Thursday, July 24, 2014


A Football Whine

Back in the day, I hated pre season. That lull between the end of May and early August when the new season started. I used to be on the phone almost daily to the Arsenal, 01-226-0304 back then (that was without looking!), to find out what friendlies were on the horizon.

I missed the start of the 1983 season. Unemployment didn't really allow for much in the way of an overseas jaunt following the Arsenal but I made up for it in 1984 (Germany and Netherlands) and 1986 (Ireland). I miss all that. Going to different places, bumping into lads you normally saw in different parts of the country. Over land and sea, we were there for the Arsenal.

I recall hitching round southern Ireland for a couple of friendlies, getting home and finding out we had a game scheduled at Southend. A friendly at Windsor and Eton, getting stuck in traffic outside Portsmouth.

Happy days but there was next to no coverage of them in the media. Just a hardy few who went to the games and still recall minute details 30 years on.

Cannot even compare with today. The internet and the global interest in a handful of English clubs means the coverage is 24/7 and doesn't ease up. It doesn't seem to be enough now for a team to have a cuple of pictures from a friendly in the programme. Now, we have photographers and players posting pictures non stop, there are constant updates on the website. And folks around the world are lapping it up. As I type this, people in Indonesia are forsaking their journey back to their home village to watch Manchester United play LA Galaxy in a friendly!

We have another channel that has shown friendlies featuring the likes of Hearts and Bayer Leverkusen!

And the local game? Well, a mix of the election and the fasting month means the game is in another period of hibernation with just a few low key friendlies arranged at the last minute to whet the appetite.

Did you know, for example, Sarawak are in town? A pretty big club by Malaysian standards I am sure you will agree, they were hoping to play Persib, PSIS and Persebaya. And they played? Villa 2000 and Cilegon United at a field on a military base!

The local papers are filled with tales of clubs arranging friendlies before cancelling them. Arranging then cancelling. And so on.

As ever, no one can organise anything decent because no one has the authority to actually make things happen. Juventus are coming next month but that is taking a private organisation to make it happen. No one else can guarantee security permission.

Admittedly, this is an odd year with the elections and the fasting month coinciding. But it would be nice if in future seasons we can have people sit down and try and come up with something constructive through a long break rather than the current one month of slow news days. People still want their football and as the local game constinues to do nothing, so the European teams tighten their grip.

Surely it is not beyond the wit of someone to a team like Persib going to play a couple of games in Malaysia?

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