A History of the World in a Dozen Objects: Number 12 - Cups and Tickets
At 19.45 BST (18.45 GMT) tonight Manchester United will take on Barcelona at Wembley Stadium in what may well be the most watched sporting event of the year: The EUFA Champions League Final. The last time these two met in a final, in Rome two years ago the World tv audience of 109 million knocked the Super Bowl off the top of the ratings charts for the first time in living memory.
There were a lot of disgruntled football fans this year however, as the date FA Cup Final was moved to accommodate the Champions League. This meant that on the day Manchester City won The FA Cup, their neighbours Manchester United stole at least some of the glory by winning the Premiership.
Times have changed a lot in recent years. The FA Cup used to be the Jewell in the Football Association's (FA) crown. It was the major football competition in England and there is a case for saying in the World. When I was young, it would be one of very few games live on television. Continuous coverage would start at eight in the morning for a match that would kick off at three in the afternoon. The FA Cup was huge.
The items photographed here are my dad's ticket and programme from when my team Charlton won the FA Cup in 1947. Eight years before the European Cup (the more accurately titled Predecessor of the Champions League) was invented. 100,000 people watched live in the stadium and millions more would have listened live on radio. The game was broadcast live on television, but as there were only three people in the world with with television sets then, it would be more meaningful to count the number of people who missed the game due to pre-match alcoholic excess.
Today, the FA cup has firmly been relegated down the ranks as the games governing bodies have sought out competitions that concentrate power (and money into the hands of the few). Hence we see the monotony of the same few clubs appearing in the same over-hyped competitions again and again.
As the teams take to the pitch tonight the world body FIFA is in constitutional crisis over allegations of corruption. The view of most football fans here is that is the European body EUFA is also totally corrupt and that the English body, The FA, is totally completely and utterly incompetent and not above corruption itself. I find it hard to disagree with them. Bitter me?
Sorry, I was going to write about the history of sport in general and football in particular. About how important it is to modern civilisation, about how games developed and were codified. How the moved from being participative to being huge spectator events. Unfortunately, I got caught up in a disjointed rant about how the game is (in my opinion) going down hill. If anyone is interested though that information is all on the internet. Then again if anyone's interested, you probably already know it.