You hear people moaning about modern football and how the game isn’t as good as it used to be. It can be very easy to look back on the past with rose-tinted spectacles, but doing so overlooks how many people are in love with football right now. The number of people who go to games, watch it on TV, and who spend far too many hours every day reading and talking about the game indicates that there is still a huge passion for football.
You may get a bit annoyed at the wages and celebrity of some players these days, but when you see Lionel Messi drift beyond players before scoring and then smiling, you can’t help but fall in love with the game all over again. Okay, Messi is arguably the best player in the world these days (sorry Cristiano), but there is something for fans at every level, everywhere around the world.
You will have some fans turning their nose up at Scottish football, pointing out that it is a lower standard of football than you find in England or in many countries in Europe. However, when Celtic won the Scottish Cup final in May 2017, clinching a treble and going through their domestic season undefeated, football fans around the world would have been pleased to have witnessed the scenes of joy and celebration on the stands around Hampden Park. There is an iconic video clip of goalkeeper Craig Gordon on his knees celebrating the injury-time winner while the crowd erupts in the background.
Fans love a home-grown youngster in their team
Add in teenage defender and life-long fan of the club Kieran Tierney rushing back from the hospital after having his jaw broken to lift the cup and it was a day that reminded fans of what football is all about. No matter how often you win, it can be exhilarating, and even for fans who see their side lose more often than they win, the sweetness of victory is addictive and can keep you going. It also more than justifies some of the bad days that football fans have to contend with.
There is definitely something about the connection when a player is also a fan of their club. In the modern day, this is becoming a rarity at the top end of the game, but as we move down throughout the leagues, there is a stronger connection between fans and players. This is a big factor in why non-league football is thriving in recent times.
There is still a magic to the FA Cup
Yes, the money at the top end of the game means that the gap between the haves and have-nots is wider than it has ever been, but this doesn’t change the feelings that fans have just from being close to their favourite players or seeing their team in person. There is a genuine level of excitement about supporting your team, and the sense of joy that we had as children is still present when watching your team.
Of course, while the gap between the rich and the poor gets bigger, this means that upsets or culture clashes are even more tantalising for football fans. The 2017 FA Cup may have ended up with an Arsenal triumph, stopping Chelsea from doing the double, but for many football fans, it was a tournament when the magic of the Cup came back to the fore.
The run of Sutton FC, overcoming AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United before being rewarded with a tie against Arsenal, reminded many people of how exciting and unique football is at non-league level. The sight of players such as Theo Walcott and Alexis Sánchez stepping onto the field in this cramped stadium with excited fans packed into the stands was a reminder of what made us all fall in love with football. In the end, the class of Arsenal made the difference, but it was only a 2-0 victory for the FA Premier League side, and the non-league side gave a very good account of themselves on a match that was shown live on the BBC.
Sutton’s reserve goalkeeper also made a name for himself that night, and while not everyone likes to gamble on football, it is part and parcel of the modern game. Some of the best sports betting sites UK fans can choose from only enhance interest in the game, ensuring that there is something to cheer for in every match.
For millions of fans, football isn’t just a sport; it’s part of life. As fans, we are invested in our team and our favourite players, being elated when we win and deflated when we lose. However, no matter how bad a defeat hurts, the next game provides the chance of redemption, and the fact that you can always bounce back in football is a big reason why we all love the game so much.