als home






visit those nice people at ready to go

Football… Top Breeders Recommend It

In the 1990s, association football has become as popular as it has been for many years, but why? Well, there are a number of reasons, normally invoking arguments of newfound family image and recommendations of the Taylor Report. These ring very true, though there are many other factors to take into account which can be measured and calculated quite easily. This has nothing to do with the fact that the clever boffins at the FA have been following the game very closely and is not because some highly intelligent mathematicians at Cambridge have worked out the answer through computer modelling. It’s simply because it happened on a much larger scale.

Association football as we know it, was developed back in 1863 following its previous maintenance by Public Schools. In a clever piece of foresight in 1862, the Clarendon Commission issued a report backing the introduction of football as a sport for the masses, subsequently leading to the ‘teaching’ of football in many schools and the formation of inter school leagues in 1864. Essentially, football developed in the mid to late nineteenth century as an entertainment for the masses, because it was seen and encouraged by the upper and middle classes as a civilised alternative to the normal rowdy and drunken working class pursuits such as bare knuckle boxing (leading to drunken riots) and ratting (leading to drunken riots). Indeed, the alehouse as a leisure pursuit for the working classes was so popular in the late eighteenth century, that in Sunderland’s High Street East, there were 48 alehouses.

Following the effective birth of football in 1863, teams eventually began to develop from humble beginnings and took over from the public school teams that already existed. The butchers of Sheffield, whose working commitments meant they only play on Wednesday, the church team of Everton and, of course, on 17th October 1879, the teachers of Sunderland, all developed and grew into big clubs. Imagine your old English teacher playing for Sunderland. The mind boggles. Fuelled by upper class encouragement, the growth of football in the late nineteenth century was far bigger than the resurgence of the game in the latter part of this century. There are many reasons for both surges in popularity, but the over-riding factor is commercialisation. Good old cash. With the game becoming a key form of entertainment amongst the masses, the players had to take time off work to play for their teams and had to be subsidised for lost earnings, thus leading to professionalism.

The increasing attendances had to be catered for too and at the turn of the century, sports stadia like Roker Park were appearing all over the country, sending attendances soaring up to, and after the Great War. The first cup final to be played at Wembley, the White Horse final in 1923, attracted more than 120,000 people and fans sat at the side of the pitch, turning the game into a farce, as they tripped wingers when they raced past.

In the last decade, the introduction of seats has also had an effect on football’s popularity. Not only is it considered safer by the authorities for distributing tickets and identifying criminals, it is also supposed to prevent tragedies like Hillsborough, which ultimately led to the introduction of seating. When spectator attendance was at its peak (pre ‘60s), working class spectators stood on the terracing and higher classes used most of the seating that existed. Terracing was cheap and it made it easier to fit more people into the arena. In the past decade, post Hillsborough, and in the aftermath of the violent ‘70s and '80s, seating has been installed and the atmosphere in football grounds has become less hostile. This makes the visitor feel safer and more comfortable, meaning that families and ‘part-timers’ are more attracted to the game of football.

Such events run almost in parallel with those of the turn of the century, when music halls became popular as a form of evening entertainment. Perhaps the closest equivalent now is a nightclub. Imagine doing a waltz in Annabels. As the popularity of music halls increased there were more and more incidents of rowdiness and unrest. Seats were installed to control the visitor’s behaviour and it proved to be a roaring success. Not only did it offer an area to relax when not dancing, it succeeded in its aim of controlling any violence that might occur. If you think this sort of thing doesn’t happen nowadays, a London pub recently banned patrons from drinking on their feet. The similarities to the switch from football terracing to seating are clear, with the probable exception that you don’t get miserable gits behind you telling you to sit down in music halls.

Although it is impossible to completely stereotype football fans and indeed, the pursuits of different classes, you now know that when you go to the pub, have a drink, go to the match, then go for a drink again, you are following traditions that your forefathers and working class men have been participating in for many years. The reason you drink in pubs is because there was nothing else to do 200 years ago and the activity has continued to the present day. The reason you watch the match is because it is (was) seen by the upper classes to be more socially acceptable, to them, than more violent and provocative sports like cock fighting and bare knuckle boxing and the reason that the football game has become a less hostile sport to follow in the last ten years is because seats provide a calmer environment.

Mark Tearney

With thanks to Stuart Miller

S&C Tramps XI

Armani, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Burtons. These are just some of the top fashion names that many of the current Premiership stars have modelled for. There’s also a percentage of ugly bastards around as well, just look at the Beardsleys and Dowies of this world and you’ll see what I mean. However, it cannot be argued that the media has something like an obsession with clean cut, handsome fashion models that ponce around pretending to play football, while secretly only worrying about their manicure appointment or the mud getting in their freshly blond highlights. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of this breed of Spice Boy. They go around pretending they’re pop stars and if you see a speck of mud on any of them at a quarter to five on a Saturday afternoon, I’ll give you a fiver out of my own pocket.

So we’re decided to honour the ugly bastards, praise the pongy players and worship the unwashed. There are plenty of stinky footballers and I feel that, instead of shunning them from the limelight in embarrassment, we should be celebrating these smelly specimens. So what if they stink? So what if they’ve never changed their underpants for six months? Who cares if they have more in common with some tramp called Old Tom, who wanders around Sunderland City Centre, with four cans of Special Brew in his Mac pocket shouting obscenities at shocked old women? Clip on your nosepegs and have your air freshener at the ready, as we introduce to you the filthiest, foul smelling individuals that have ever kicked a football…Trampmere Rovers.


Neville Southall – The famous tash ensures that Big Nev makes the Tramps selected eleven. Used to be a builder or bin man or something, he’s scruffy and likely to have a builder’s bottom to boot. This man actually shagged someone else other than his wife. Can you believe that? Imagine how his wife feels, being rejected by Neville Southall. Poor woman.

Right Back

Danny Tiatto – Not many people will know who this person is, but he plays for Stoke City. I know he’s in the squad because, when we played Stoke last season I ended up sitting near the front of the East Stand and could still smell him on my clothes a week after the game. However, it turned out he wasn’t actually a tramp at all, but a professional footballer who just looked dirty.

Left Back

Simon Grayson – The Villa fullback is another of the dirty defenders. Looks quite similar to Steve Claridge and, in my opinion, has a face that permanently indicates that someone has just kicked him up the arse. That doesn’t make him a tramp, it just makes him look stupid. However, it cannot be argued that he looks decidedly dirt laden. Plus, when I had my paper round, one Sunday I stopped to read about his ‘imminent’ transfer to Sunderland. As I was reading, in the rain, the old woman whose paper it was, came rushing out of her house, grabbed the soggy Sunday paper, clipped me around the ear and said she was going to ring the newsagent. She did and I was subsequently sacked. And he didn’t even sign for us, so he’s definitely in the team.

Centre Half

Darren Peacock – No explanation needed. Any professional footballer who looks like Neil off the ‘Young Ones’ on a bad hair day, deserves to be in a team like this on merit. Rumoured to live in a caravan with flowers painted on the side.

Centre Half

Brian ‘Killer’ Kilcline – Far from being a ‘Killer’, Brian was indeed nothing more than a pussycat in wolf’s clothing. Despite his hard man image, he’s going in because he had, and probably still has, the crappest, curliest, blondest hair ever to see the light of day. Actually, he probably is a tramp now, as he plays for Halifax. He is also a big puff, and I don’t mind saying that because he doesn’t know where I live.

Right Midfield

Nicky Summerbee – Now, to everyone who might fancy Nicky, please accept my deepest apologies. But there is absolutely no getting away from the fact that he is the scruffiest looking Sunderland player. I think he’s a good footballer, before people start, it’s just hat he always looks really messy and, in my opinion, he is the secret lovechild of Rodney Trotter and Jimmy White. Anyone who bears the remotest likeness to them deserves inclusion.

Central Midfield

Neil Readfearn – Big Yorkshireman, needs a shave, looks quite hard. It all adds up to only one thing… he is to be the central midfield kingpin of Trampmere. He is currently unhappy at Charlton, although the club are keeping schtum over the reason why. However, ALS can exclusively reveal that the reason for Readfearn’s unhappiness has nothing to do with football. It is, in fact, concerned with the club’s failure to negotiate a sponsorship deal with Carlsberg, which would’ve netted Neil a cool 14 cans of Special Brew a day for three years. This incident comes just days after he was heard shouting “They just don’t understand me… they’re trying to make me live in proper house! I mean, what’s the matter with this park bench here?” at a complete stranger in a park near The Valley. Middlesbrough are reportedly monitoring developments closely.

Left Midfield

Alan Foggon – Fat, crap and in a time where players were given a special allowance for scruffiness, namely the 70’s, he really started to take liberties with his constantly below par appearance. He had crap long, greasy hair, he made Jan Molby look like a stick insect and he really just wasn’t very good. Foggon was the only player I can think of who played for all of the North East big three: Sunderland, Newcastle and Seaham Red Star (only kidding – Middlesbrough). It doesn’t make him any more tramp-like, I just thought I’d mention it.

Centre forward

Steve Claridge – As he is one of the main reasons for the inventions of this team, I think it’s only fair to let him join the squad. A self-confessed gambling addict who admitted to gambling away sums of money most of us can only dream about, he now plays for Portsmouth and, judging by their financial predicament, he’ll be soon living in Cardboard City. Has actually taken the image of looking scruffy and made it into an art form, complete with rolled down socks and hair that’s so unkempt, it makes Nicky Summerbee’s barnet look like Prince William’s. Pipped only by the ridiculously dirty Danny Tiatto for the captaincy. Rumoured to smell like the elephant’s bit in a zoo.

Inside Right

Marco Boogers – The ironic thing a bout Boogers is that, despite the lightheartedness and humour of this article, he is probably really sleeping on park benches in Holland, drinking cans of Heineken Braintumour or some such beer. Booger’s briefly stayed at West Ham before being declared mentally unfit to play football and went back to Holland in a huff, living in a clapped out caravan in a big field and, to my knowledge, hasn’t been seen since. My outstanding memory of this bloke is the things he never achieved as a pro footballer, such as shaving, cutting his hair, washing any part of his body or changing his clothes. Nutter.

Inside Left

George Best – Class footballer, drink problem, couldn’t see his face for the facial hair, say no more. Even then he still pulled Miss Worlds… how? My Business Studies teacher had a similar, massive beard and couldn’t pull his pants up properly, let alone pull stunning women. Explain that one to me, will you.

Al Coholic

back to the S&C archive menu


s&c issue 7

The S&C Archives























All material ©copyright ALS Publications and may not be reused without permission
ALS Publications exists to provide a platform for all Sunderland supporters to voice their opinion
As such, views expressed are those of individual contributors and do not represent those of the editors