Nine things you don’t see at a football ground any more!
1) Numbered scoreboards where you had to buy a programme to find out what the match was for scores:
With mobile phones, modern-day fans keep an eye on other scores throughout games and no longer does anyone wait with anticipation to the half-time interval when the man in the scoreboard would lift the score tiles into place next to letters of the alphabet corresponding to fixtures listed in your programme.
2) Inflatable bananas:
Inflatables seem to have largely disappeared but for a time in the late 80s/early 90s they brought colour and humour to the stands. Click HERE to see a report on the craze.
In 1987, a Manchester City supporter named Frank Newton brought a five-foot inflatable banana to City’s opening match of the Division Two season against Plymouth Argyle. Numbers grew throughout the season, home and away.
The following season the inflatables had taken over. The hundreds and hundreds of bananas were joined by a giant crocodile, kids’ paddling pools, gorillas, birds and many more. Although bananas were the favourite of Manchester City, a host of other clubs soon adopted their own blow-up variant, including inflatable fish being waved at Grimsby, black puddings at Bury, hammers at West Ham, and Pink Panthers at Stoke.
3) Chalk boards with the winning raffle numbers on being carried around the ground.
Waiting to find out if you had won the half-time raffle used to see the winning number paraded around the pitch on a large chalkboard; but nowadays you need to listen out for a tannoy announcement and keep an eye on an electronic scoreboard if your club has one. With schools also going hi-tech, are chalkboard companies now dead and buried?
4) Cars parked around the pitch:
In these health and safety-conscious times, it’s hard to believe you used to watch Match of the Day and see cars parked around the perimeter of a top level football club like Chelsea as disabled supporters were given a perfect spot. With the speed and power of today’s game, a player could really come a cropper if they finished up crashing into one. No problem, however, for the amazing 70s star Duncan McKenzie, who is famously pictured pitchside at Leeds United showing his talent for leaping right over a Mini!
It’s been many years now since we saw (or heard) the deafening clicking of the old-style football rattles (pictured above), usually painted in your club colours. One assumes these days they would be a health and safety issues with adjacent season ticket holders suing each other for tinnitus. After the rattles came the airhorns and, briefly the vuvuzela, a wind-blown horn which came to the fore at the 2010 South Africa World Cup, but which was also quickly banned. But it is still possible to come home from a game with shattered eardrums when people use piercing whistles to encourage the referee to blow for full time. Click HERE if you have forgotten what rattles sounded like.
6) Journalists with notepads:
In the age of social media, long gone are the days of a row of journalists with shorthand notepads taking notes in the press box and scribbling them into a story they would phone over to their paper’s copytakers at the end. Nowadays some old grounds’ press boxes struggle to fit in laptops on small benches designed to write into notebooks on and journalists now are tweeting and facebooking almost every kick of the game they barely have time to watch.
7) Goalposts with metal rear stanchions that would sometimes make it look like the ball had hit the post rather than gone in:
Click HERE to see Clive Allen find the net and the back stanchion while playing for Palace and the officials missing it. From a difficult angle this was always another headache for the press box as to whether a ball did hit the post or not. Of course now at the top level the journalists have replays from 20 different angles!
8) Twenty-two players with black boots
Football boots used to be practical and sturdy. But in recent years they have become more and more of a fashion statement. Defenders are mesmerised not just by the footwork of tricky wingers, but also the brilliant, vivid rainbow shades of their boots flashing towards them. The boots have also become lighter and more moulded to the foot. But you really ought to be good enough to carry off brightly coloured boots. On Sunday League grounds for many years, those players were the first to get kicked. St Mirren winger Gary Teale took it to new levels with odd boots – click HERE
9) Standing up at many grounds:
The Taylor report post-Hillsborough saw top level grounds told to go all-seater and a whole generation of young fans have missed out on the chance to jump up and down and move around during games. It may have made grounds a little safer, but it has also killed off the atmosphere at many games. Games felt like gigs for many years and you were all one. There is still a strong movement among fans to get at least part of grounds restored to terracing. The move to all-seater stadia signalled the start of the era where the working man on the terraces could no longer afford to go when being asked to pay more for a seat he didn’t want. It also saw an end to a terrace culture at top flight football which had included the less savoury aspect of hooliganism for the minority – click HERE for some terrace culture memories.
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