Now I’m not sure if there’s a debate here about determinism and free will,
Or whether there’s just some sort of reflection on 40 years spent going to the match,
That LS Lowery feeling of being lost in a crowd,
That loss of sense of self that meant strangers were friends
And friends were never strangers,
For all was empathy and understanding,
And the boot was never on the other foot.
And you can talk as much Sociology, Psychology or Philosophy as you like,
But the reason you trudged fortnightly to the game
Was because you enjoyed it and because, really,
How could you do anything different?
Who would do anything different?
You went because you loved the game,
And because you had loyalty to your mates,
And because you had a loyalty to your home town,
And because you had loyalty to your team,
And because the team was your town and your town was your team,
And because really your team was you and you were your team
And so you were your town and your town was you
In a syllogistic spiral that counted for nothing when you put your scarf on –
For the minute wage differences that existed in a one industry town,
And the fact that footballers didn’t earn much more than anyone else,
Meant that a happy commonality and solidarity suffused the town of Swindon!
And so you never imagined that your carefully choreographed movement
To and from the ground through the red-brick terrace streets of England
Was like some sort of scene from The Wasteland,
Nor did you see it as some sort of extension
Of typical male industrial working class historic traditions,
So that even when you were wearing the height of mod fashion,
You were in fact an anachronism,
For who would think like that?
Nor did you think, when you carefully read your programmes at half time,
Or when you re-read them at home,
Or swopped them, or used them,
So as to build up a store house of memory and fact and knowledge
About every facet and aspect of the game of Football
That you were, in fact, following in the footsteps of working class autodidacts,
The people who caught a glance at the classics within the rhythm of the pistons,
Or studied art or poetry or philosophy behind the foreman’s back
Or beneath the chief clerk’s nose or by the ganger’s shovel,
Or by the candle in the attic;
And now just think, how many brilliant minds there were,
In that faceless crowd of so-called untutored intellect,
Living lives that The News Of The World never ever dreamed of.
Where are they now?
Bed-time ramblings after reading the brilliant “The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes” by Jonathan Rose – Yale U.P. ISBN – 0-300-09808-1 £12. .99