The changing face of English football

Posted by LauraDerb on February 17th, 2021

Just over fifty years ago, my father took me to watch my first professional soccer match, not Manchester United, not Liverpool, not Arsenal, Rotherham United. Who are or were Rotherham United? Well, they still exist, albeit at the lower levels of the English Football League, and I'm still a follower. So nothing has changed? On the contrary, the whole fabric of English football has changed and has changed a lot for the worst when it comes to lower league clubs. Where once we all competed on equal terms, a large division was created that continues to expand.

Take attendance numbers, for example. The crowds at Rotherham were never huge compared to Premier League standards, but they were generally in the region of 10,000 - 12,000 with possibly as many as 16,000 or 17,000 for an FA (Football Association) Cup game against higher level opponents or for a game against one of our local rivals, Sheffield Wednesday or Sheffield United. More than enough to support the club, especially when some players were forced to supplement their meager salary by working at a local mine, something unimaginable these days of extremely inflated payouts. Today, average attendance is down two-thirds to about 3,500. So where have all the people gone?

Well, to answer that you first have to look at society as a whole. Rotherham, in the late 1940s and 1950s, was a working-class city that received its support largely from steelworkers, mining workers, and laborers. Today those industries have almost completely ข่าวบอลยูโร. The family tradition of following your father and father in the foundry or in the mine has long since disappeared and the sight of three generations attending a game on a Saturday afternoon is now a rarity rather than commonplace.

There were few alternative forms of entertainment in those days, the local pub, the cinema and soccer (cricket in the summer months) were the only options available. Few households had a television, if they had a channel, in black and white, that showed programs only a few hours a day. Some had a gramophone player and a collection of '78' records, mostly great bands or classical tenors. Today, the options are endless. Twenty-four-hour color television on one hundred and thirty HD channels, DVDs, CDs, gaming stations, game consoles, surround sound home theater systems, iPods ... and that's before you walk out the front door.

People demand more these days in terms of comfort, service and presentation. By the end of the 20th century, many soccer stadiums had been transformed into magnificent architectural buildings with steep seats that provide uninterrupted views of the field, sheltered from the elements by gigantic cantilevered roof structures. Not in Rotherham with its leaky roof, crumbling cement, and old timbers. Not for us a four-course menu in one of a variety of quality, carpeted restaurants with elegantly dressed rugs and waiters. Queuing in the rain for a cup of Bovril and a meatloaf and potatoes from a cabin at the back of the terrace was our gourmet meal.

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