The privileged people’s game
In the week where a fresher’s guide to Trinity College Cambridge from 1660 advised the new intake to avoid football, it ‘being… a rude, boistrous exercise, & fitter for Clownes then for Scholler’, the FA’s 150th anniversary match inadvertently showed how far the game has come in being accepted as a natural pastime for the upper and ruling classes – and our deference to and mute acceptance of their involvement in our game.
That the princes take every opportunity to declare their love for the game is no surprise. But it doesn’t so much demonstrate their egalitarian streak, as they might hope, as their being in tune with a rich younger generation used to the game accommodating them (20 years or more after the move toward edging out the undesirable elements with more costly all-seater stadia – that and floating the idea of letting the indebted clubs go to the wall). The chattering classes and above depend on it for their spectacle (rugby, let’s face it, is a niche sport even for the posh), but in a lot more parasitic way. Oh look, uncouth footballer does something bad, how terrible, let’s have some more of it.
But that’s where football is today – administrators talking about investment and development in the grassroots while the global-not-local game continues to alienate traditional supporters at the top level (and not just here). Bring back the clownes.