When People Didn't Care About Stats
Who remembers Statto from Fantasy Football League? That's him in the picture. The nerdy bloke who knew how many passes Wim Jonk had completed for Wednesday that season and was the butt of all the jokes? In those days, you weren't supposed to care about how many "take-ons" a player had made, or "key passes". You'd have been quite rightly laughed out of the pub for using a word like "Libero".
Nowadays, people want to be Statto. The internet is rife with bedwetters using terms like "False Four" to make themselves feel clever. Football has become chess club, it's time they all got a massive wedgie and put back in goal.
As soon as any bloke of a certain age reads the words 'Football Italia', it's compulsory to imitate the throaty roar of commentator Jose Altafini, "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLAAAAAAAAAZZZIIIOOOOOO!!!!" Apparently, as many a modern statto (see number 1) will point out, what he's actually saying is 'Golaço', a Portuguese term for a great goal. Weekend afternoons spent watching another skull-crushingly boring Fiorentina 0-0 just so you could see some of the Panini World Cup sticker book heroes in action.
Walking Through Residential Back Streets To Get To A Ground
No, it's not the name of an oft-overlooked early Radiohead b-side. It's just another thing we miss about modern-day football.
Particularly prevalent at the lower end of the Football League spectrum, where stadia are largely built with council funding to 'service the wider community' (read: stuck 6 miles from the town centre) and 'aid the local economy' (read: smack bang in the middle of a soulless, azoic retail park).
From Tesco to TGI Fridays, they have everything you could ever need! Except, of course, any pre-match atmosphere or traditional values whatsoever. But there IS an Ikea, so, you know. Swings and roundabouts.
The closest you'll come to the Nag's Head is Nandos. Looking for a bookies? Try Starbucks.
Deal with it. And while you're at it, rather than that each-way flutter in the 3.20 at Wetherby, you can spend your hard-earned on an Eggnog Wankaccino.
The Old Offside Rule
Granted, no one likes a goal hanger. But the current laws around offside are so confusing that, half the time, even the players and officials don't seem to understand what's expected of them.
Nope - long gone are the days when proper blokey blokes could display their masculinity by condescendingly giving hapless birds a quick overview of the offside rule using only the salt and pepper shakers down the local cafe.
Nowadays, this piece of legislation has been chopped and changed and skewed and bastardised to the point that poor old Garth Crooks has a nigh on seizure every time the law is brought into play.
Nowadays, the blokey bloke and the bird would need:
1) a salt and pepper shaker to represent the defender and attacker
2)a tomato sauce bottle for the Goalie
3) vinegar for the inactive, retreating attacker
4) brown sauce for the active, interfering forward in the Keeper's eyeline
5) a table clearly marked to represent the 'effective playing area'
6) hot French mustard to represent the inevitably furious manager complaining about the decision.
Basically, the whole contents of James Corden's sex drawer.
Back when I was a young lad, coining players who took throw-ins and corners was all a part of the Saturday afternoon experience. I remember having handfuls of change thrust into my palm to launch at whichever unlucky bastard had dared to walk near our end, cheers went up as the pennies rained down. Go on, fuck off back to wherever shithole town you came from. Controversial yes, but these were fond childhood memories. These days you so much frown at a player and they've hit the deck and you've been thrown out and banned. Let's all hold hands and be friends. Can we have silence as our guests take a corner please? Bring back the threat of an old style 50p piece to the head.
Being Able To Go Near The Keeper
It's a scenario we see time and time again on a modern football field, where goalkeepers are afforded a ridiculous amount of protection when coming to claim a ball into the box. The slightest hint of contact from an opponent and the free-kick is signalled then it’s back to the drawing board for the attacking team.
We’re not talking about elbows to the face or digs into his body once he’s already got hold of the ball but fair, 50/50 challenges which no self-respecting referee would have dreamed of blowing for 20 years ago.
These calls are often made by a referee simply so as to not spark controversy. A free-kick to the defending team is forgotten about within minutes, however were they to play on following a tough but fair challenge on the ‘keeper that saw the ball spilled and the subsequent chance rolled into the net the matter would be debated for days on end even though it was the correct decision.
Mystery Foreign Players
The internet and digital technology has revolutionised football. It allows scouts to compile vastly more detailed reports on potential transfer targets, gives casual fans all the online content they could possibly wish for. However there is a side-effect to all of this: the 'mystery' foreign player has been completely lost. Now you have to listen to the local pub bore tell you just how effective Liverpool target Yevhen Konoplyanka would be as an inverted winger cutting inside from a wide-forward position because he’s signed him a couple of times of Football Manager.
Do you think anyone was discussing Juninho’s form for Sao Paulo when he first signed for Middlesbrough? Did we have Youtube clips of Andrei Kanchelskis’ latest GOLAZOOO for Shakhtar Donetsk before he moved to Old Trafford? No, we didn’t. And in many ways, football was better for it. (That's Francesco Baiano in the photo by the way).