The Thundercliffe Files: the value in the tat

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

27 September 2019

The football economy creates more than its share of tat. But it doesn't hide how the game gives us a place to be.

The Thundercliffe Files mastheadWednesday’s London trip brought home many a truth. The echoing gulf that exists between the haves and the have nots. The speed of top division football – genuinely sometimes a blur. The support of Town continues to amaze and delight: for once we all understood how fatuous the task was and just enjoyed the game for what it was.

What also hit home was that football has its own economy. Without it, pubs would shut, stewards would sit at home and half and half scarf-makers would (hopefully) go to Hell.

Of course, I’ve always known of its actuality but the football economy really does shine bright at the bigger grounds. Whole hotels and restaurants and programme sellers with their own electronic screens, together with police getting their overtime, camera operators filming goals, photographers capturing literally every moment. All exist because football exists.

And then there is the betting, the megastores, the ticket sellers – even the touts – the fast food outlets, all chiming along on a balmy Wednesday evening because grandmas and sons and aunties and friends and cousins want to watch 22 people kick a football around.

For 90-odd minutes football allows us to breathe, allows us to be. It creates thoughts, words and deeds. Cements relationships, creates memories, catches dreams

It makes areas that are forgotten thrive, it enables people to have a place to spend their money and the cycle goes on. Fascinating when you think about it.

But more important than the cash is the cultural capital that is created. The chance to socialise with friends, visit places you never have, or never would, get some fresh air and fill your lungs to be able to sing. Sing!

Football gives us a purpose and for 90-odd minutes every other week it allows us to breathe, allows us to be. It creates thoughts, words and deeds. Cements relationships, creates memories, catches dreams.

Celebrating a goal, bemoaning the ref or chomping on a barely edible pie is all part of this cultural capital. I saw plenty and breathed it all in the other night.

Football may have changed at the very top but it still creates communities, makes people laugh and cry and learn about themselves and their place in the world. It makes us nostalgic and wanted. In amongst all the hyperbole and tatty merchandise of the economy of football is a ruddy great big vat of culture.