A Clockwork Half-Time Orange - A Dystopian Vision Of Modern Football In England

by J.S. Leatherbarrow

What’s it going to be then, eh?

I could eulogise, rhapsodize & mythologise about how perfect football was in a bygone era. However, I’m not a rose-tinted spectacle wearing type of a droog.

Football was awash with homophobia, racism, sexism and hooliganism. On the other side of the same coin, we have seen football taken further & further away from the working classes and the communities that built it.

We have sleepwalked into a dystopian, grotesque, warped, nightmare, of Orwellian proportions. “From tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow.” Only these oaks have grown into super-glowing, giant freaks in a radiation zone after a catastrophic nuclear event.

Russian doll-house thinking - I’m going to strip it down as far as possible to the last doll in their separate rooms.

So welcome little droogies to A Clockwork Half-Time Orange - A Dystopian Vision Of Modern Football In England. It’s time for a little ultra-violence.

Chapter 1 - Sky Sports

Sky Sports are the main offenders. They have presented us with a big shiny apple that, when you bite into it, is not only poisoned - but rotten to the core. I could write chapter & verse on them, but I’ll keep it cocktail length for now.

They are far from the only succubi - but have done more than anyone to change perceptions of football being colourful & something to actually enjoy.

Why? Pundits & advertising.

Some of the analysis is very good (i.e. Gary Neville) but it is so serious and sombre. This was always inevitable as the game became increasingly professional & less boozy. We have ended up with Everestianally aggressive hyper-winners. They have sucked the joy out of the game. They have peddled the lie that winning is the only thing that matters in football & that is as bleak as the Yorkshire Moors in the dead of winter.

The Brazilian genius Sócrates said that "Beauty comes first. Victory is second. What matters is joy." Gary Neville & Jamie Carragher’s version of that maxim is “Victory is first. Nothing else matters.”

They sit in a studio with expressions of pall-bearers at the funeral of the game itself - mourning mistakes and running a thousand Samurai swords through the tiniest of errors. They teach us that only winning matters - anything else & you are a Trumpian loser! They would have had this drilled into them at their clubs. Be professional. Win. Always win. The problem with this is that it has hammered into a generation a love of winning & the status that brings instead of a pure love of the game itself.

Sky have also perpetuated the myth of the Premier League & the Champion’s League being the be-all-and-end-all of football. It makes sense as it is their product & they need to sell it.

But - but - but.

The advertising has become so pretentious it is utterly ridiculous. The slogans have had their cue taken from American sports marketing. The whole “This Is Your Destiny. This is your time to claim greatness - will you take it - or will you fall at the last hurdle?” All set to a dubstep soundtrack. “Your time” - it’s West Brom v Stoke on a Tuesday night.

Football has always been important - but when did it stop being fun? That type of punditry & advertising is joyless & grim. You feel like you are sitting in a prison cell doing a 20-stretch with no window to look out of.

So basically - thanks Sky Sports - you utterly joyless peddlers of humourless po-faced seriousness. Give me the fucking joy back.

Words by J.S. Leatherbarrow - Artwork by FATC - All Rights Reserved

J.S. Leatherbarrow