Why are we so in love with the past? And what can we learn from this?
The biggest success of the last year in the #hcafc world might be "Hull City Retro". It's grown at a rate of knots and judging by recent away days is almost matching the (albeit very good) current product for shirts. Retro is huge in this country.
Every time I get back up to Hull I like to get to both
"Wrecking Ball Cafe" that does a fantastic job with second hand vinyl
records, and often to "Poorboy boutique" to see what they have in
second hand clothing. Now... I'm a geek and I love all this stuff, I love
eighties and nineties fashion and music and much of the culture that
encompassed it all. I have lots of Boothferry Park artwork up around the house
and it's a constant source of happiness for me as I know it is for most city
fans in the 30 year old plus bracket.
There's a bigger picture here in the way that culture is now
consumed which is very instant, global and digital. This has made the last
10-15 years in particular seem to have less definitive character as decades
gone by. This is summarised by a mate who said if you talk about the seventies,
eighties or nineties you can easily describe the fashion, the television
programmes and films of note, the music and movements... but try doing it for
2000 onwards, it gets tricky.
Inevitably with the current product being the utter dross it is,
we run away to happier times, even if (and I think you'll follow my point here
and intentional contradiction) they weren't actually particularly happier
times. Time definitely distorts events of the past for the better and the 20-year-old
me that stood in the stands of Runcorn, Barnet, and Halifax wasn't having the
time of his life. So, I guess I'm asking, is it all just an illusion created by
us old duffers who pine for life in a ram shackled stadium watching largely
mediocre football, and is the music of Kajagoogoo still a bit shit?
I mean the obvious answer is yes.. (apart from the fact that "Big
Apple" isn't such a bad pop song) but I think there's more complexity to
this. Somewhere along the line we've lost some of the factors that made us feel
part of something with our clubs. Not just City, but most of, if not all clubs
are now closed off to their fans in a way they once weren't. Players too and we
consume the product in a very different way. All of that isn't for good.
There's far too much football on television, Saturday 3pm games have shrunken
at the top level, and although safe standing is gladly back on the agenda it's
probably a little way off still. I think for balance it's also fair to say that
in terms of safety, diversity, inclusivity and availability, that things have
But the big business element of particularly the English game
makes us a particular offender. Those who watch football elsewhere in Northern
Europe would testify as to the difference, particularly in prices which
considering the money our leagues generate through television rights are even
harder to defend. We charge fans too much (we the English rather than City) and
therefore it's becoming an increasingly middle-class event at the top end,
where fans have less disposable income to attend regularly, buy club
merchandise and socialise before the game. We've lost our soul a bit, in
I think that a lot of City fans who have tasted the experience of
the Premier League aren't in huge hurry to go back, which is a shame and also
reflects this disconnect. If we were in the top half of the Championship and
playing good football (or just effective football, please note Grant McCann)
we'd all take that. I don't think this is to do with not wanting to succeed, I
think it's about having enough of a game that we don't really see as an even
playing field, for the club itself or the fans. I guess maybe if we get
significant investment it will help, but unless we are taken over by Jeff
Bezos, we'll never compete with the richest eight clubs in the league and you
could argue that even if we were, it wouldn't really be a very "city"
thing. I think I tweeted recently I'd rather succeed like Brentford than like
Newcastle, I'd guess most city fans would concur.
So finally, what can we learn from this? “We” being the wider
football world. Campaigns like "twenty is plenty" need weight
throwing behind, I'd say more power needs to be given to the fans and their
trusts, which in term puts more weight behind their voice, on ticketing, and
kick off times, pricing and the return to some (not all) more traditional
football values. It might be a drop in the ocean but it’s a start in bringing
back the game to the people who treasure it the most.
There's a reason that a lot of alternative music in the last five years has mimicked some of the synth and alt eighties music, it's because a lot of it was really good, so perhaps to help move football forward, a little retrospective eye to the past should be adopted too. Not all progress is progressive I guess.