa just didn't run up and seem determined to get Paul Lambert back! Such a sorry lot. Should have taken your advice Beano but I sort of enjoy watching them with my son otherwise the television would simply stay off. Earlier I was half tempted to take him to the pub with me to watch it - glad I didn't. May as well be bored silly at home for free than pay to do it in the bar

  3. Another enjoyable read from Beano. Villa wuz wobbed. Two stonewall penalties denied and with them went their only chance of a shot on target in the entire game. Somehow a 5.30 KO just doesn't help the lack atmosphere. The interest is as high as my interest in snooker these days and I've not watched that since the 1980s.

  4. Larry,

    they were robbed of a definite free kick and a possible penalty although I thought they had crossed the line by the time the shoulder had got around the neck sufficiently to award a penalty. Villa was Bobby Sands' team. The only one I remember from the blocks who supported. There were a few like that - Marty Kavanagh followed WBA and Jimmy Burns Huddersfield.