I was talking to old Joe about football earlier on today, and how it has changed so much since the time when l started watching (and loving) it.
It's an old story to be banging on about how the players earn too much, the ticket prices are too high, and the fan base is being eroded as more middle classes have taken up going to the games, but that is because it is true.
Youngsters are being priced out, so they will have to find their enjoyment elsewhere, such as in Play Station games (the new rock n roll) or the Internet (which l certainly wish l had when l was a nipper - l would never have left the house).
Although they will probably watch football on the TV, and support a (usually already successful) team, going to a game will be an occasional treat, and not have the chance to become an addiction. Also, because it costs so much nowadays, it is treated more (especially by the middle classes) as entertainment, so they are more likely to complain and desert a team if they start doing badly, like the fly by night characters they are (hello Arsenal fans).
Players, although well paid in the past, used to have a lot of contact with ordinary fans. Living in the community with them, frequenting normal shops and drinking in local pubs (and buying them when they retired). Even a superstar like George Best used to get hounded by the fans, whereas today he would be hermetically sealed off in a mansion somewhere with extra large gates (and probably a built in bar). The protection they have from the fans and everyday life nowadays is unbelievable.
Remember Kevin Keegan falling off his bike on Superstars? Imagine Fergie allowing Wayne Rooney to participate in something like that.
The picture above is from 1970 when Best was already in the last stages of being a God, and he still managed to score six goals (in a 8-2 victory) for Manchester United away at Northampton Town in the FA Cup (his first game back after a suspension).
Check out the fans by the pitch, the lack of advertising and branding, and the tiny ground.
A magical day for everybody, as even the Northampton fans admitted they were privileged to see a genius at work.
Happy memories of when the game wasn't full of arrogant, gangsta lovin', big earphone wearing, multi millionaire tossers who couldn't care less about their clubs if they can get a heftier pay packet and flashier cars elsewhere.
And yet l still love it.