...In addition to which...
I'm biting... though not in the Luis Suarez sense.
Biting in a Luis Suarez sense is unacceptable.
Leg-breaking tackles are acceptable in a World Cup.
Threats to deny the impoverished citizens of your country one of their few pleasures by striking if not paid exorbitant bonuses - in hard US cash, naturally - ditto.
Paying your win bonuses to "terrorist" organisations is also unimpeachable conduct.
As are diving and denying it... and attempting to get fellow professionals sent-off by feigning injury.
Openly calling a referee a cheat must also be permissible because three World Cup coaches have done it in the past month. (Do libel laws not apply in football?)
Rioting when your team loses is OK as well.
Drives away sponsors.
Drives down sales.
Totally unacceptable during a World Cup. It may even be "offensive."
Rather like "foul language."
I'm biting anyhow.
This is unlikely to be a brief post. (Admit it: you're all shocked by that, aren't you?)
For reasons from the "compare & contrast" school of essay-writing - and because Paul Butler has mentioned them - That Mob in Ruislip will be likely to feature prominently in this - though there's almost no contrast at all in the way either board operates.
I'd say the "foul language" moratorium has been badly handled.
With such a small support base, it's debatable whether an announcement that would inevitably be seen as both patronising and pompous was necessary, though Simon may well be getting hacked-off with repeatedly having to ask fans face-to-face to tone things down.
A process of official written warnings and statutory suspensions of pre-determined length does smack of the type of officious and time-consuming bureaucracy of which the Parasitocracy in charge of This Pathetic Excuse for a Nation is fond.
Images of the Bottom Inspectors in "Viz" spring to mind.
Let's open with the matter of "swearing" and "bad language"... and what constitutes it.
I'd assume the "f-word" would be on the banned list.
Excuse me while I just make a quick Google search for Kenneth Tynan...
Well I never!
It appears Mr. Tynan was not the first person to use the "f-word" on TV in this country.
I'd have done my pieces if I'd been on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" and that had come up
Brendan Behan, a man whose alcohol consumption would make Shane McGowan seem a logical candidate to lead next week's Eid prayers at the end of Ramadan, seemingly used it as long ago as 1956, though he was so drunk and slurring so badly that scarcely anyone noticed.
A manual labourer in Belfast also used it when interviewed live on local TV a few years later.
Does anyone see a pattern emerging there?
I certainly hope not.
The Irish are no more likely to either drink to excess or use "foul language" than anyone else.
Nor are they more prone to committing acts of violence.
Of any sort.
As this evening and tomorrow in Ulster will demonstrate.
"Racism" is not an accusation to be shrugged-off lightly in this day and age. In common with "causing offence", guilt or innocence is not determined by the intention of the accused or the opinion of either those on the bench or those in the jury room; it's based on the subjective opinion of the accuser.
Totalitarianism tends to work like that.
It isn't very culturally diverse.
Kenneth Tynan used the f-word not as an expletive, but in a debate on censorship, which largely focused on theatre and entertainment. This was in the days when the Lord Chamberlain was effectively God, with arbitrary powers to ban anything scheduled to be performed in a theatre, for any reason... especially if it was considered "offensive."
The Lord Chamberlain's powers were revoked only after Baron Cameron Cobbold, the incumbent in the late-1960s, blocked a proposed West End opening for "Hair" - a new musical which had been extremely successful in the USA.
Tynan's words in the "offending" sentence were:
"I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word 'f**k' would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden."
From my viewpoint, when applied to the inhabitants of This Pathetic Excuse for a Nation fifty years later, that sentence would ring just as true if it was curtailed at the word "people."
It goes without saying that questions were asked in the House of Commons. 133 MPs signed a censure motion and the BBC was forced to apologise.
Mary Whitehouse - of whom more soon - wrote a letter to Her Majesty.
Tynan was clearly talking about context.
I, along with other posters on this thread, would hope the matter of context will be considered in Hendon FC's ban on "foul language."
There's been no official response to those queries on context, however - at least not on this thread.
What varieties of the "f-word" might be banned?
Would an Irish "feck" or "fecker" - the latter generally deemed more or less permissible in what passes for polite society in Dublin - be acceptable?
How about the original German "fick" - from which the Anglo-Saxon comes?
Is anyone "offended" by the logo of that amusingly-named and well-known fashion chain, which probably has an outlet on a high street near you?
Tynan was against this type of censorship because he viewed it as illogical and arbitrary.
It's hard to disagree.
I'd assume that fifty years ago an on air "God damn!" would have brought a scarcely less outraged - and almost certainly a more sanctimonious - response.
A "God damn!" would have provoked more ire in reactionaries than the "f-word" a generation earlier.
Is "blaspheming" covered by the new Hendon FC initiative on "foul language"?
If not, why not?
There are religious fans on here - though I doubt those of genuine faith are amongst the more easily "offended."
Will "blaspheming" be banned if someone claims to be "offended" by it?
At about the time of the Tynan outburst, Mary Whitehouse diligently sat at home with her abacus and endured a whole episode of "Till Death Us Do Part."
I don't recall how many times Alf Garnett was alleged to have used "bloody" in the twenty-eight minutes or so between the opening and closing titles, but Mrs. Whitehouse did a lot of bean-flicking on her abacus. The number of times she flicked her beans was well into three figures. Somewhat excessive for twenty-eight minutes.
Large numbers of people were "offended."
Mrs. Whitehouse was by no means the only person to whom the word "bloody" was unacceptable half a century ago, but it's now regarded as "offensive" by almost precisely nobody.
Would "bloody" be worthy of a written warning under Hendon FC's new disciplinary code, should someone claim to be "offended"?
As some words gravitate down the list of shocking expletives and epithets, others progress upwards.
The "c-word" has advanced rapidly... though I find it hard to understand why "coloured" should be considered so "offensive."
A noun for female genitalia has also made impressive advances.
When Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's talking heads routine, "This Bloke Came Up To Me", first saw the light of day, the "f-word" was probably seen as being equally offensive to the "c-word."
Precisely why the "c-word" should have been elevated to its current plane is a matter for sociologists and - more relevantly - psychiatrists. The elevation of the "n-word" is even more worthy of the shrinks' attention.
Samuel Pepys used variations of the "c-word" quite regularly in his diaries, written 350 years ago.
"Cunny" was his favoured variety. (Straight sex was de rigueur in the days preceding "cultural diversity.)
Is "cunny" on the banned list?
Is it more offensive than the "c-word"?
Is it less "offensive"?
Does Equalitist doctrine demand that they be treated as Expletives of Equal Merit?
"Foul language" appears to be an area into which words come and go, governed by the type of stringent logic, thought processes and controls normally associated solely with the UK Border Agency.
Speaking of the UK Border Agency and all things foreign, why is it that almost all "foul language" and "offensive" words seem to originate in dialects that came over 'ere from north-west Germany and the southern extremity of Scandinavia?
"F**k", "c**t", "a**e", "s**t" - they're all indisputably of Anglo-Saxon derivation.
There was a time, many centuries ago, when they were in common usage. At least amongst the peasantry and tradesmen.
The only exceptions seem to be "bugger", which is Norman-French - i.e. Scandinavian - and "sod", which is presumably of Hebrew origin.
Are there any of the many words derived from either Greek or Latin, pertaining to either bodily parts south of the waist or to acts in which the nether-regions are used, that are deemed "foul language" or "offensive?
If not, why not?
Think about it.
Yes, I know most of you are English and, as such, thinking doesn't really come naturally - far better to say "Yessir!" or fall in line with the herd, or base your reactions on emotion - but you're supposed to be culturally diverse. One doesn't get more culturally diverse than an Englishman thinking.
If Anglo-Saxons were members of the colo... er, sorry... members of the "pigmentally challenged" community, they might justifiably scream the "r-word."
I doubt there'd be many folk claiming to be "offended" by "foul language" then, would there?
It does seem to me that campaigns to root-out "foul language" are generally based on a cocktail of self-delusion and a yearning for a less sophisticated era of widespread innocence. There's more of an aura of helplessness & hopelessness about them than auras of either frustration or genuine authoritarianism.
It seems to me, in the genuine sense of the word, pathetic.
The genie left the bottle on "foul language" a long time ago. It's hard to believe that any child in London could reach their first day at primary school without having heard just about every "naughty word" in the dictionary.
There are examples of this type of tokenist and delusional behaviour in other fields.
Rolf Harris has been mentioned by Mickeygee.
Some rozzer went through several thousand "pornographic" images on the Rolfer's computer. (The things they do to protect society, eh?) Around thirty of these images were possible "child pornography." One has to laugh, given that Harris was already bang to rights, that e-mails flew - slowly, in all probability - between Scotland Yard and various ex-Soviet states to find birth certificates confirming that the models were over eighteen.
Huge numbers of teenage girls these days may open their legs at thirteen, catch chlamydia at fourteen and throw bastards at fifteen, but we must protect children from exploitation... by making it illegal for mothers of three kids to get their norks out for artistic poses until their eighteenth birthday.
If anyone reading this has a retro "Page 3" pic of a sixteen or seventeen-year-old Samantha Fox, Maria Whittaker, Debbie Ashby or Gail McKenna on their laptop, they're technically guilty of possessing "child pornography."
It's one of the laws of human nature:
"The greater the need to punish the evil, the lesser the ability to correctly identify the evil."
It's an almost exact law of inverse proportion.
It doesn't apply solely to adherents of ideologies that style themselves "religions."
The thing I find most laughable about all the Equalitist Parasitocracy's attempts to censor "unacceptable" language is their own appalling lack of command of English. They are never remotely capable of defining any of the things they wish to ban. This tragicomedic situation commenced with the disgraceful MacPherson Report.
Four morons were paid a king's ransom to define "racism." They failed abysmally, copping out with: "Anything perceived as racist by a victim or any other person." The quartet should have head their sizable fees withheld and been placed under collective house arrest until they did what they'd been paid to do.
We've subsequently had laws on "religious" hatred that make no attempt to define "religion."
The Lord only knows how many laws on "incitement" - again lacking any definition of the offence - we now have to endure.
Plenty of laws concerning things that are "offensive" are also on the statute books - once more lacking anything that might be remotely considered an acceptable legal definition in the USA.
I left school at fifteen without a qualification to my name - and I wasn't in class for much of the time I was supposed too be - but, by the Lord Harry, I think I'm sufficiently adept at use of my own language to be able to define "racism" or "religion." The question of whether I could define either in a manner that would allow the arrest of "Nasty Evil People, Not At All Like Me", for doing things almost identical to practices I indulge in myself - without running the risk of having my own collar felt - is another matter entirely... at least if the definition has to appear "fair" and has to give the illusion of applying equally to all citizens and "communities."
Perhaps someone on here might like to give us a definition of what they consider "foul language" to be.
A definitive list of words might be useful.
And let's avoid MacPhersonisms. "Anything people consider to be offensive" is not an acceptable definition.
If ten Dutchmen from various backgrounds agree on something, it's a reasonable indication that the thing might be true. Conversely, if 10,000,000 Englishmen agree on something, it's an indication of nothing more meaningful than that one of the Englishmen shouted the thing very loudly. Probably in a "Received Pronunciation" accent.
There is no more brainless, spineless and overwhelmingly ovine nationality on this planet.
David W. is one of the more intelligent and usually rational fans on here. Maybe he'd like to enlighten us as to what he considers "vile language" to be.
The suggestion that such language is unacceptable to the majority of football fans is laughable.
One of the last occasions I endured Match of the Day, probably more than a decade ago, featured a game that I seem to recall was at Southampton. As the visiting keeper prepared to take a goalkick, the traditional low murmur began. As it approached a crescendo, as the keeper approached the ball, the camera zoomed-in on a small group of fans. In the middle of the screen was a woman who must have been about seventy. She was joining the roar with enthusiasm.
"She's not, is she?" asked Barry Davies.
The septuagenarian let rip an "Aaah! You're s**t!" that put those around her to shame... or not, as you may hold.
Barry Davies let out a little laugh - half amused, half embarrassed - and left it at an "Oh, dear!"
I doubt if Barry Davies's attitude to "foul language" at football matches has changed over the past fifty years. His attitude to "racism" certainly hasn't. Unlike that of every other press box veteran, all of whom had difficulty spotting bananas or hearing monkey noises in the 1970s - when Mr. Davies managed to detect them - but who hear the slightest whisper with a "racist" inflection these days.
One of the things that makes this new Hendon FC code somewhat comical is that all examples of "foul language" that I find remotely unacceptable - contextually - come from players.
It's a while since I looked at the Laws of the Game, but I would assume any "foul language" should be deemed worthy of a yellow card and any directed at match officials should result in an instant red.
Players being carded for "foul language" is something that almost never happens.
At a game a few seasons back, I was standing next to a bloke with a couple of nine or ten-year-olds in tow. Right in front of them, a player rebuffed a colleague's persistent requests for a quick, short throw with a rising chant of, "F**k off! F**k off!! F**k off!!! F**K OFF!!!!"
He was playing for Metropolitan Police FC.
I've heard several players call linesmen and referees a "c**t" in recent seasons without sanction.
Even at Grosvenor Vale, some of the old gits have been roused to bellow "Language!" at the occupants of the away dugout on a few occasions.
Personally, I would be in favour of referees adhering to the letter of the law and brandishing a straight red.
Football, however, has far bigger problems on the field, never mind off it.
"Won't someone please think of the children?" is a phrase I can't look at without seeing Maud Flanders.
I'm not having a pop at John Rogers or anyone else for bringing school age or pre-school-age kids along, but it's not something I'd consider appropriate.
My view has nothing to do with swearing.
I only once took any of any of my ex's kids to an association football match. I considered QPR v. Oxford, when both were just about down one April in the late-90s, safe-ish ground for an 8-year-old girl, though only if her mum came along as well. They lived close to the ground and I was getting badgered persistently.
In every other case, with every other ex, I've refused any request from kids to take them to football. As I've said, swearing had nothing to do with it. I did not - and do not - consider a football match an appropriate environment for a child... especially if there was a chance I might end up with the sprog on a semi-permanent or even permanent basis.
Rugby Union was a different matter entirely. I have no problem taking kids to professional rugby games.
What went for football also went for motorcycles. If I ever arrived at an ex's premises on a bike, I'd park it around the corner and stick the helmet in the topbox so the kids didn't see it.
Not something I'd want kids to get into.
Just because I do something doesn't mean I'd want kids to copy me. I don't believe that's hypocritical.
I would be somewhat mortified if any child I knew ever saw me riding a bicycle as a cycle courier - and I never rode on the pavement and almost never skipped lights. "Don't try this at home, kids."
I also fail to see what a small child can gain from watching football at a young age.
I was once lumbered with my godson on the eve of his fourth birthday. I had bought big sis and her boyfriend, amongst others, tickets to watch Wasps in an important Heineken Cup game. I wanted to go as well, so it was unavoidable that the three-year-old had to be dragged along, though this was against my better judgement. He quite liked the wasp mascot and seemed to grasp some of the explanations about kicking the ball between the posts or getting it into the bit at the end of the pitch. He was tolerable until almost half-time, but got almost insufferably grizzly before the break. I couldn't blame him. Promises of a post-match trip to Toys Are Us and the Early Learning Centre at Watford's Harlequin shopping mall were only partly successful in placating him.
Maybe it's because I trust my sister's parenting abilities more than those of the collection of ex-junkies, borderline alcoholics, animal rights weirdos and sundry nutters I tend to get involved with, but I did take my nephew to football - starting when I got lumbered babysitting for him when he was seven. He was already a football fan. (Manchester United sadly - his absent father probably to blame.)
His first game was at Fulham, newly purchased by the Phony Pharaoh and in Division Three. I also took him to QPR, Brentford (including a feisty game v. Cardiff) and Barnet over the next few months - I was not going near a ground in the Premier League - but he decided to stick with Fulham and I took him regularly.
One Sunday, I got lumbered with him in unfortunate circumstances. The unfortunate circumstances were that I was going to a game at Pompey. The Hampshire natives were a mite restless back then, due to "boardroom upheaval", and they're not the most impeccably behaved fans at the best of times. I don't recall the opposition, but it was someone unthreatening. I still had reservations.
He loved it.
A half-eaten flying hot-dog splattering a linesman with ketchup as it struck a glancing blow.
Screams and shouts.
Including plenty of "foul language."
It was pretty clear he thought he'd made a mistake in deciding to support Fulham. However, even at the age of eight, he knew Portsmouth was a long way from home and the he couldn't really change allegiance. (Sorry, Steve!)
He did often guiltily ask, "Are you going to Portsmouth again soon?"
I bought him a scarf the next time I took him to Fratton Park and he loved his odd subsequent visit to Pompey, but he grew out of it by the time he was ten or eleven.
He obviously stayed with Fulham as they surged up the leagues. I haven't mentioned Pompey to him for well over a decade.
He's was a quiet kid and he's not a rowdy adult.
I agree with Jake and Paul that the "No swearing" initiative is far more likely to keep kids away than to attract them to sterile games of sub-standard football which, to a far greater extent than the whited sepulchre of the Premier League circus, are utterly meaningless.
Kids these days get bored easily. Seventh-rate football is unlikely to enthrall.
Most "new-style" adult fans don't attend for the athletic ability and skill of the players, so it's hard to imagine kids will be captivated.
On to the topic of attracting those new fans, which is an intriguing one.
As you will be aware, two London non-league clubs have bucked the trend by greatly increasing their attendances in the past few seasons.
They might be said to have done it in diametrically opposite ways. One by recruiting extreme "old-style" football fans; the other by recruiting extreme "new-style" supporters.
In reality, they've both almost certainly done it precisely the same way: flying by the seat of their pants.
The extreme example of new-style "fans" have flocked to Dulwich Hamlet.
It's not an apocryphal tale that many of Dulwich Hamlet FC's "fans" pitched up for the final game of the season last April with no idea that the club most likely needed three points to remain in the top five and make the play-offs.
Many of their (almost exclusively white, male, middle-class, bearded) hipster student types do not turn up at Edgar Kail Way to watch football. They know next to nothing about the game.
They have a pre-match bevvy at a student bar or from a carry out. They bring along their International Brigades / Palestine / Toscana / Che Guevara / Soviet Union / Yugoslavia / ANC / Brigate Rosse flags and banners. (None of these "offend" anyone, obviously.)
They get in for a £5 student rate.
They sing inoffensive ditties... which don't contain profanities.
In a convivial environment that doesn't see them risk being "Blair Peached" by the modern day equivalent of the SPG.
I have no idea how Dulwich Hamlet have quadrupled their gates inside three years.
I have no idea where the extra 450-500 fans per-week that have materialised since they lost the play-off final to Leatherhead in 2011, a season when they usually pulled fewer than 200, have come from.
I doubt if the Dulwich Hamlet board has much idea either.
I certainly doubt that any other club could achieve an attendance boost by attracting hipsters to football, though.
Even though staggering numbers of new "fans" have arrived, significant new sources of financial backing have not.
Despite the notable lack of obscenity on the terraces, nor have many children. I scarcely saw any when watching them play Enfield Town at the back end of last season.
The extreme old-style fans have pitched-up at That Mob in Ruislip.
The average gate at That Mob in Ruislip includes an infeasible number of children. The majority of these are the offspring of middle-class fans. The parents don't have a huge problem with swearing.
The board at That Mob in Ruislip certainly has next to no idea who many of their new fans are or how they really got them.
Though they've put thousands of leaflets and fixture cards through local letterboxes, attempts at finding out how many of the new fans have been attracted by these have proved fruitless. Nevertheless, gates have trebled inside five years.
In the early days of their exponential growth, the "edgy" factor attracted many. Uniquely, That Mob in Ruislip have created an atmosphere recognisable to the fan of the 1970s and 1980s. You know that already.
Fans fed up with being told to sit down, not sing, not carry flags or thermos flasks and being generally ripped off and taken for granted by the Multinational Insolvent Trading Conglomerates of the Premier League and Championship, are attracted to what they recognise as a traditional British football club.
With "foul language."
It goes without saying that, in an ideal world, quite a lot of the practices that attract some of the new support to That Mob in Ruislip are things most of their directors would probably rather do without. We don't live in an ideal world.
In the early days of their expansion, a number of the new fans were people with respectable track records as hooligans. Such fans were clearly attracted by the "edgy" factor and the air of menace which occasionally descends at Wealdstone matches. Some were agog that one or two of the things they witnessed could still be going on at a football stadium in the 21st century.
Recently, though, the newbies have increased more rapidly.
Large numbers of season ticket holders at Watford, QPR, Fulham and Chelsea are turning up when their "real" teams play away. Not much is known about a lot of them.
A discernible contingent of disaffected Hayes supporters has arrived. Ditto.
Ruislip locals with no previous Wealdstone FC connection are backing the team in increasing numbers. The club doesn't have a great deal of idea about them either, in spite of several attempts at research.
Evasive blighters, are fans.
As with just about everyone else who has got into the habit of regularly visiting Grosvenor Vale, they are almost certainly attracted by the partisan atmosphere, which includes profanities and "offensive" comments, even if two-&-a-half years of almost unbroken success has seen the "edgy" factor diminish to the point where it's rarely in evidence at all.
Some fans who've scarcely been to a game since Lower Mead departed have recently resurfaced. Several of these do not attend church on a regular basis. The "edgy" factor is rarely too far away from some of them.
Like Hendon, That Mob in Ruislip are trying to attract new support and "investment."
The demographic of the market being tapped is the same as that Hendon FC is looking at.
They have people on the case.
The universal view is that most prospective new "investors" will not be sympathetic to the "traditional" behaviour exhibited at Lower Mead and at the odd Wealdstone away game in recent seasons.
"Offensive language is not acceptable" placards have been plastered all over the ground.
Many fans - almost all the hardcore and probably an overall majority - find these insulting, patronising and somewhat comical.
It was extremely comical that these placards went up after reports of "homophobic" and "racist" comments in a game v. Whitehawk. Unbelievably, leaflets warning against "homophobic" and "racist" abuse were handed out at the turnstiles in the next home fixture... against Kingstonian and their arch-PC and easily "offended" supporters.
The alleged comments were mild in the extreme. The "homophobic" comments were no worse than I've heard when Hendon played Whitehawk and the alleged "racist" remark was misinterpreted.
Given that, as Paul Butler says, several incidents that might have seen rulebooks propelled by the FA at the speed of light in the direction of Grosvenor Vale have been efficiently swept under the carpet, this was laughable. It got the club some adverse publicity.
Promotion to a new division may bring unwanted problems and more adverse publicity.
The "Do not touch the glass! Do not approach the glass!" rule when Wealdstone are in town is well understood in Ryman circles. It is not so well understood by lairy locals elsewhere.
There are quite likely to be several Connie South clubs with lairy hangers-on that may well fancy some tomfoolery when a large contingent of Wealdstone fans turns up.
The first Saturday Jolly Boys' Outing will be to Gosport.
Risen through the leagues quickly, dodgy area, new followers, local pro team with an A-list firm.
Bound to have a few lairy locals in tow.
Gosport was the one fixture I'd have wanted tucked away on a cold Tuesday night near Christmas. At least Pompey are at home that day.
I'll probably be on an espionage mission elsewhere, but I'd like to go.
The board at That Mob in Ruislip doesn't know who a lot of their new fans are. Or which way they'll be scampering should things go off. They sent out a fairly detailed questionnaire to ST purchasers - and to other regular fans - two seasons back. In spite of repeated requests to return the forms, it didn't got much of a response. (No "offensive" jokes about literacy rates, please.)
And Hendon FC thinks it has problems dealing with Paul Butler.
Knowing their own fans is not something most clubs are good at.
Guessing the preferences of potential recruits to the terraces is more difficult that gauging the mood of existing supporters.
I doubt if anyone at Hendon FC has taken a poll of residents in NW9 to see what their views of "foul language" might be.
It's possibly the the most interesting aspect of the "No swearing" regulation: the questions of whether the Hendon FC Board knows very much about its existing fans and how confident the Hendon FC Board is that a target audience of prospective new fans is out there.
Will a "No swearing" policy produce a net gain or a net loss in attendance terms?
Having lived on Townsend Lane, admittedly more than 20 years back, I'd be extremely doubtful that a target audience exists in the locality of Silver Jubilee Park.
In fact, I'd be slightly more doubtful on the viability of Townsend Lane as a base for a "Community Club" than I am on the similarly doubtful viability of Camrose Avenue, having lived in a street almost opposite the site of Barnet FC's "The Hive" in the late-90s.
If both Barnet FC and Hendon FC switched codes and took up cricket, hockey or kabaddi, things might look more promising.
Almost all board members, at almost all clubs, have nothing more than a vague idea who their fans are. Nor do they have any more of a notion as to what those supporters' preferences might be.
Let's take the two "swingeing devastations" - I don't think that's too strong a phrase - of Hendon FC's support base since the turn of the Millennium.
Can anyone say with any confidence what really caused them?
What tipped the balance in the decisions made by so many regular fans to stop watching Hendon FC?
The first of these mass desertions came in the summer of 2001.
I'm not looking up the stats, as I vaguely remember them. Owing to bad weather and the Claremont Road pitch, Hendon FC played four home league games in the five months between October and February in the 2000/01 season. Eleven home league games were slated from the first week of April until that season ended on the first Saturday of May. (Only ten took place, as the Harrow Borough match wasn't played.)
The previous few seasons had seen steady average gates that were something in the 340-370 area. These were respectable upper-mid-table campaigns with good cup runs. With the team again in mid-table in 2000/01, several of the April home games attracted gates of around one-third of the normal attendance. David Ballheimer's reports are in the Greensnet results archive, for anyone who wants to check the figures.
In late summer 2001, it became obvious that a good 25% or 30% of what had been regarded as a regular and reliable fanbase the previous season had permanently disappeared. Average gates dropped down to 250 or so. This took everyone associated with the club by surprise.
Who were the missing supporters? Why didn't they return? Where did they go?
I don't know. I'd be surprised if anyone on the current Hendon FC Board did either.
I'd guess they simply got out of the habit of attending a football game on Saturday afternoons. Kicking the habit didn't take that long.
"Watching football - is it necessary?"
Probably not, Mickeygee, probably not.
The last season at Claremont Road - 2007/08 - saw an improved average gate. I think it was 274. The five games played in NW2 in August / September 2008 all attracted well over 200 fans.
I remember the Special General Meeting to sign the groundshare agreement with Wembley FC. I remember who asked the question in the Q&A, "What reduction in attendances do you expect as a result of the move to Vale Farm?"
I remember who asked the next question, which was more or less the same question.
Simon looked mildly irked as he twice answered that the Club expected no significant reduction in attendance.
I expected no significant reduction in attendances while the Club played at Wembley and Harrow.
I was wrong.
Again, what was viewed as a relatively minor factor, in terms of its impact on the habits and behaviour of fans, resulted in a drop of more than 30% in attendances. A lot of fans were presumably locals who would take a 15-minute walk to a football game but who didn't fancy a couple of buses or the Piccadilly Line.
I don't know that, though.
I don't know who they were, or where they went on Saturday afternoons once Hendon FC left Claremont Road. I doubt many of them ever came back. I doubt if the Hendon FC Board knows who they were either.
Which brings us to the attraction of Association Football for prospective "fans" who currently don't attend matches, or who may not even like football.
The astounding thing about the rise of football's popularity isn't the undoubted success the game has had in attracting people who didn't like football. It's the fact that possibly the majority of the TV Era fans - including those who go to stadiums - still don't really like football. They know little about the game and have no interest in it, other than as and when it affects their club. Those in stadiums miss the first ten minutes of the second half to buy a burger - or a prawn sandwich - and sneak out five minutes before the end to dodge the traffic.
They attend merely as a relatively safe form of ritualistic tribal affiliation.
Dulwich Hamlet have remarkably reeled-in a lot of these fish, albeit from serendipitously trawling waters that contained a strangely exotic species.
I doubt if any existing "new style" fans watching games elsewhere are going to switch their allegiance to either Hendon FC or That Mob in Ruislip.
One does not require a Ph.D. in Sociology and a Master's from Leicester University's football studies department in order to grasp the situation that, in a depoliticised and irreligious society, football has become the opium of the people.
In an environment where anyone showing signs of dissent from Equalitist ideology will quickly be ostracised from polite society, being a football fan is laughably viewed as being an acceptable form of tribal affiliation. It's harmless... at least to politicians. So long as a hundred or rozzers are on overtime to ensure that no harm is done.
Obviously, being a modern football fan involves submitting to just about every facet of the totalitarian mindset, but if it's in a stadium, rather than on the streets, the powers that be feel safe.
Cheer them to rafters. Excuse every leg-breaking tackle; every dive; every professional foul.
Abuse them at every opportunity. Shout, "Get up you ****!" if one of them breaks a leg.
For good measure, scream at the officials as well.
People feel comforted that they can still enter an environment where morality and the need for any variety of objective thought is not only unnecessary but positively frowned on.
That genuinely scares me.
Unlike "foul language" and "offensive" words.
A "new style" Premier League fan may switch his support for team to team seamlessly, as the clubs involved no longer represent anything meaningful in terms of a community base or a style of play. They're scarcely even a brand name.
It must be pointed out that Association Football is not an activity which the few remaining civilised "communities" in This Pathetic Excuse for a Nation have any genuine desire to be associated with.
Imagine the black population in this country was more than double its current size. Imagine that there was not a single black player amongst the almost 4,000 professional footballers. Hard to envisage, isn't it?
Yet one sector of society, representing around 7% of the population, has, so far as I'm aware, precisely no representation in the ranks of professional players. Around one child in fifteen in the UK attends a fee-paying school. That figure hasn't changed much during the lifetime of the current generation of players. Since Adam Virgo retired last September, I believe there isn't a single ex-public school footballer playing professionally in the UK. For most of Virgo's career, he was the only one.
Why might this be?
We are no longer in the era where a competent lawyer or surgeon earned substantially more than a footballer.
Why has no British Jew played professionally since Barry Silkman retired almost thirty years ago? There always used to be a handful of Jewish players scattered around the leagues.
Why are there almost no Indian professionals?
I'd venture to suggest that people from these sectors of society - possibly the only three relatively substantial demographic groups that still retain both a sense of identity and a level of self-respect - regard the business of football with distaste... at best. At worst, I'd say it was viewed with downright revulsion... regardless of Prime Ministers recalling sitting on the Gallowgate End in the 1960s.
Rightly so, in my opinion. There's no more morally or ethically bankrupt industry on this planet than football.
Civilised people may like watching football as a sport, but they don't want to be associated with either its infrastructure or its business practices.
There's a big difference.
Some members of these communities may enjoy a quick hand shandy whilst watching "Debbie Does Dallas." That doesn't mean they'd be keen on their daughter starring in a sequel.
Nor would they fancy publicly supporting such an enterprise.
"Glistening Glands Films"......... "In association with Sue, Grabbitt & Runne LLP"........ "& M. Bullens-Chaser & Partners"......... "Proudly present"........... "A Russ Meyer Production"........ "Caligula II"
I don't expect to see a sequence of title cards of that nature introducing a movie at a cinema any time soon.
If anyone thinks the reason polite society takes a dim view of football are centred on the language used by spectators, they're entitled to hold that view and to voice it.
However, I could double the length of this post by listing practices and conventions that are endemic in football that would be regarded as repugnant to almost all sections of society.
Many of those practices are not found in any other sport.
Arguably the most off-putting of these is the financial model football clubs adopt.
As I've said on Stonesnet - to the annoyance of some - "investors" in non-league football teams are actually "donors."
They are handing over a gratuity.
They have no realistic prospect of any return on their capital.
Club "sponsors" are basically lining the pockets of the seventh-rate mercenaries who turn-out for the 1st XI. Their money will end up with players, not providing facilities for youth or community football programmes. There are avenues through which money can be channelled by those wishing to support youth and community football. Senior football clubs aren't amongst them.
This is the only country in Europe where players at this level get paid anything other than expenses. In most other countries, many players at this level would be coaching kids alongside turning-out for the 1st XI. Not here.
This situation is why clubs play in their own stadia, rather than slot into a continental model where clubs play in grounds owned by the local authority. Local authorities will not hand ratepayers' money to the likes of Mark Nicholls or Jefferson Louis.
Arguably first amongst the other obnoxious practices is the way the factory system at professional clubs treats kids on their books.
A youth on the books at Surrey CCC or Harlequins RUFC will be put under pressure from the club to succeed in their academic studies. A youth on Chelsea FC's books will be pressured to drop GCSEs and go for lesser qualifications, in order to spend more time on football. Qualifications of Equal Merit, obviously... though no employer would agree.
As I've said, most of the cheating, willy-waving, lack of respect for officials and general behaviour by players on the field is not replicated by participants in any other sport. Those sports where players do practice one of the more unsavoury traits of soccer professionals - for example, baseball and Aussie Rules allow umpire-baiting to a greater degree than soccer - feature them as "stand alone" cultural discretions; not as an all-inclusive package deal.
Respectable people do not wish to be involved in association football.
Foul language is further down the list of reasons why than "driving whilst uninsured" was on Peter Sutcliffe's rapsheet.
As for quoting the FA's regulations on "foul language"... come on, guys!
There is no more unthinkingly orthodox apostle of Equalitist ideology than the FA. They'll do anything to curry favour with either the government or any self-righteous mob.
They won't actively pursue the policy until the self-righteous mob screams... which the self-righteous mob seems to have done at Hendon FC.
The FA's latest self-righteous regulation is banning all gambling on football by all semi-pro players from August 1st. Even though no allegation of match-fixing this century has involved players betting on games.
It's purely a "Something must be done!" move.
They might as well ban players from having a glass of wine with their evening meal as a measure to curtail drunken driving. Hendon FC has at least two players who bet on Ryman Premier games every Saturday and almost certainly many more who gamble on professional football.
Yet no player, manager or club official has raised any public objection to the draconian policy.
The same applies to the FA's self-righteous "Something must be done!" regulation on drug-testing. There is precisely nothing performance-enhancing that would be detected in a sample taken when a player's been dragged away from being with his kids at the park or the zoo on Monday morning, or away from a lunch with his wife on a Friday afternoon, that wouldn't have shown-up if he'd been asked to piss in a bottle in the dressing room at 5:15 on Saturday or 10pm on Tuesday. Yet the FA cynically abuses WADA's anti-doping code in an attempt to deter recreational drug users.
Hugely inconvenienced players don't raise a whisper at a policy that has no impact on its officially stated raison d'etre.
Anyhow, that's more than enough of a rant for now.
I don't believe a prospective football fanbase of ex-members of the National Viewers and Listeners' Association is out there. Either in South Harrow, Kingsbury or elsewhere.
In spite of the publicity the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gained from Messrs. Stone & Parker's amusing musical and their willingness to embrace said production, I doubt the Mormon Tabernacle Choir have become sufficiently at ease with wider society that they'll triple Hendon FC's attendance by turning up en masse at Earlsmead to sing the Greens to victory.
If Mickeygee's tale of potential sponsors being either unaware of football culture or unfazed by it until encountering "foul language" is taken at face value, then I'm wrong.
In some ways, I'd like to think I am.
Somehow, I doubt it.
At the moment, what springs to mind when considering that possibly apocryphal tale is Michael Palin and his "Lion Tamer" hat.
I might be popping along occasionally this season.
I do like a spot of glory hunting, as Paul H. sagely observed.
I glory hunted at Maidstone precisely twice as often as at That Mob in Ruislip last term and I feel there'll be fewer glory-hunting opportunities in HA4 during 2014/15.
Margate look a tempting side to follow in the coming campaign.
May see you soon.
Next article in this thread: Well, that's that thread finished then. (nt) by John11/7/2014 22:51Fri Jul 11 22:51:30 2014
- No swearing at hendon or you are in big trouble by Rupe5/7/2014 03:37Sat Jul 5 03:37:01 2014view thread
- Re: No swearing at hendon or you are in big troubl… by Planet Margate14/7/2014 09:33Mon Jul 14 09:33:17 2014
- Don't Leave Us Paul by Mallorca Don6/7/2014 21:05Sun Jul 6 21:05:35 2014
- foul language by jimsredwhiteand green10/7/2014 11:23Thu Jul 10 11:23:24 2014
- Re: foul language by Mallorca Don15/7/2014 21:30Tue Jul 15 21:30:04 2014
- Re: foul language by Paul Butler16/7/2014 09:57Wed Jul 16 09:57:54 2014
- Re: Don't Leave Us Paul by Paul Butler7/7/2014 00:30Mon Jul 7 00:30:24 2014
- Re: Don't Leave Us Paul by John7/7/2014 13:57Mon Jul 7 13:57:48 2014
- The inconvenient truth by Planet Margate14/7/2014 09:45Mon Jul 14 09:45:50 2014
- Re: Don't Leave Us Paul by Paul Butler7/7/2014 14:43Mon Jul 7 14:43:02 2014
- Re: Don't Leave Us Paul by John7/7/2014 20:47Mon Jul 7 20:47:16 2014
- Re: Don't Leave Us Paul by Tony7/7/2014 15:07Mon Jul 7 15:07:07 2014
- Re: Don't Leave Us Paul by Paul Butler7/7/2014 15:08Mon Jul 7 15:08:29 2014
- Re: No Swearing by Jeff Hill5/7/2014 04:33Sat Jul 5 04:33:48 2014
- Re: No Swearing by Paul Butler5/7/2014 09:26Sat Jul 5 09:26:36 2014
- Re: No Swearing by John5/7/2014 11:58Sat Jul 5 11:58:10 2014
- No Swearing Policy by Jeff Hill5/7/2014 18:36Sat Jul 5 18:36:14 2014
- Re: No Swearing Policy by Paul Butler5/7/2014 19:38Sat Jul 5 19:38:39 2014
- Re: No Swearing Policy by Rupe5/7/2014 21:11Sat Jul 5 21:11:05 2014
- swearing by essex don6/7/2014 09:30Sun Jul 6 09:30:48 2014
- Re: swearing by Paul Butler6/7/2014 09:47Sun Jul 6 09:47:55 2014
- Re: swearing by John6/7/2014 12:34Sun Jul 6 12:34:20 2014
- Re: swearing by John Fordham6/7/2014 18:24Sun Jul 6 18:24:18 2014
- foul language - is it necessary ? by mickeygee6/7/2014 20:13Sun Jul 6 20:13:30 2014
- Re: foul language - is it necessary ? by Jake Osborn 7/7/2014 16:40Mon Jul 7 16:40:55 2014
- Re: foul language - is it necessary ? by John7/7/2014 20:41Mon Jul 7 20:41:07 2014
- Re: foul language - is it necessary ? by Tony6/7/2014 21:42Sun Jul 6 21:42:39 2014
- Re: foul language - is it necessary ? by dw6/7/2014 23:34Sun Jul 6 23:34:14 2014
- Re: foul language - is it necessary ? by mickeygee8/7/2014 08:45Tue Jul 8 08:45:12 2014
- Re: Naive Sponsors. by alan ainsworth8/7/2014 23:05Tue Jul 8 23:05:25 2014
- Re: Naive Sponsors. by mickeygee9/7/2014 00:10Wed Jul 9 00:10:56 2014
- re: Naive Sponsors by alan ainsworth9/7/2014 13:32Wed Jul 9 13:32:28 2014
- Re: re: Naive Sponsors by mickeygee9/7/2014 21:41Wed Jul 9 21:41:45 2014
- Running on the pitch by Dorset Don8/7/2014 12:54Tue Jul 8 12:54:52 2014
- Baffled by John Fordham10/7/2014 09:47Thu Jul 10 09:47:54 2014
- Re: Baffled by Jake Osborn 12/7/2014 14:05Sat Jul 12 14:05:50 2014
- Re: Baffled by Tony12/7/2014 20:40Sat Jul 12 20:40:14 2014
- Re: Baffled by John12/7/2014 21:47Sat Jul 12 21:47:39 2014
- Re: Baffled by Paul Butler10/7/2014 13:13Thu Jul 10 13:13:14 2014
- Re: Baffled by John Fordham10/7/2014 15:42Thu Jul 10 15:42:43 2014
- Re: Baffled by Tony10/7/2014 13:56Thu Jul 10 13:56:20 2014
- Re: Baffled by Paul Butler10/7/2014 14:07Thu Jul 10 14:07:49 2014
- Re: Baffled by Tony10/7/2014 14:25Thu Jul 10 14:25:36 2014
- Please take a look at points 8 and 9 of the attach… by Simon10/7/2014 15:52Thu Jul 10 15:52:41 2014
- Re: Please take a look at points 8 and 9 of the at… by dw11/7/2014 00:36Fri Jul 11 00:36:06 2014
- In addition to which, by John10/7/2014 17:31Thu Jul 10 17:31:46 2014
- Re: In addition to which, by ChrisHFC10/7/2014 20:08Thu Jul 10 20:08:34 2014
- Re: In addition to which, by essex don10/7/2014 20:01Thu Jul 10 20:01:45 2014
- ...In addition to which... by alan ainsworth11/7/2014 19:56Fri Jul 11 19:56:45 2014
- Well, that's that thread finished then. (nt) by John11/7/2014 22:51Fri Jul 11 22:51:30 2014
- Re: Well, that's that thread finished then. (nt) by Paul Butler13/7/2014 21:57Sun Jul 13 21:57:48 2014
- Profanity count. by alan ainsworth13/7/2014 23:35Sun Jul 13 23:35:10 2014
- Re: Profanity count. by Paul Butler14/7/2014 11:15Mon Jul 14 11:15:05 2014
- Re: Rangers v. Hibs by alan ainsworth14/7/2014 15:50Mon Jul 14 15:50:25 2014
- Rangers/Hibs by Plumstead Blue16/7/2014 23:13Wed Jul 16 23:13:22 2014
- re: End by alan ainsworth16/7/2014 23:26Wed Jul 16 23:26:52 2014
- End by Plumstead Blue17/7/2014 22:17Thu Jul 17 22:17:49 2014
- Re: Rangers v. Hibs by Paul Butler14/7/2014 17:19Mon Jul 14 17:19:34 2014