PARTY tricks are portrayed as a great social unifier. The thinking goes that, in situations with unfamiliar people, a good party trick can impress a crowd, show off your personality and enable you to make new friends.
The reality can be somewhat different. For example, one old friend from Bristol was known for being able to down a pint in six seconds.
Being around him and seeing how requests to perform his ‘trick’ were met with politeness then weariness, it became clear that greatness can indeed be thrust upon some.
My own party trick was slightly different. With a reputation as a football obsessive that preceded me, some people would take the opportunity to ‘test’ my knowledge – like a self-appointed Bradley Walsh. While these questions never extended beyond naming the winners of bygone World Cups or domestic competitions, demonstrating the ability to name all the FA Cup winners from the 1970s provoked looks of incomprehension similar to the one worn by Monty Panesar during his appearance on Mastermind. It goes without saying I was not a popular child.
This links into the curious role football history holds within the younger generations of football fans.
It is natural that every generation believes they are living in the height of cultural nirvana – after all, who would want to admit that their parents had it better? However, with football this idea is intensified. It seems increasingly unchallenged that football has never been as exciting as it is now, the quality of play is unsurpassed and records achieved now consequently hold greater significance.
It’s as if a generation of fans are drunk on Premier League and Champions League hype.
In all honesty, football is almost a different sport to previous decades. For example, the 1960s were an era where even Tottenham Hotspur could win the title. Technological advances in diet, pitch maintenance, stadium safety, sportswear manufacturing and competition structure means the game is superficially unrecognisable from before.
Therefore, attempts to compare different periods fall at the first hurdle – you are not equating things on a balanced level. Discussions with two housemates last year illustrated this point.
To them, it was unquestionable that Lionel Messi is the best footballer of all time.
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