Friday, 28 November 2008

POP GOES THE MATCH AS I REMEMBER IT...



POPCORN. It was the popcorn that got me.
The staple diet of cinema-goers worldwide - and there it was, branded with the Liverpool FC name and badge, on sale at Anfield.
Perhaps even more worrying was the sight of fans, with tubs of the stuff, heading up the steps of the Kop.
I don't get it. Really don't get it. How is going the match to get behind the team you so passionately support remotely like kicking back at the flicks and watching Indiana Jones?
I just can't imagine nudging the missus as Steven Gerrard skins a defender,throwing back a few pieces of popcorn and saying: "Ooh, that was a good bit wasn't it?!"
But joking aside, this was a real big kick up the arse that said the game has changed beyond all recognition since I first glimpsed the hallowed Anfield turf as a teenager.
I see the popcorn era as a signal of two things.
One, that the club's owners are totally committed to squeezing every last penny out of fans (which we knew of course) and two, that the dynamic of the club's supporters has changed beyond all recognition.
I shudder to think what the reaction would have been had you forced your way into the middle of the standing Kop clutching a tub of popcorn. In those days you were more likely to see fans coming into the Kop with a bag of chips and the Echo (which was later funnelled for the infamous mid-game slash!).
Then the crowd was made up of fans of all ages and was undoubtedly more Scouse.
Now, a lot of those fans have been priced out the game. And at nearly 40 quid a pop for a ticket these days, it's no surprise.
The result is a division within the crowd. And it's not just at Liverpool, (true) Manchester United fans will tell you the same thing.
I've seen more arguments at the match in the last couple of years than I have in a decade.
And most have been caused by the 'daytrippers' or from a reaction to this kind of fan. These are the 'experience' fan. People who fill up on products (and popcorn) at the club shop, record You'll Never Walk Alone and take a load of pictures before heading home to boast to their mates.
Half of them don't even seem to care about the team - I've witnessed many slagging the players, the city and Scousers off while still in the confines of Anfield.
So it's no wonder there's tension.
It's like the people in power at the club have totally lost sight of what it's all about - and this is not all down to the Yanks.
Liverpool Football Club should be a football club for Liverpool. But the reserves games aren't even played in the city.
And while the official line is it's to protect the pitch, you can't help but think there's a marketing suit rubbing his hands together at the thought of drumming up more support in areas outside of Liverpool.
So what's the answer? Well for me, it's simple. Stop taking the piss. Don't make us pay for the 'chance' of a ticket. Give people local to the club the chance of seeing the reserves. Stop putting up ticket prices.
And, please, leave the popcorn at the Odeon...

1 comment:

Richard Buxton said...

Well said Robbo.

Unfortunately the tide has been turning for the best part of a decade.

I'm from the Premier League generation but had the typical father-son education on the match and all things LFC so I was lucky that I haven't turned out like the shower of idiots that go nowadays.

I wrote about it at length on my blog (houldingstblues.blogspot.com) and it echoes the same sentiments as you've expressed here.

It's at times like this that I wish I could go back to 1994/95 and how it used to be.

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