There are lots of good things about growing old. Firstly, of course, is the old cliché about it beating the alternative.
But there are lots of bad things about it too.
And among the worst of them is the tendency of old people – like me – to blather on about how things were much better in the past.
Well, some things.
I used to quite like soccer – despite being reared on rugby.
In fact, this year marks 58 years since I first started following Manchester United.
I still kind of do.
But I’ve gone off soccer a bit because, well it was much better in the past.
How can I say that?
Here’s ten reasons.
1 There never used to be diving like there is today. God almighty, it’s not even convincing. The only people who actually seem to believe that the players, who hit the deck like they’ve been shot, have been fouled are referees and commentators.
2 Then there’s the feigning injury. Every time a player is tackled, he or indeed she, seems to be required to roll around in pain holding some part of his or her anatomy. I cannot remember legends like Denis Law or Jimmy Greaves doing that even when they were tackled by the likes of Norman Hunter or Billy Bremner.
3 I don’t get the abuse of referees and why it isn’t stopped. A few red cards and that would be the end of it. But it seems that players can call referees anything they like any time they like without sanction. You sure as hell wouldn’t get that in rugby. Even if the referee is a f**kin’ eejit. Which they often are.
4 And it’s all over analysed these days too. Do we really need former footballers standing at big screens moving players around as if they’re animated characters in some computer game?
5 Do we need two commentators at every match? The general rule seems to be one commentator with a poshish accent and one former footballer with a regional accent.
6 And as for the constant trotting out of statistics “the first red haired Lithuanian born player to score in the second half for a team based in London for six months and four days.”
7 The managers roaring on the sideline. Again, it’s not something I remember Matt Busby or Bill Nicholson doing.
8 The haircuts and the tattoos are way over the top too. Indeed, that particular disease is affecting all sport including rugby. Tattoos all over the shop, silly hair cuts. And even man buns. Having a man bun should be a yellow card offence.
9 As for the post match interviews. You could script them. It’s the same nonsense after every game.
10 Finally, there’s that VAR nonsense. Soccer is played by humans and even if they are, in general, on the thick side, it should be refereed by humans too. Same goes for rugby. Part of the joy of sport used to be – and still is I suppose – giving out yards about referees. Now we have to give out yards or, in the case of the application of the offside rule in soccer, millimetres, about VAR and the TMO.
There are good things though.
I can write a blog whinging and moaning and complaining and stick it up online and nobody can stop me.
Back in the day, if I tried that in a pub, I’d just be told to shut the f**k up.