About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Proper Football?

With the Magpies doing the business against St Albans at the first attempt last Saturday, I was left at a loose end on Tuesday night. Deciding that a night on the sofa asking the wife to explain what was going on in CSI, and wondering just what you had to do to qualify to become a celebrity and get a free jungle holiday, I opted to go and watch some football played by full time professionals in a bona fide stadium. Proper football as some of my anti non league friends would call it. In my case a chance to measure the value of what I usually watch at York Road.One fixture jumped out at me. Crystal Palace v Preston North End. I try to get to one or two PNE games a season as I used to be a regular at Deepdale during my salad days at Lancashire Polytechnic. With permatanned Palace grand fromage Simon Jordan tempting fans with a third off usual prices, it seemed a bargain too good to resist at £20.I've been to Selhurst Park just twice previously but I like the feel of the trip to the ground, walking up the hill to the stadium, hemmed in by suburban streets. A real football club at the heart of the community, a concept which is slowly ebbing away as the drift to out of town industrial parks grows apace.The persistent drizzle meant my allocated seat on the front row of the Arthur Waite stand held little appeal so I moved back a few rows, strategically placing myself in front of one of the many pillars but out of the rain and right on the half way line.Three pound for a programme was well spent, on a publication consisting of eighty pages with plenty to read ahead of this Division Two relegation battle (anyone born post 80s see me after the game for a history lesson).In front of a half full stadium (an unchanged average figure to show the inelasticity of football support), the teams walked out from that odd entrance in the corner to the strains of the theme tune from the Long Good Friday leaving me to reflect on that awfully prescient vision of Thatcherite spivvery. I wonder if they play it to remind them of the early 80s recession which led the Eagles to sell off one end of the ground to Sainsburys? Naturally the club song Glad All Over then rang out to whip up the fans.A small but vociferous following had travelled down from Granadaland to cheer on the Lilywhites and as they were situated between two sets of self styled Eagle Ultras there was a real edge as the game kicked off.Sadly this faded as Preston's lack of confidence led to their footballing approach bearing no fruit whilst Palace predictably displayed the signs of becoming the latest team to be moulded by Warnock's Protestant work ethic, all toil, long balls and lets hope to get something from a set piece.With ten minutes of the half remaining the game sparked into life with the first shot on target, when a Kevin Nicholls effort was touched over the bar, Preston scoring from the resulting corner. Just when the home fans were about to turn on their team Palace were gifted two goals before half time and that was that, the second half seeing no change to the score.As I wandered away from the ground I felt like I had been to a real football match but with no change out of £30 once I'd paid my online booking fee and had something to eat on top of admission and a programme but was it really twice as good as an evening at York Road? On the minus side compulsory seating and no beer, but that Long Good Friday's a good tune though!

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