The Big Match

2/28/2008 05:26:00 pm / The truth was spoken by Rich /

I was watching the Big Match on ITV4 this afternoon. Briwyant it was too. Liverpool V Manchester United from February 26th 1983. It was an awesome spectacle - except for the shorts which are only worn by Hooters girls these days - and I found myself feeling rather nostalgic.

Oh people, what a fantastic era that was. The Iranian Embassy siege, the Fawlklands War, the Cold War, free Milk at school, conkers, Trumpton and Panini sticker albums - marvellous! I've never been one of those people who whine about the state of the game today, but I have to concede it was refreshing to watch a game where the referee only used his whistle for the kick-off and final whistle.

The tackles flying in all over the pitch in this game, which brought not even a raised eye brow from the referee, juxtaposed to the four-match ban Jeremy Aliadiere has just received for a slap on Liverpool's Javier Mascherano kind of made one feel embarrassed for today's nancy boy footballers who hit the deck at every opportunity because they can exploit the overprotective approach to policing the game referees are encouraged to take.

I'm not sure that four-match bans were ever considered in the 1980's. You might have got a three-match ban for killing a referee with your bare hands, but I don't think the football association back then could ever envisage a tackle that could be so heinous as to warrant such a lengthy ban as four whole games.

Equally as refreshing as the referee's leniency was the total absence of football punditry and player interviews; Just Brian Moore - who has always struck me as the kind of guy who wore womens underwear - paraphrasing a few comments made by inarticulate players and then on to the next game.

Is there anything more nauseating than Richard Keys' stroking Andy Gray's thigh under the desk while he vomits ridiculous rhetorical statements at Jamie Redknapp; "United will want to win today won't they Jamie?"

If there's one thing that makes me dry wretch consistently about football presentations today it's a sofa full of average ex-professionals thinking their opinions are warranted and post-match interviews with footballers who are reduced to churning out a series of clichés because they're not capable of insightful opinion, or stringing coherent constructive sentences together.

A year ago people, I would have argued that while the game has gone soft now it is better for it as the skilled players are able to entertain us with their impressive tricks and shiny football boots...but even in the light of Eduardo's injury at the weekend, I'm not so sure now.

Despite the physical nature of the game, I don't think broken legs and serious leg injuries were a frequent occurrence in 70's and 80's, amazing really since a lot of players didn't even bother with shin pads and I'm not sure the quality of play and goals scored is so much better today that it justifies turning the game into a homosexual's tea party.

I'll be doing some more research on this, but as it goes I think my recent loss of faith in the game has been compounded by this piece of 80's nostalgia. There has been no yearning for the return of Saint and Greavsie however.


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