Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Price of Progress.

The most unexpected of my birthday presents was a video, a VHS video released in 1990 which provided coverage and a summary of Arsenal’s 1989/90 season. All the brief highlights of all the games and goals that the team played in the then 1st Division of the Football League

Mrs. G said she found it in a charity shop somewhere and thought I might be interested. In a way it’s a shame it wasn’t the highlights of the preceding season, in which Arsenal secured the League championship for the first time since 1971. ‘It’s up for grabs now’ and indeed it was, bless you Michael!


No the 89/90 season was a bit of a disappointment as the title was rather meekly conceded to Liverpool with Arsenal finishing fourth, one place below Tottenham(!). Which may go some way to explain why it was, in particular, a video of this campaign that Mrs. G found, wherever she found it.

However with much joy I settled down to watch and was soon delighted to be watching footage of players I haven’t seen in ages. We do still ’all live in a Perry Groves world’ after all, well some of us do.

But after all of the ohhs, ahhs and ‘blimey it’s….. moments (Peter Shilton in Goal for Derby at the Baseball Ground - You get the general idea) I ended up looking at the pictures of the stands as much as the football being played

These were of course grounds as yet unaffected by the recommendations of the Taylor report after the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989.. Sweeping grey terraces full of supporters with barely a replica shirt between them. And in many grounds the wire fences separating sections of the crowd from each other and the pitch.

Although I don’t remember them as such the footage made the grounds look pretty austere, colourless and rather forbidding places

No massed ranks of fans clad in the same colour, no bright flashing advertising hoardings or jumbo scoreboards with replays. The only prominent colour was the green of the pitch.

And the other thing that struck me was the quality of the presentation on the video itself. This was an ‘Official League Product’ but still seemed pretty amateurish and would suffer badly when compared with similar products available today. Notwithstanding the advances in graphics it was still a pretty poor show.

For all of its many and manifest failings it just seemed to underline the positive benefits brought to clubs who are consistent members of the Premier League.

I had never been a great fan of the idea and railed against the League restructure at the time, particularly on the effects for club in the lower divisions. As I think I have mentioned before I was one of the ‘Idiots’ who released balloons at games in protest at the creation of the new league structure way back when.

But sometimes you forget the world of difference between then and now.

And the price of progress? I would be more than happy to take my eldest to Ashburton Grove / Dubaibury / The Emirates but I can’t afford it. Tickets, travel etc would be about a weeks grocery bill. Maybe I’m not a true fan as I think I would rather eat than watch a game of football.

I could easily have afforded to take him to Highbury in 1989 but would have had some reservations as he has only just turned seven. Ten maybe, but seven would have seemed to me to be just a little too young to huddle on the North Bank

Unless I knew that Perry Groves was getting a game. That would be different.

3 comments:

lettersfromatory said...

Do you have any idea how long it is since I heard someone mention the name 'Perry Groves'?!? Makes me feel very old if the video is from that long ago.

Womble On Tour said...

Any coverage of the Dons' 1-0 win over Arsenal in the January ? :-)

I SORT OF agree with you on the state of football grounds then vs now. But I hate sitting down at games. It ruins the atmosphere. You can't sit down and sing, even the Church of England realise that, which is why they stand to sing hymns. In addition to which, when I took Womble On Tour Junior II to a Huddersfield away game at all-seater Oldham a few weeks ago, he couldn't see a thing. Everyone stood up, depsite the provision of seats. In the old days the small people could just move down to the front of the terracing and still see the game. In all-ticket, all-seater stadia, you can't do that. So if you're under about 5'6'', you're stuffed the moment anyone stands up - ie the moment the ball goes anywhere near the goal.

Bring back the terraces, I say !

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Happy Birth Week, Grendel.