Northstand Nostalgia: Premier League greed has ruined bond between fans and clubs

Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce
Nathan Thompson. Picture: Sarah Standing

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A regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, the Northstand Critic has got back in touch...

It’s been over a month since Sam Allardyce’s shock departure from his England post.

Few tears were shed for ‘Big Sam’ who was a long way from popular.

Many fans thought his appointment unsuitable due to previous allegations.

Harry Redknapp was denied the chance to manage England possibly due to similar allegations.

Redknapp was Pompey’s best manager for half a century, yet there are aspects of his persona that make it difficult for many to offer but a begrudging acknowledgement to his achievements.

Can Pompey fans imagine how they would have exalted ‘Bally’ or the ‘Bald Eagle’, if either had won us the FA Cup!

Since the inception of the Premier League, it has spawned a succession of insincere, greedy and bland managers.

So when an intelligent, engaging newbie, like Eddie Howe, arrives on the scene, his honesty and courtesy smack you right between the eyes.

Although not ready for the England role, just yet, I do hope his personality remains unchanged, as it continues to be exposed to the indulgences of the Premier League.

Great managers of the past such as Clough, Shankly, Nicholson and Docherty were all revered in my time.

During the 70s players and managers were more approachable.

Club loyalty bred identity within the game.

The players and managers belonged to the club and the club belonged to the fans.

Liverpool defender Tommy Smith gave an insightful example of how highly the club’s management valued its supporters in an excerpt from his autobiography.

He told of how one evening during the early 1960s, the club chairman had reason to return to Anfield to retrieve some documentation.

Whilst in his office, which overlooked the ground, he noticed a light had been left on at the rear of the ‘Kop’ end, so he went to investigate.

The light was shining from a toilet block in the corner of the stand.

On entering the toilets at 9.30pm on a midweek evening, he found his manager, Bill Shankly and assistant Bob Paisley, both in overalls painting the whole toilet block.

When asked by the chairman why they were undertaking this task, Shanks replied that the grubby facilities were not in keeping with Liverpool’s greatest asset, ‘their fans’.

The greedy egotistic Premier League has ensured there can be no return to this relationship.

It was that same kind of kinship that still continues to lure 16,000 souls to Fratton Park every fortnight to watch League Two dross.

I am not so sure that today’s footballing insincerity will breed a boom to such healthy numbers in the stadiums of the future.