I’m taking a real trip down memory lane at the moment, back to the days when no Sunday afternoon would be complete without an hour in front of the telly and The Big Match.
Some of them are being shown again introduced, of course, by the late Brian Moore who also commentates on some of the matches. The changes in the game and the players from 40 years ago is quite incredible.
Last week I watched West Ham beat Newcastle 5-0 at Upton Park. This was followed by Stoke v Cardiff.
One of the biggest changes was the pitch. Any deep covering of grass was restricted to the four corners. The rest of the pitch was a rutted cabbage patch with large areas covered in sand. Compare that to the velvet-like lawns of today.
That is one good thing about today’s game, although Fratton Park always had a top class surface thanks to the late Duggie Reid.
We had goalkeepers without gloves who could actually catch the ball from crosses and corner kicks instead of flapping it away like modern ‘keepers.
Spectators were standing on the terraces with just one or two policemen patrolling the touchlines.
One thing I did notice more than anything else though was the players just got on with it if there was a foul. There was no feigning injury or falling over and no-one trying to con the referee in the penalty area.
West Ham’s Trevor Brooking collided with another player and twisted his ankle. Play was stopped by Phil Parkes, the Hammers ’keeper kicking the ball out of play. Brooking was given a quick once-over by the trainer and then limped off. There was no screaming from the managers.
And nearly every player was British. How commentators learn their craft these days with so many odd-sounding names is beyond me.
Yes, the game has come a long way, but I think, looking at these games, I prefer it just a little more than today’s version.