Monday 17 July 2023

A solution from the past

 The Steve Archibald episode of Icons of Football (a BBC Scotland production) put me in mind of yet another long-lost football feature probably lost to the game for good. 

I’m not talking, as you might expect, about Tottenham Hotspur winning trophies, although my thought was inspired by footage of their 1984 UEFA Cup Final over Anderlecht - in which Archibald scored a penalty in the shoot out - a thought that if turned to reality could be used to inspire change for the good of both the game and the fan (so no chance then - Ed).

Archibald’s success from 12 yards, and captain Graham Roberts’(?) lifting of the trophy was seen in the stadium by 40,000 Tottenham fans, which younger readers (pah! - Ed) may consider an unusually generous allocation by UEFA for the conclusion of its second most prestigious club competition (the main prize was also won on penalties by an English team, Liverpool, at the home of AS Roma, who were also their opponents). Rather, this was the second leg of the Final, yes second leg, just like there were second legs in all the previous rounds, and indeed still are today in the modern Europa League concept until the Final, which is a one-off game often played in a stadium small enough or unreachable enough (like Baku in 2019) to cause mass resentment among supporters who have been on every part of the journey until it’s climax.

The ticket allocation protest is an annual one - for both domestic and European Finals. The corporate football family muscles it’s way in conscience-free, and even if you get a ticket it’s going to cost well over £100 on top of the travel. As much as I derided the European Conference League, I can’t deny that West Ham fans had a great time watching them win it in Seville, though it’s a shame my West Ham friends who go to every home game didn’t get the chance to be there. No doubt they enjoyed it at home or in the pub, but it’s never the same as being there, and even if the conclusive leg of a Final may not fall at your home ground, you’ve rightfully watched your team in the Final

Away games both domestically and in Europe are a closed shop at the top level, with the same people and their number of credits representing the team, but here surely is an opportunity for the supporters to be every much as part of the grand occasion as the pyrotechnics and the pointless, expensive pop acts.

So, in the words of Deniece Williams, from the song of the same year that Spurs triumphed in Europe at home, let’s hear it for the fans (Jeez -Ed).

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