The Root Of All Evil
The story of David and Goliath, a classic story of the underdog against the giant. It can be seen in so many different things in life, but none more so than in English football.
But where does the underdog spirit come from?
For me, it comes from the one place where a football result is down to who wants it more on the pitch, rather than who`s oligarch owner has the most money. That is where football began so many years ago. On the terraces of grass roots football.
Our dearest Southampton was once part of the old days of real football. The Dell would be filled to the brim with thousands of passionate fans, whilst we survived in the premier league with last day heroics. It was the stuff that dreams were made of and we enjoyed every single moment.
St Mary`s is still filled with the chorus of the Northam, but Southampton is a new club. A club now, where things are controlled by money and big business. Gone are the days where we felt it was run by the passion of the fans.
Step forward the curse that is commercialisation.
Grass roots football is still arguably one of the few places where true football still exists. This was certainly the case when I watched with the utmost glee, as Havant and Waterlooville went ahead twice at Anfield against the corporate machine of Liverpool football club.
It was a group of 11 part time builders and plumbers against the millionaire giants, and the giants were almost put to the sword. That is what assured me that football is still alive, and it`s on the terraces of the smaller clubs that this old school football feeling remains.
Last season I went to many away matches to follow my team. From Tranmere to MK Dons it didn't matter. Even in the third division it is clear that commercialisation has started taking a firm grip.
Being on the terraces at Brentford was a proud moment, a fantastic atmosphere, and a real trip back to the old days. not that I go back that far.I am unfortunately too young to have been at the Dell in those old days where rivals stood side by side.
But, I would like to think I understand what true football is. The underdog fighting against the big club and giving them a run for they`re money. Determination beating the million pound 'superstars` often enough to keep the dream alive.
But I also visited the infamous franchise, Milton Keynes Dons at their plush stadium. This world class stadium where the seats are comfortable, and with the feel more Air Dubai than Ryanair, simply left me cold.
So why then, was I not impressed by the regal nature of such a place?
To put it bluntly it represented the new face of football, and it`s an ugly face. Some of their own supporters were sporting Arsenal and Chelsea shirts.
I can only imagine what would happen if someone wore a United shirt in the Northam end Or worse, the Dell!
As the Saints away support sang they`re hearts out it was met with a deafening silence from the dons home support. This was such a change to the vibrant atmosphere that we faced at the terrace grounds.
I have friends who used to support them when they were at Plough lane. They were never noisy but the terraces were always vibrant. 6 years ago when MK don`s were formed as a franchise, alarm bells should have been ringing about the new face of our proud sport.
The grass roots is slowly being eroded as the corporate revolution strikes through our sport. Notts County were bought and quickly sold by Munto Finance, a Dubai based corporate machine.
Hundreds of years worth of history at clubs like Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool and Crystal Palace. All now have been hit by the problem that is corporate finance. More and more clubs are being bought by faceless millionaires and oil tycoons who all want to make a quick buck.
What do these billionaires know about our clubs history? Of the many new owners how many know any thing about the club that they have bought?
Roman Abramovich, the Glaziers, Hicks and Gillett, even our very own Markus Liebherr. How long will it be before they say enough is enough?
Some of the biggest clubs in the land now owe ridiculous amounts of money. Manchester United alone, pays enough in interest rates to keep most of the 4th tier of English football alive.
The new corporate revolution has created a new type of supporter as well. Step forward the glory hunters. I know people who claim to love Manchester United, and yet they live 500 miles away from the club they so dearly love.
Why do they support them I ask? The majority of these glory hunters say that United are 'class`, therefore they support them. Pathetic.
The majority have never even set foot inside Manchester or West London. Then when I ask them why they don`t consider supporting their local team, they look at me as if I`ve just called them every insult under the sun.
I believe that TV money has done a lot to harm our game. It has taken football away from the terraces and into the living room.
Perhaps because of this they will never understand the passion a true fan has for their club. It matters not whether they are in the Barclays premier, or the Isthmian premier.
Grass roots is our life blood, the center of real football. The beginning of pride and passion starts as early as at school. When in the playground kids play out the roles of our heroes.
The big 4 and the oligarchs represent the weed that will kill grass roots football. Clubs will simply fold as they fail to compete within their budgets. Those left will have to adapt from historic British traditions of chanting out loud on the terraces. They will turn into soulless pits of silence with the occasional sound of applause.
Just remember what we once were as a football team. Stop and know that Portsmouth, Chester, Palace, and Southend are merely the starting point of the domino effect that we have got ourselves into. All of this due to our demand for more and more instant success.
Clubs like Southend who cling onto their spiritual homes and refuse to sell their identity to a cap wearing media man. Those are the clubs that deserve the real respect.
These clubs deserve far more than they get from the authorities, but only when they hit trouble do they hear anything from them.
Clubs like Salisbury that with just a little help would survive happily within their little terraced home.
Chester have gone. Palce look as though they have reached safety. Portsmouth are still struggling. All of these clubs could have survived and much easier with less big money madness and more evenly distributed wealth.
There it is then.The third and final article on the life and death of football. Has Goliath won? Is there still time to turn the tide and share our wealth more evenly? Can terraces still survive?
That is down for you to decide.
'Red Army Comrade'