Monday, September 7, 2009

So far in this series we’ve looked at a number of things that have disappeared from your average Saturday afternoon day out at the football. Some you’ll remember yourselves, some you could possibly relate to and some that you’ll have had no idea what I’ve been going on about!

Today though it’s something we all went through, just maybe not at the football - childhood! Or more specifically the perks that used to go with being a kid attending the football.

(8) Childhood Perks:

Getting children hooked on going to the football was a lot easier in days gone by. There wasn’t the saturation of TV coverage featuring top quality football and big names from the comfort of your bedroom. For many kids, the Saturday night highlights were way past your bedtime, so if you wanted to see some football action, it had to be in person - the way it should be.

I didn’t need asking twice to go along to a game and although in the early years it was just to Glenrothes Juniors with my granddad, it still seemed special to me.

Nowadays, if you can even interest your child in coming along to watch the Fife, or whatever your team may be, the cost in itself at many clubs is the biggest obstacle and if you have more than one child to bring, then remortgaging your house for the season is always an option.

It wasn’t always this way of course. When you ask people what things they don’t see at the football any more, lots of them say the same thing. You just don’t see kids being lifted over the turnstiles the way you used to.

There are many reasons for this of course. First of all there is the clubs wanting to make money from everyone in attendance. There’s the whole “kids should be let in free anyway” argument, but that’s for another day. In the current climate, any turnstile operator who was to be caught letting a parent nip his kid in for free probably wouldn’t find themselves manning that turnstile at any future games.

Then there’s the new turnstiles themselves. Big, muckle things that fill the tiny gap that is the paying punter area of the turnstile from top to bottom. No chance of lifting anything over the top of those things, not even your scarf. The space allowed for just one person to go through them is tight enough, so you can forget smuggling the little ‘un in under your duffle coat as well, for fear of jamming it for everyone else for the rest of the afternoon.

Finally there’s the nation’s obesity problem. Have you seen how podgy the kids of today are? Try lifting one of those chubsters at all at your peril and that’s your back gone for weeks.

Once the kids were inside there was that other age old perk of being handed/pushed down to the front so that they could get the best view and see over everyone.

Sadly in today’s world, anyone putting a hand on a kid that isn’t theres is viewed with suspicion and with all seater stadium, it’s not even a possibility at the bigger grounds. No, the poor kid could be stuck behind a six and a half foot monster with a novelty hat on their head for added annoyance.

Modern football doesn’t seem to be that kid friendly and you know, I’m not even sure if a lot of the kids care enough these days anyway. Go to any lower league football ground and you’ll find a load of those that have made it along just running around, playing tag and looking entirely disinterested. Or maybe it was always like that and you only appreciate things once you get that wee bit older.

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