The Old Boys’ Pen – Get Behind Your Team (Part 1)

The Old Boys’ Pen – Get Behind Your Team (Part 1)
February 22, 2017 Chris Rowland
In Free, Old Boys' Pen

The Old Boys’ Pen

This is the first article from a new panel of Old Boys (and Girls) who will be giving us an idea of how they think football and watching football, has changed over the years.

Bob Pearce:

“We had selfies and instagrams, Spectating round the fields of Anfield Road.”

Look into the crowd at matches today. We see growing numbers of ‘spectators’ present with their cameras held aloft.

Where is their focus? On their tiny little screens. Ensuring that they are doing a good job of capturing ‘the moment’. Thinking about how great this will look. Who they can share it with. How many views they’ll get. How ‘cool’ it will make them. There are even some DIY directors expertly ‘panning’ around to take in what ‘a Lineker’ or ‘a Townsend’ would call the ‘amazing scenes’ ‘in and around’ them.

Why do they feel this urge to ‘bottle’ the magic of the moment? What do they think they are capturing? What do they think they are capturing this for? Is it to prove they were there? Do they think they are curators seeking to document these magical moments?

The wedding photographer is not part of the wedding party. They are one step removed. They are uninvolved and disengaged spectators. They are not in the moment. Their focus is elsewhere. They are ‘capturing’ the moment. They are postponing their experience of the present until another time.

When my generation are asked about going to a game we can close our eyes and be transported back to the key moments. Where we stood, the temperature, the smells, the straining to see the action. There’s a reason why we can do that. Being fully engaged in the emotional intensity of the moment has branded it into our memories for ever in the highest multi-dimensional format available. We lived our lives in the here and now. We were too busy living to have time to make sure we were seen to be living.

Picture a simple graph. Up this side is the balance of the engaged and unengaged fans. Along the bottom is the quality of the atmosphere. The higher the number of ‘spectators’ the more they detract from the atmosphere they are seeking to curate. There is a place on this graph where there are curators curating a mass of fellow curators. All wedding photographers and no wedding party.

There is hope before we reach that part of the graph Just because you can film it doesn’t mean you have to film it. Switch off that camera and be part of the moment. Your memories will be in multi-sensory, dementia-defying, high-definition. Try it.

But when it comes to those fans whose heartbreak and inconsolable despair is instantly erased when they see themselves on the stadium’s giant screen and become a smiling and waving, neighbour-nudging dignity-free zone…. there really is no hope.

Peter Neall:

The very first time I went to the Kop I was a raw southerner, studying in Liverpool. I had never seen a professional football match.