Falling out of (and in) love

by Chris Bertram on March 29, 2005

I spent Sunday afternoon at Bristol’s Memorial Ground watching the “Bristol Shoguns”:http://www.bristolrugby.co.uk/10_5.php demolish the Exeter Chiefs and thereby edge closer to promotion to the “Zurich Premiership”:http://www.zurichrugby.co.uk/partners/index.shtml . Great fun, an entertaining performance, a good atmosphere, a diverse crowd, a chance to stand together on the terraces, home and away fans mixed together and exchanging friendly chat, a programme with the head coach’s telephone number there for all to see, a pint of beer with the game if you like, and a ticket you can buy without having to sell the children into slavery … I could go on. I’ve watched Bristol four times this season, “Leicester”:http://www.leicestertigers.com/3_8.php once and England (v Scotland) once. In the same period I’ve not been to a single game of football (though I’ve watched a few games on the telly). Why? Aggressive atmosphere, crowd segregation, surly stewards, beer illegal, expensive tickets, cheating players, arrogant managers, and, above all, the fact that a Russian billionaire has made sure that the whole competition is sown up before the start. The downside? I think few rugby players can do things quite as breathtaking as Denis Bergkamp or Ronaldinho can (though Geordan Murphy can be exciting). But the bullshit and the money around football have just depressed me too much this season. This could be a long-term switch.



dsquared 03.29.05 at 11:10 am

As a service to all CT readers experiencing disillusion with football, I’d just like to pass on the information that horse races run on pretty much every day of every week, the tickets are cheap, you can have a meal and a drink, and the race is always worth watching.


jamie 03.29.05 at 11:38 am

I agree that football’s choking itself to death on it’s own surpluses, so to speak.

But rugby union? I mean, it’s not even Rugby League. Also, club names like the Bristol Shoguns and the Exeter Chiefs seems to indicate a sport that’s sold itself out a little too cheaply.


Kieran Healy 03.29.05 at 11:41 am

it’s not even Rugby League

You mean it has a running and a kicking game, instead of charge-tackle, charge-tackle, charge-tackle?


Chris 03.29.05 at 11:43 am

I’m sure that League is a fine game, but unless you live within a 50 mile (to put it generously) radius of St. Helens (or in some parts of Australia) there’s not much chance to watch except on the telly.


Danny 03.29.05 at 12:23 pm

a Russian billionaire has made sure that the whole competition is sown up before the start

For the last few years the competition was limited to the ‘New Firm’ of Arsenal and Man United. So now there’s a new kid on the block. I think it’s pretty exciting.


jamie 03.29.05 at 12:45 pm

Chris – fair point. But Union as a spectacle just looks like a group of hypetrophied toddlers thrwoing a tantrum in a mud pit. I guess I’m just not that disillusioned with football yet.


Jo 03.29.05 at 2:42 pm

This couldn’t have anything to do with your own team no longer even being the best in Liverpool? No, I thought not.


matt 03.29.05 at 3:33 pm

As an American who played both rugby and football (soccer) in college I recall the saying:

“Soccer is a gentlemen’s sport played by ruffians and Rugby is a ruffian’s sport played by gentlemen.”

My experience in both games proved this saying quite true.


Chris Bertram 03.29.05 at 4:23 pm

Jo, for the moment I shall just be content to point out that the score was 2-1 and that the season is not yet over.


ogmb 03.29.05 at 4:25 pm

Chris disses the commercialization of football and links to the main sponsors of the Zurich Premiership?


Juke Moran 03.29.05 at 7:55 pm

Abramovitch isn’t precisely a “Russian billionaire” is he? He’s British now, right?
And he’s made sure the whole competition is sewn up before the start, I believe is what you meant.
As contradistinct to having spread the seeds of competition hither and yon – he’s stitched it up in advance of the game’s being played.


Davis X. Machina 03.30.05 at 12:45 am

I know us ignorant Americans are prone to confuse ‘English football’ with ‘Premiership’, but for a local boy to do so?

Hie ye over to Ashton Gate!


dsquared 03.30.05 at 1:56 am

I suppose that if you get tired of watching Bristol Shoguns and you do decide to sell the children into slavery, you’re in the right town :-).

By the way, “Shoguns”? What’s the Bristol/Japan connection?


Chris 03.30.05 at 2:58 am

Ashton Gate costs twice as much, and the spectacle available is … well, crap.

I think the “Shoguns” comes from Mitsubishi sponsorship.

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