On Saturday morning I saw one of those pubs that has a banner outside proclaiming “Live sport shown here.” “No, it isn’t!” I muttered as I walked past. Live sport is sport that you actually see as it happens; it is not the view of a sport chosen by someone else and transmitted to you through your TV.
I did watch some live sport in the afternoon; I was at St Andrew’s to see Birmingham City lose 0-2 to Yeovil Town. And, despite what some online pundits have written, Blues didn’t play that badly. They had 66% of the possession, 7 shots on target and 17 off target. Reece Brown, age 17, made his first league start and did really well, though I hope not well enough to attract an offer from another club.
Birmingham City’s financial woes have had serious consequences but they have also opened up an opportunity for young players to get into the first team. I’ve really enjoyed that. And it’s something supporters of big clubs don’t see because their young talent is loaned out to gain experience. Manchester City supporters can watch a team stuffed with stars, which has scored over 100 goals this season. They didn’t have the fun of watching Joe Hart turn into a top keeper.
Let’s enjoy our young players while we can because there may be fewer British players in the future. Grassroots football in England is in decline; over 180,000 people have walked away from it in the last 7 or 8 years according to a recent article1. There are many reasons for this decline including a lack of facilities. A friend’s team has been unable to play its last 3 fixtures because of a waterlogged pitch and that situation is being duplicated all over the country. There’s a lot of money sloshing around at the top but precious little trickles down to the grassroots. If you think that’s unfair, sign the e-petition2 to force the Premier League to give more money to grassroots football.
To return to my original topic: I didn’t regret going to the game against Yeovil. I was disappointed that Blues lost but more discouraged by the fans that left early. We sing that “we’ll be there at the end of the road” but how many of us will actually be there depends on where the road leads us. If it ends up at Wembley, the Blues end will be full of passionate supporters. But there won’t be so many there if Blues sink into League 1 or League 2.
What about you? Will you be there at the end of the road?
- Grassroots football in England: abuse, death threats and withering numbers
- Force the Premier League to back grassroots football