Simon Boynton says Arsenal against Liverpool at 4pm on Christmas Eve is no joke, it’s a return to the ‘good old days’!
When you grew up in the 1970s in one of England’s far-flung footballing outposts (the Isle of Wight, since you ask), you did not get to see any live top-flight football and precious few highlights.
Match of the Day and The Big Match had two matches maximum each and, such was the appalling standard of Arsenal’s football for most of the decade, we were rarely the chosen ones.
There were no programmes showing all the goals, let alone covering every match in at least some detail. Even the radio commentary on matches was restricted to Saturday afternoons.
I remember as a teenager listening to Sports Report at 9:55 pm on Radio 2 to find out that Paul Vaessen had scored in the 89th minute, to secure a win away at Juve and put us into the final of the Cup Winners Cup – so much nostalgia in one sentence!!
There were only three regular live matches each year: The Cup Final, The European Cup Final and England v Scotland – all in May.
So, come the start of the Premier League and the contemporaneous launch of Sky Sports, I was ecstatic.
I had moved physically from the deep south to the frozen north and seen us play in person at places as diverse as Boundary Park and Old Trafford, but the joy of coming in from my Sunday lunchtime pub session to sit down and watch a live top-flight match with my mates – every week – was absolute heaven.
And, from then on, Super Sunday has become part of the nation’s football consciousness. It may not be ‘super’ every week, (Burnley v Stoke anyone!) and it may now be part of a five-match feast, running from Friday until Monday, but it is still wonderful and we’d all be pretty much lost without it.
But of course, no one is actually allowed to like Sky or the Premier League, not if you’re a ‘real’ football fan.
It’s their fault that you don’t get your team kicking off at 3 o’clock every Saturday. It’s their fault that your team is not full of players born within a sparrow’s fart of your ground.
It’s their fault that England haven’t won a tournament in over 50 years. It’s always their fault. They have wrenched the working man’s game from out of his calloused hands and presented it on a silver platter to the prawn sandwich brigade. Fact!
So it is patently clear that Sky wishing to show a game on Christmas Eve is just another step on this road to perdition. One tabloid hack even associated it with a step towards Christmas Day football and therefore an attack on the monarchy itself.
What ill-informed crap! I find it absolutely amazing that both those paid to write about the game and those who just can’t help themselves from doing so (and always claim to hold the high moral ground) can have so little regard for its history.
From the end of World War II until 1957, there was a full Football League programme on Christmas Day, with the same clubs playing the return fixture on either Boxing Day or the day after.
It was the norm, with matches well attended and considered one of the highlights of the season. The league tried their best to keep things local, but there are many examples of matches between London clubs and those in the north west. If you don’t believe me, look back at the archives. It’s there in black and white.
Therefore, spare me your agenda-driven anti-Sky anti-Premier League drivel about the destruction of the game. If we play Liverpool on Christmas Eve, either watch it on Sky or don’t!
If you are a season ticket holder, either go to the match itself with friends and family as normal, or give your ticket to a London-based fan (of either side) who doesn’t normally get to go, or doesn’t have Sky.
It will likely make their Christmas and should give you a warm fuzzy feeling of goodwill. The only thing that you might lose is your unbroken record of ‘however many’ consecutive home/away matches that you have attended.
Get over it! I’m sure that worse things have happened in the past and will in the future.