More than 2 decades ago I began The Homes of Football believing myself to have a mission in showing the changing face of football, after the recent Hillsborough tragedy and the subsequent Lord Justice Taylor Report. I believed I was in the right place at the right time to account for THE most interesting period of football-history since records began; a national institution in BIG trouble was, crucially, reinventing itself. And it was something I had a natural affinity for, so I set about recording it, showing the game old and new, intertwined, again and again and again so that it all felt connected.
I never deserted that lamp, but the mission slightly dimmed as the years rolled on…
Then 20 years later there came, rather than a token anniversary, a real sense of mission again, to start telling the story once more, this time as The Cradle of The Game. If the threat to professional football had before been about negligence, disquiet, falling attendances…the threat now would be expressed in financial & ownership issues; football’s popularity bubble (growing attendances across the board) had certainly not burst. My response as a photographer would be to show the values at the heart of the game, as well as you can do in photographs and a few words.
The Fans response meanwhile is to seize the day and seize the club: we won’t wait on a knight in shining armour to come save the club in the hour of need. It shouldn’t come to this. And It won’t again.
The ideal, quite achievable, is all clubs be owned with a majority share (51%) by the fans; private investment is welcome to make up the rest (49%). Why have clubs bearing the name of a town if it has little to do with it!
Ironically, as I write, we could all end up owning Liverpool FC after the bank that loaned it monies is itself bailed out by the nation!
This ‘Cradle’ book is about the amazing clutch of clubs we have in this country. All four home countries are given title deeds because they have each and all played a part in where we have got to. How could we ignore George Best. Or Celtic & Rangers and the stream of great Scottish managers south? Wales recently reinvigorated The FA Cup and The Play-Offs by staging these key matches in Cardiff, in a beautiful city centre, et cetera.
Of course the English Premier League is the single biggest driver in football anywhere in modern times and a source of great pride the World over; it is hard to see the PL star fading…but is it an English League? Historically: yes. It came to prominence quickly, yet one could claim it was decades in the making and owes its roots to the British football empire. The Premier League then is the Jerusalem of William Blake’s green & pleasant land…
Here’s to park football and to Non-League Football, to League Football, to Premier League Football which make up ‘the pyramid’ of leagues we have here in England and an achievement to rival anything in Egypt.
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