Football has been taken away from us

Posted by Tarpaulin on September 20, 2005, 06:07:03 PM

We got to our gate, my dad handed the tickets/cash over, and lifted me up, and through the turnstiles we went. As we walked towards the entrance I could hear the singing a bit more clearly now, It was a little bit louder, and sounded like it did when it was on the Radio. We walked out of the entrance and just as the light hit my face, and as I could just see the edges of the green Anfield turf, I remember my dad turning round to look at me with a BIG smile on his face. I don’t know whether it was pride, or love, or just a thought of "this is what I felt like when my dad took me too, son".

We were now inside the ground, and the smell seemed different, the pitch looked lush and green the stands – with their different colour seats – looked huge, and right in front of me where my heroes, there was Hansen, there was Grobbelaar, there was Lawrensen, where was he…where was my favourite…."there he is son, down there near the side". There was Ian Rush, my hero, stood signing autographs for fans in the Main Stand. I felt the tingle down my spine, and the hairs on my neck stand up. This was my baptism, and these players and this ground where my religion, I was now a fully fledged Red.”

I’ve written this on here before, it’s my first game at Anfield – and to a degree pretty much what most of my entrances to the stadium were like up until recent years. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve done it, and it’s easy to understand for those who have been under its spell. It's awe inspiring. It's home. It's Anfield.

But those days seem long gone to me at the moment. Football is a shadow of its former self, it’s a sanitised version of events these days. With players going through motions or being told what to say or do. They have no heart, no soul and they couldn’t be any further away from the people on the terraces who look upto them. Its saddening, to the point where it really is worth asking, is it really all worth it?

I know its not just me, and id be interested to hear from long standing Reds on how they feel about it all….Id imagine the fellas from the 70’s and 80’s and further back are devastated with the way the game is now? It’s such a distant memory the days when the players played for you, and were on the whole pretty much just ordinary fellas. Yeah, the fans were cattled like shite, but that was all part of it….you got on with it and the group mentality and being with the ‘box of toys’ got you through it. All Reds together for one cause, no surrender, no ones left behind….a siege mentality. It’s all gone, dust, disappeared for ever.

The days of when the 40 odd thousand [or more] in Anfield where the ones in the know, not every noddy on the street watching the mighty Reds on Canal Plus and having something to say. Fuckin pisses me off….and yeah, I don’t fully accept your views…why? Cos you weren’t there. That simple. How can someone who is watching TV, and highlights on the TV be even close to someone watching Live from the ground. Seeing the ‘off the ball’ runs that TV just doesn’t show, the off the ball niggles and incidents, the sounds and sights from around you and the ground, the feeling of what’s going on [yer know when you just know!] I crave the days when football falls on its fuckin face and implodes. The money dries up and the half arsed fans are drawn away to the next fashion craze. Give me my fuckin game and my club back.

The internet is one of the biggest problems with the modern game as well. All these numpties watching games live on blag foreign channels, or even worse a few minutes on Match of the Day [or even Skys football first] now have an arena to openly spout their shite. Gone are the days when it was…..seen in the ground, read in the echo and discussed in the boozer. You were intimidated to openly rag the club in front of mates [or even worse – people you didn’t know] that made you think about your thoughts, and question why you thought them. More often than not, resolving any issues in yer own head before you made a total tit of yerself in front of the lads. And who ever decided phone ins would be good was a total melt…’s a breeding ground for blerts and beauts!

Games moved to stupid o’clock….don’t get me started on them….fuckin 12pm on New Years day? 2pm, 4pm, 5pm, 8pm…what’s goin on? Give us the chance to watch the lads on Saturday, have a couple of bevs, slide home for a quick “S-S-S” and then out to town with the lads, or yer tart….what’s it all about when you are travelling the length of the country for a Monday night 8pm kick off, only to get home at 2/3 or even 4am in the morning?

As someone said to me today [and I have to agree]…..
I stood on the Kop on Sunday. I held a hand of five fingers above my head and sang "In Istanbul, we won it five times" as the music to YNWA began I lifted my scarf above my head determined that not a whisper would be heard from the Manc end I belted it out at the top of my voice. I suddenly got a rush of adrenalin, my heart began beating and I felt a bit choked as memories of Istanbul came back & I knew again what it was to support LFC. I was relieved that a feeling I had struggled to locate found me again.

Ten minutes later it had gone. Two hours later and I was listening to music in the car rather than the post game analysis. Two days later & I really don't care - no piss taking of the bitters today, can't be arsed. No laughing at the Mancs missing captain Keano for the next two months ofter a crunching tackle from erm Luis Garcia. Nothing.

There's a void. There's a gap. There's a vacuum.

I mean, what’s that all about? Man U at home – 2nd biggest game of the season [yes, the fuckin Blue shite still are, and probably always will be numero uno] and we don’t give a flying fuck.

There's an element of post Istanbul apathy - I can't really take any of these games seriously enough at the moment as I don't really give a fuck. I can’t get motivated for them. And judging by Sundays atmosphere, both during and after the game, id say there’s loads like me.

I’ve got a horrible feeling if football doesn’t implode soon that lads will just fuck it off. There’s already stuff circulating in the press this season about the decline in season ticket sales, and attendances being down by about 5-10% already. Prices have gone up [yet again] and quality has gone down I feel – across the board in the top flight in most leagues in the world.

Where’s the originality on the terraces, and the banter between the home and away fans. Its not just us, its everyone….I think everyone’s being dragged down by the way football is at the moment. Home and away atmospheres are getting worse and worse.

At home, there’s the old annoyances, that have been dragging on for seasons such as the Liverworld day trippers and the jester hated beauts all dotted around singing “stand up if you hate……” and other such lower league shite that has no home on the terraces of Anfield.

Fans have no power whatsoever. In fact they are even now softening up to the bullshit the clubs are feeding them. If I don’t get what I want, ill write a little letter or an email. I dread to think what people would do if some of the conditions of the old standing Kop where in place today? Can’t take yer dolly bird the game? So yr can have her on yer arm to look good while she’s shouting “Shoot it to Gerrard – come on Steven love”. We expect to be molly-coddled at games. There’s no longer a case of “There’s yer fuckin team, support them and shut up”….its now “well, I’m not gonna sing and shout cos I want them to entertain me first”, or “I don’t wanna look or sound daft” or “Naaah, I wont learn the words cos I wont be back for a while anyway”. What’s goin on?

People used to come on the Kop to be in awe, to learn and be part of it…now it’s like it’s the other way round. Their stale bullshit has rubbed off on everyone else. I mean people arriving 5-10 ins late, then sliding to the bar for a hotdog with 35-40 mins gone, and then leaving the game with 80 minutes gone to get back to the car…..what the fuckin ells that?

I’ve written this before….but I feel this sums up what the players are like.

I appreciate that things move on in life, and although certain areas of the game have improved for the fans benefit – I think the majority of things haven't.

We now have great pitches [usually] to enable the players to perform to their best, and produce wonderful football. They are trained so thoroughly that tiredness seems to no longer be an issue in the game, and diet and sports science has helped benefit the fans with a full 90 minutes of "all out" football.

But then we have the problems of money and over exposure. These have bred players who want to be front page stars rather than back page heroes. They want to reach the millions around the globe rather than the people closer to home in their city. This has bred arrogance.

Money is the root to many modern day problems, of which I don't need to bore you with repetitive reminders. The control has shifted from manager and club, to player and agent. The fans in the ground matter less than the fans watching on the TV [or so it seems], and those who dedicate time, effort and money week in week out, matter less than those who come less frequently and spend big bucks in the stores that are rigged out from top to bottom with mostly useless merchandise that clutters your house and makes you look like some sort of American "sports nut" who shouts "Go team Go".

Now days, I don't support the players, I support the team. The players on the pitch mean nothing to me personally. I have no connection with them whatsoever. The only players who have come close in the last decade are Fowler, Gerrard [pre the shit last summer] and Carragher.

I am sick of feeling empty and annoyed when they run off the pitch after a defeat to get into their Porsche and get home to the blond darlin' and a slap up meal with 'friends' in some swanky bistro, and then onto a contemporary club to sip Don Perignon '63. They can't even be bothered to face the fans who have spent a vast majority of their weekly wage to see them play in that Red shirt.

I am fed up with the players not being proud to be 'one of us', and look the fans in the eye and give honest answers without the need to consult Ted McMoney the newest agent in town who can get yer an extra £10k a week "if you just say this and do that".

I want my players to feel like we do. I wanna hear just one person say "I’d fuckin' die to win the league here" or "Money? Why should I be arsed. I love this club and I'm on £60k a week anyway, when most people would 'ave to work 4 or 5 years to earn that". I wanna see them almost in tears when they are celebrating a goal that means so much to the club and its fans [a la Aldridge and McMahon in the derby years ago going mad almost punching each other with pride and delight] I wanna see players just touch the "This is Anfield" sign, even if they are told by powers above that they 'have to', but better still if they choose to, and know why they do it.

I want to feel like the players deserve that shirt and the history and heritage that pulling on that jersey means. I want players to know why we have the Shankly Gates, the Hillsborough Memorial and the Liverbird. All the things that players in times gone by would have taken as 'part of your job to know and do'.

If some of the things that have happened in our past – both good and bad – have happened these days I doubt very much the link and bonding between fans and players would have be created now, that was formed back then.

The gap between "us and them" is bigger now than it has ever been. You'd think I was talking about Man United or Arsenal saying that, but I'm talking about us and the players we pay so much to watch.

I'm disillusioned with it all. It's got fuck all to do with the last week's events – I'm used to this sort of shit now as a Red. It's the build up over the last few years of feeling like I'm putting all the effort in, and getting nothing back. I may spend 20-30 hours making a flag for a player, only to take it to the game, shout their name to show them how much it means to us and see them look at the flag directly and look away. No wave, no smile, no nod, no shout, no thanks. Nothing. Why fuckin' bother?

I may spend hours searching for transport and hotels on the net, spend vast amounts of money to get there. Take time off work to do it. Spend money while I'm away – whilst losing money whilst being just being there – and then view 11 players who don't care about the people on the terraces, and most that don't care about the club. For those days, it becomes my life, and yet the players are just picking up another £60k, going through the motions and running off the pitch back to the luxury lifestyles and sheltered lives. Why bother?

God only knows how the kids younger than us must feel. I am fully aware that to the players, walking out of the ground and seeing hundred of kids is nothing new. It's week in, week out for them, and it would be hard to sign for them all [and obviously harder once word got out to say they did]. But the odd one or two wouldn’t go a miss, and just a smile and the words "Thanks" every so often?

Some people will probably say "well they can’t please everyone" - and that is a fair point. But I would hope that those players know how much 2 seconds of their time with one kid means to that kid and those who were there. It's hope, it’s even inspiring. Yet, they don’t seem to care.

Maybe the players get that mentality cos they join clubs at ages from 8-12+ and they themselves don’t have the heroes and things we worship cos they don’t get the chance?

It's like in years gone by, players used to sign the odd autograph during a warm up, or before or after. Nowadays they don’t even look over. The first game I took the Carra flag, we stood in the ground from 7:15 at an 8:00 kick off. I’m a 25 year old lad, and I felt a bit of a tit, but it was important to me, and I thought Carra would absolutely love it [cos he doesn’t get too much praise]

I know the club [these days] probably doesn’t allow them to sign etc but I just wanted a nod, or a smile, anything to say 'thanks, I appreciate that' but got nothing. It got to the point where one of the lads with me shouted "Oi Jamie.....CARRA!!! get on this" and he just looked over, and looked away. We were gutted.

I still think Carra is head and shoulders above anyone else at LFC or anyone who has been there in recent years, but even he seems very un-arsed about it all. I later found out that he did see it, and was chuffed with it [but at the time I was gutted - and it would only have took a wave or whatever]

Some might say I just expect too much. But I just tend to think what I would give to be in their situation, and what I would do if I was there - and although I appreciate over time that the repetitiveness could annoy me, I would still make sure just a small amount of my time was given.

I mean I work 35 hours a week [minimum] for fuckin buttons, and every day I take about 60-80 phone calls, most of them are people giving me grief, or who are not arsed that I am trying to help them. Yet I know I have to do it, because I get paid to do it. Why the fuck don’t they?

I’m not even going to cover the ticket distribution at LFC and the lack of promoting the club to local kids. It just doesn’t exist. They don’t care.

I just dunno what is at the end of this very dark tunnel. Football doesn’t seem to exist anymore - it’s now a corporate game where all that matters is money, at every single level.

It’s horrible, it’s sad, and it’s upsetting ... but it’s happening.

Football's been taken away.

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