The greed killing the game: the Thundercliffe Files

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

19 April 2021

The only need for a Super League is greed

Football. The people's game. History, legend, ups and downs. A simple game played on a symmetrical rectangle of grass and mud. Divided by nothing more than white lines of paint.

Bill Shankly got it right. It's not about the winning and the losing. It's about the experience, the rush, the smells and sights. The friends and family, the connections and connotations. One of the best pictures I've seen at a football match is 6,000 fans all - and I mean all - holding their head in their hands after a bad miss. You can't choreograph that.

Because football is live, fluid and meandering. It's about reaction not proaction. I thought VAR was the anti-christ of the game with its desire to squeeze every last drop of energy and fun out of it.

Imagine that goal at Anfield. Easy to do right? Now imagine celebrating but having to stop because VAR are checking. Now imagine five minutes have passed. Now imagine it got disallowed because Bradley Allen's cheeky, early jump was deemed illegal.

Controversy is part and parcel of the game. We'll still be talking about Declan Bourne in 30 years time just like we do about Brian Hill today. There's probably no greater feeling than being wronged at a football match.

But VAR is not the one killing football. Greed is.

This Super League bullshit should not be surprising, should not make us angry because it's been coming ever since football sold its soul in 1992 (interestingly, England are still to win a major tournament).

Give me the mud and rain and shit burgers. Give me Hayes away and the fans who must have come to Cleethorpes in a taxi. Give me stripes and songs and joy and hope

The gap between the haves and the have nots has been growing for three decades and is now a yawning chasm, even in the top division, let alone between Man City in first place and Town in 92nd. This is a cynical and calculated attempt to - one way or another - generate more money for clubs that don't need it while the rest of us piss in the same pot.

I’m glad they've done it. Showed themselves for what they really are and what "elite" football stands for. They can all fuck off and play on Mars for all I care and then let us get back to the game we all love.

Football is about community. Simple as that. Generations of football fans spanning 150 years never signed up for this. Give me the mud and rain and shit burgers. Give me Hayes away and the fans who must have come to Cleethorpes in a taxi. Give me stripes and songs and joy and hope - hope! That's all you really want.

Town will never, ever win the Premier League but you hope they might, it's not impossible. They'll never win the Cup one day, but where there's hope, there's a way.

I haven't enjoyed a game of football as much as the one against Bolton for probably 20 years. The passion, the chances created, the workrate. It filled me with pride and I didn't need no Super League to tell me what football is. Harry Clifton showed me actually. By trying his best to play football and win a game against all the odds. Those 11 players and subs played with their hearts on their sleeves and fish on their chest. It may not be enough but I cannot wait to return to the mud and rain and pies next year, whatever league we are in.

Because I know it won't be a Super League. And I'm delighted with that.