Since walking away from top flight football in 2005, many people have asked what made me, and thousands like me, turn our backs on the beautiful game. In a word disillusionment.
Money had taken over, the fans were being ripped off. The players in many cases, not all, were taking the mickey and football as a spectator sport had lost much of it's fun. It seemed to be reflecting the world, we were being legislated out of the game.
Admittedly watching football in the 70s and 80s had its scary moments. Supporting United at Chelsea or West Ham in those days took particular strength of character, not to say stupidity, but eh, I survived.
Terrace surges and standing on an uncovered terrace in the February sleet were all part of the fun. As was running the gauntlet of City fans through the back alleys of Moss Side after a Maine Road Derby. Now it really is like going to the opera, to the extent that an overbearing jobsworth at Middlesbrough FC recently wrote asking fans in one section of the ground to stop making so much noise.
It's quite simple really, football as a spectacle, has been sanitised beyond recognition. The best way to find out how this mess came about, the corruption and greed that have destroyed the game as we knew it, is to read David Conn's excellent book The Beautiful Game? . Even a hardened cynic will be shocked by the financial goings on revealed in this story of the financial rape of football in England since the early 80s.
In the meantime this excellent short film sums it all up nicely: