Ear Candy: Football Ruined My Life

Ear Candy: Football Ruined My Life

Thursday, 9th March 2023
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A new podcast argues that football was better in the good old days, but Harry Bennett wants to hear more about why

Football may still be “the beautiful game”, but it has seen some ugly modern developments. That is why author Colin Shindler, journalist Patrick Barclay and football agent Jon Holmes have donned their rose-tinted glasses for a nostalgic look at the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in a new podcast: Football Ruined My Life.

This was a time, says Shindler, “when football represented everything hopeful and optimistic in our lives”, and wasn’t full of “bile and spite, too much money and everyone behaving badly”.

Episode 1, Our Childhood Heroes, kicks off their retro punditry about players, games and tournaments that often entails impressive feats of memory.

And they only get more impressive in episode 2, which compares England’s World Cup-winning team in 1966 with the 1970 line-up. Key substitutions are recalled plus their specific strengths: the crosses of West Germany’s right winger Jürgen Grabowski proved to be the difference, according to Barclay, as England lost by one goal in five.

But although such details help colour the nostalgia trip, it’s not all that interesting or entertaining for Millennials like me. Add to that its loose structure and at times I feel like I’m listening to a boring uncle rambling on about the good old days.

Even so, I don’t blame them. Those pre-pay-TV days do sound better. And the podcast is at its strongest when our three hosts explain why.

Of particular interest to Television readers will be their remarks on the medium’s impact. Holmes reckons that, before football received saturation coverage on TV, most people fell in love with the live game at their local ground. Nowadays, most fans are introduced via the screen, which dilutes any sense of place.

The point is part of a larger theme of the podcast: globalisation. “Football is no longer a local game but a global game,” says Shindler. This has been brilliant for business while robbing the game of its local charm and innocence.

For those who miss that innocent game, Football Ruined My Life will be a pleasant reminder. But probably not for those of us who don’t know what we’re missing.

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