| 17.8°C Dublin

Once I hear that familiar tune start up, I'm back to being a young boy again

In a week which brought more horrors from the Middle East, with pictures emerging of the seven-year-old son of an Isis barbarian, proudly holding the severed head of a Yazidi civilian, there wasn't much cause for cheer in the news.

You could, if you so wished, scare yourself stupid at the prospect of the Ebola virus gaining a foothold on a larger scale - don't expect any TV station to screen either Contagion or Outbreak any time soon, by the way - but amid all that gloom there was at least some cause for optimism. Yes folks, the Premier League is back.

Just over a month ago we saw the end of one of the best World Cup tournaments in living memory and now we're back, hurtling headlong into the ongoing circus that surrounds the most exciting league in the world.

QUALITY

It may not be the best in terms of sheer quality, but for drama and talking-points, it's hard to beat.

Naturally, there are always detractors who'll complain that the game isn't the same as it was years ago, with the likes of Chelsea and the Manchester clubs spending vast amounts of money on players who live lives of what seems to be unimaginable luxury.

However, by comparison with the deals paid to top stars in American sports, the Premier League lads are only in the ha'penny place, a debate probably best continued in a high-stool environment.

Another aspect of the return of the footie is that whatever about TV viewing not being the same as it was, what with deferred footage, watching on-line, streaming and whatever else you're having, there's something utterly reassuring about switching on BBC1 of a Saturday night and hearing the iconic theme tune to Match of the Day (inset), particularly on the opening day of the season.

That piece of music by Barry Stoller - a man who didn't even like football, as it turns out - really brings out the little boy in men of a certain age.

When I hear it, I'm brought back to being old enough to be trusted to bring back fish'n'chips from Burdock's without getting killed crossing Bride Street and I'm sure most of you have your own little twinge of nostalgia when you hear it too.

Believe it or not, Match of the Day celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, with a documentary this coming Friday marking the date.

This is a must for fans, taking us through the decades of the show but I'd fancy a wager that the footage of the matches from the 1970s will feature more prominently than the other ten-year spans.

Anyone under the age of 30 must gaze in awe at the images of men with prominent sideburns, several of whom look distinctly overweight by today's standards, performing feats of skill which resemble badly-ploughed fields while midfield enforcers attempt to dismember them.

A just-published photo book presents unforgettable images of the game around the world from that decade and goes by the title, The Age of Innocence - Football in the 1970s. But was the game really that innocent back then?

The heaving terraces, the riots and hooliganism, the racist chanting aimed at the growing number of black players hardly marks the period out as one of peace and harmony.

What could be said to have been lost since then though is the sense of community felt between the people on the pitch and those in the stands.

But life goes on and those days certainly aren't coming back. That said, you can look forward to a warm glow while the real thing unfolds once again. Bring it on!


Privacy