Footballers and Money: why can’t they score goals when they earn so much of it?

My daughter went to her first football match this Boxing Day. She is in her late 20’s and despite being brought up in a city (Birmingham) where in every direction you look there is a relatively well known club (West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Birmingham City) we have never taken her to a match. One of the reasons was that during the 80’s and 90’s football lost its way. It became more about money, the stars and Manchester United. And because it was about money it also became too expensive to go to see a match.

My first match was in 1968. I went to see the Baggies at the Hawthorns (which was at one time the highest ground above sea level in the county, which is probably why West Bromwich always has a chill factor of minus 3). I was 9 and our summer au pair (local teenage girl hired to keep us occupied) took me and my cousin to the first match of the season after they had won the FA cup. I then went on and off for a few years with my male cousins, as  in the 60’s and 70’s, local people supported local clubs not just the ones who won every trophy. In 1975 I was dating the captain of the Halesowen College football team, who was also a Baggies fan, and consequently spent most Saturday afternoons with him and the rest of the team, on the terraces, drinking Bovril and eating pies.

For footie fans the Boxing Day match is pretty much of a tradition, possibly established originally for men to escape the sales fever and the family for a day. What swung this first visit to a football match for the daughter was that it involved dinner in an executive box as opposed to being freezing cold, drinking  Bovril and eating pies on the terraces. Her partner is a Villa fan, and his friend works/owns a company who has this box to entertain clients, so on Boxing Day (which is a holiday in the UK) the box was available for him to entertain his friends. I’m slightly disappointed that her first match was at the Villa, but hey even I dated a Villa fan, once. I ended up marrying a Leeds fan, although the last match he went to was back in 1985.

My son hated football. And, because of this got bullied at school. Which made him hate it even more. His peers were obsessed with having the latest, overpriced Man United shirt, and many I suspect had soccer moms and dads who were known for kicking off on the sidelines.  He also became a PE lesson refuser as the only thing they ever did was play football at his secondary school. Tennis courts were used for 5 a side, the athletic stadium only used on sports day, with hurried lessons in shot put and the long jump for a couple of weeks in the hope that they may get one student they could trust to throw a javelin without killing someone from a rival gang.

Despite the wonderful recent success of Team GB at the London Olympics, I do wonder how much better we could have done and how many more British contenders for Wimbledon we’d have if sport was seen as important on the curriculum as IT. One head teacher, John Tomsett  who I admire, blogged about how he actively encourages competitive sport at his school. This is within a house system, not against other schools and I think this is a model that needs to be encouraged. I’m not very sporty, yet because of the house system I could participate and enjoy sport to the best level I could achieve. Not left on the bench because I wasn’t good enough to win a match against every other school in the borough. And my school produced an Olympic swimmer because of this.

In the days when footballers didn’t earn silly money they were still, almost, one of us. Yes, there were the exceptions to this, like Georgie Best, who lived life in the fast lane (and look what happened to him, poor man) but it was nothing compared to the Beckhams, who are treated like minor royalty. I’m not saying Beckham isn’t a good role model, because he is, apart from the ‘be a footballer and you’ll be rich like me’ stuff and that their 11 year son is a model.

To get things into perspective, money and fame wise, Jeff Astle, when he retired from football established a window cleaning company. Post match curry in Wolverhampton and Derek Statham was sat at the next table. It wasn’t “ooo I must get his autograph” in so much as “great match today Derek” and we got on with our curry. And once I saw Robert Plant get off a bus outside the Hawthorns for a local derby with the team he supported, Wolverhampton Wanders. At the same match was Eric Clapton and Annie Nightingale, I know this as she mentioned it the next day on her Sunday afternoon national radio show. Eric even has a West Brom scarf strewn across a chair on the album, Backless.

So I’m nostalgic for the football of the 70’s and extremely pleased that three West Bromwich Albion footballers, Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson who inspired a generation of black professional players in the UK are to be honoured with a statue. And if pushed, despite not having gone to match for many years, I would say I’m a Baggies fan. I can’t name a player, but they are my local team. I’ve been to the ground quite a few times for conferences and I still get a thrill seeing the pitch.

And the fashion in supporting famous teams continues in that David Cameron and Prince William are Villa supporters. At the time that they made this decision the team was doing well and perhaps this gave them the common touch, that the working class could identify with, not as glitzy as Manchester United and of course Beckham went to The Wedding!

Football teams and players are just another commodity for increasingly overseas investors who you don’t normally associate with footie. One of the weirdest things was to see a Leicester City souvenir shop in Bangkok Airport. Again, back in the day it was a pop stars whim to to buy a football club as did Elton John, not as an investment, but because they needed the money and it was the team he supported. Now we have players earning more a week than most of their fans earn a year, yet they still can’t score a goal. Unless of course you happen to be a team playing the Villa recently. It seems get 8 goals past their defence is pretty easy at the moment.

So how are the Baggies doing this season? Not to rub it in, of course.

A totally locally Christmas

So it’s over. That was Christmas and I think it was a good one. Just the four of us yet for some reason I thought it necessary to cook beef, turkey and a goose. As ever Queen Delia rescued me, as her Christmas book covers all three, and with two ovens and a lot of juggling and a microwave that also functions as a convection oven I got there. Of course, it’s so much easier if you have men to cook the meat on a Weber, as per last year in Melbourne.

A few years back when I had a stressful, busy, corporate life I bought all the Christmas food from Marks and Spencer, all pre prepared. Then Aldi came into my life. I now have palpitations at the prices in any of the big supermarket chains. I need to say it now, it costs so much less and I do not compromise on quality.

The turkey and the goose were free range and English. The beef was British. All the veg was from the UK too. I made pickled red cabbage and bread sauce, glazed carrots, sprouts with pancetta and without and everything was bought on my local high street. And no petrol was used to procure these items. So I reckon it’s not just been a locally bought Christmas but a green one too. We did wheel the supermarket trolley home, as that was easier than dragging heavy bags. What we need is a Melbourne Market Jeep.

We all agree to buy presents from lists, so we get what we really want and need, instead of piles of tat that clutters our lives. This means we don’t get into debt by falling into the Christmas trap of spending for spending sake. I bought three hampers of homemade goodies from Maidens Fayre, again most ingredients were locally sourced and I’m supporting a local mumpreneur. We still get little surprises, such as keyring torches courtesy of corporate rebranding, Hobbit Related goodies from our lovely friends in New Zealand and a beautiful china tea set from a new friend who I met though the Four Week Shopping Locally Challenge. And this years Christmas crackers were cracking!

So despite my brother related meltdown moment on Christmas Eve, I’m pretty sure that my nearest and dearest had a good day. All rounded off with Dr Who.

Oh, and I got twitter earrings!










Sound advice.

Honey Lucas blog

Facebook hand cut outs by GOIABA on Flickr.comAs a rough and ready measurement, the Facebook Like is quite handy. But just like someone who once signed up for your email newsletter, but who never now reads it, the Like doesn’t necessarily represent a person who is actively engaged with your content. If you want to increase the impact your FB page is having on people’s behaviour then read these tips for leaving the Likes behind and concentrating instead on engagement.

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The one item of clothing I lugged around the world that I do not regret taking was my trusty kagool or kag in a bag. It was well used in New Zealand when we went on a wine tasting tour on Waiheke.  And whilst cyclone dodging in Fiji. We certainly got very wet on Kangaroo Island.

And here is the proof from the FCO that we were considered at risk in Fiji.

> To: coral
> Subject: Tropical Depression affecting Fiji
> Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 23:51:20 +0000
> Dear British Citizens,
> A severe flood warning remains in force for major rivers, streams and low lying areas of Western Viti Levu This has caused major flooding and has closed roads paticularly in Nadi Town and left both locals and tourists stranded.
> Should you wish to seek urgent consular assistance or know…

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