Originally posted on Jeff Goulding:

The Kop Gerrard Tribute The Kop Gerrard Tribute

This article by me was published first on http://www.thisisanfield.com

‘It aint over ’til the fat lady sings’, or so says the cliché. Truth is she may not be singing yet, but she started going through her vocal exercises at Stamford Bridge and against Palace yesterday she stepped out onto the stage ready to belt out her finale. For Steven Gerrard it will have been a bitter-sweet ending to a magical fairy-tale career.

Life is a series of moments. In the end all that is left are those instants in time; the good the bad and the indescribable. I began my final match-day of the season immersed in one such moment; a school presentation for my daughter. These are precious moments in a fathers life and as it turned out, it was good preparation for what was to come.

Being a dyed-in-the wool sentimentalist, I’d fought back…

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The Kop Gerrard Tribute

The Kop Gerrard Tribute

This article by me was published first on http://www.thisisanfield.com

‘It aint over ’til the fat lady sings’, or so says the cliché. Truth is she may not be singing yet, but she started going through her vocal exercises at Stamford Bridge and against Palace yesterday she stepped out onto the stage ready to belt out her finale. For Steven Gerrard it will have been a bitter-sweet ending to a magical fairy-tale career.

Life is a series of moments. In the end all that is left are those instants in time; the good the bad and the indescribable. I began my final match-day of the season immersed in one such moment; a school presentation for my daughter. These are precious moments in a fathers life and as it turned out, it was good preparation for what was to come.

Being a dyed-in-the wool sentimentalist, I’d fought back the tears, heart bursting with pride as she received her award. By the end of the day I’d be risking dangerous dehydration as I watched one of Liverpool’s greatest sons receive his rewards from The Kop. However, in clapping Stevie off the pitch at Anfield yesterday, my sadness at the end of an era was matched only by my anger at the betrayal he had suffered at the hands of his team-mates.

Earlier in the day, at my daughters school, it had been hard to avoid talk of Stevie’s last home game. Have you got a ticket? Do you reckon he’ll cry? What are the best odds on him to score? and of course the 64 million dollar question, would you sell your ticket? Stories of people selling tickets for as much as eleven grand have been doing the rounds in Liverpool. That’s a huge some of money. It’s enough to pay for a decade of season tickets, yet still I couldn’t contemplate it.

Gerrard’s career has been one long series of incredible moments. Heart-stopping, jaw dropping and fist pumping moments of joy, despair and triumph. I’ve lived through them all and I have seen many of them in person. No amount of money could tempt me to miss his final precious moments in front of an adoring Kop. It should have been a send off fit for a King. In the stands it was, on the pitch it was anything but.

As I made my way to the game later in the afternoon, I reflected on the amount of times this lad from Huyton had seized the initiative and in an instant rescued the team or won the spoils. Olympiakos at Anfield, Milan in Istanbul, West Ham at Cardiff or United here, there and everywhere. So many special moments. Who’s going to fill that void now. Players who can step up, when it matters most, to deliver a winning goal or an inch-perfect pass and claim the spoils are priceless.

Gerrard starts epic comeback

Gerrard starts epic comeback

This is why players like Steven Gerrard are irreplaceable. It is the consistency with which he has delivered that sets him apart from the rest, but it goes further than that. Players like Steven embody the spirit of the club. They carry the hopes and dreams of a city and are the essence of each and everyone of us distilled onto the pitch. They come around once in a lifetime.

Liverpool have been blessed with some truly great players. As a kid my hero was Dalglish. There have been others who have captured our hearts, but for me Gerrard belongs in a special category of players.

He is an Elisha Scott, a Billy Liddell and a Dalglish. In Toffee language he is a Dixie Dean. These players transcend time and will live in the stories and tall-tales of successive generations of football fans. I wasn’t alive during the era of Liddell, Scott or Dean, but they live in my consciousness and are part of the rich folklore of Mersey football culture. That will be true of our current number eight.

Gerrard hits last gasp equalizer in FA Cup Final against West Ham

Gerrard hits last gasp equalizer in FA Cup Final against West Ham

My Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren will know all about Steven Gerrard. Everyone of those players on the pitch yesterday is privileged to share the turf with him, yet only the Palace players looked like they cared. In short Gerrard didn’t deserve that performance yesterday and many of his team-mates don’t deserve to wear the same shirt as him.

There was a huge sense of anticipation pre-match. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many camera crews around he ground before a game. Fans were busy being interviewed or posing for the paparazzi in front of the Paisley Gates. I saw two lads holding their tickets in the air and shouting “Priceless”. Given how much money had been changing hands for a chance to see the game, they weren’t far wrong.

My seat, just under the scoreboard to the left of the Kop, affords me a great view across the famous old stand. It was a pageant of colour. There were the usual classics, but at the front huge Gerrard banners took centre-stage. There was a buzz in the air and the expectation we were about to witness something truly momentous.

Given the magnitude of the occasion I expected Liverpool to fly at Crystal Palace. There was no silverware at stake, but there was honour to fight for and the need to give the captain a fitting send off after a seventeen years of unstinting service and loyalty. The fact that the team served up what can only be described as a turgid display still angers me now. I suspect it will niggle at me all through the summer.

The fact that these players couldn’t get it up for Gerrard’s last game simply beggars belief. As the whistle went and the game got under-way it quickly became clear that this was going to be a testimonial. All around me the atmosphere had been emotionally charged from the minute we took our seats, but the mood was turning to anger as the first half rolled on. When Lallana eventually broke clear and finished sublimely with his right foot the feeling was one of relief.

Everyone of the Liverpool players ran to Gerrard to celebrate. Perhaps they cared. Maybe now they would get going and deliver the thrashing such an occasion demanded. It wasn’t to be and team slumped back into pedestrian mode. I don’t know if their heads were already on the beach, but they certainly weren’t at the game yesterday.

The half was drawing to a miserable close, when on 42 minutes Emre Can fouled Yannick Bolasie on the edge of the box. Puncheon struck the ball sweetly, but Mignolet didn’t even move. People all around me erupted in fury, I just hung my head in despair.

There was no way Palace were going to lie down and allow Anfield to slip into party mode. It was going to be up to us to stamp our authority on the game. Where was the passion and desire? As the players disappeared down the tunnel surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to rally them for the second half.

Instead it was Pardew’s men who came out fired up. Liverpool huffed and puffed, but they weren’t blowing anybody’s houses down. Palace got their rewards from yet another poorly defended set piece on the hour mark. Even this failed to spark the Reds into life.

Reality sets in

Reality sets in

Things were going from bad to worse and when Lucas replaced Lallana on 65 there was a sense of incredulity in the stadium. The former saints player had been the only glimmer of hope up to that point for me. If we needed a goal, I thought he had a chance of getting or creating one. I just couldn’t understand the substitution at all.

The tension was unbearable. It wasn’t meant to be like this and anger and frustration bubbled all around me. There was a risk this could boil over and ruin the occasion, until the Captain himself lifted the lid and released the pressure. He attempted a shot from outside the box, which sailed high and wide. It is probably in low earth orbit by now.

The Kop paused in disbelief, before launching into a rendition of “What the fucking hell was that?” It was a moment of irreverence that broke the tension and when the skipper raised his arm to acknowledge us the crowd broke into a round of sustained applause. It felt like we sang his name pretty much constantly from that moment on.

The penalty was salt in a gaping wound, but it changed nothing. Liverpool were sleep walking to defeat and failure anyway. They have been since the abject display against  United. The referee’s whistle was a blessed relief. He may not know it but he was calling time on Liverpool’s season not just the game. It’s an end that can’t come soon enough for me. For our captain, it is hardly the send off he deserved.

As he wandered around the pitch soaking up the richly deserved adulation of The Kop, his team-mates skulked behind him and well they might. He may already be California dreamin’ but the club needs to wake up if we are to avoid yet another nightmare season.

A legend says goodbye

A legend says goodbye

Originally posted on Jeff Goulding:

Are politicians just barometers of public opinion? Or do we deserve more than that? Are politicians just barometers of public opinion? Or do we deserve more than that?

There will be ‘blood on the carpet’ within the Labour movement following the 2015 General Election result. This is truly a low point. From where they stand now it seems a long way back. How can they reverse their current fortunes?

My fear is that there will be voices within the movement arguing that the Party should move further to the right in order to win back the support of the electorate. There are already stories appearing in the press of Ed’s brother and ‘New Labour’ acolyte David Milliband returning to rescue the party. Shifting to the right would be a mistake in my view.

In a my last post I argued that Labour failed to oust the coalition because they simply weren’t a radical alternative.  In my view this led to them losing their traditional…

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Are politicians just barometers of public opinion? Or do we deserve more than that?

Are politicians just barometers of public opinion? Or do we deserve more than that?

There will be ‘blood on the carpet’ within the Labour movement following the 2015 General Election result. This is truly a low point. From where they stand now it seems a long way back. How can they reverse their current fortunes?

My fear is that there will be voices within the movement arguing that the Party should move further to the right in order to win back the support of the electorate. There are already stories appearing in the press of Ed’s brother and ‘New Labour’ acolyte David Milliband returning to rescue the party. Shifting to the right would be a mistake in my view.

In a my last post I argued that Labour failed to oust the coalition because they simply weren’t a radical alternative.  In my view this led to them losing their traditional base, while at the same time failing to inspire either the ‘floating voters’ or the abstainers to get behind them.

In addition when faced with a choice between Tories or Tory Light the rest chose to go with the original version. After all who could be better at being a Conservative than, well a Conservative. Labours job is to persuade those voters there’s a different and better way; it’s not to suggest they can out-Tory the Tories.

The counter argument suggests that times have changed. It states that the electorate prefers moderate centre-right politicians. Proponents of this outlook would point to the success of Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’. When ‘Old Labour’ was all left wing they lost elections.

Of course this ignores the context. In 1997 the country was emerging from 17 years of Tory rule. The nation was deeply divided and the sense of social injustice and inequality was palpable. Labour’s election theme “Things can only get better” was very apt. They certainly couldn’t have got any worse.

I don’t believe the election of Blair in the 90’s was a conscious  endorsement of ‘New Labour’. It was a vote for change and optimism.

I wouldn’t hold ‘Old Labour’ up as a perfect model either. Although they did offer a manifesto that was radically different from the political right, they remained tied to and limited by their adherence to the prevailing political order. ‘Old Labour’ failed to deal with the inherent instability of the free market economy and they also seemed happy to operate within the current political system.

People like Tony Benn, Michael Foot and others argued for electoral reform, such as the abolition of the House of Lords. They also supported economic reform, championing Clause 4 of the Party constitution, which had existed since 1918, but they didn’t implement any of that while in office.

'Old Labour' Tony Benn and Michael Foot

‘Old Labour’ Tony Benn and Michael Foot

Clause 4:

“To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”

This is a profound alternative to Conservative free market ideology and one I find truly inspirational. It is the very expression of social justice, fairness and speaks of a system that is truly democratic. Imagine a society where all of industry is owned and controlled by all of us and one in which we all share in the full fruits of our labours. This is the same ethos that led to the creation of  a National Health Service in 1945. An idea that remains hugely popular today.

The current Party still talks of a society where wealth and power are in the hands of the many, instead of the few. Capitalism has never been able to achieve this anywhere. By removing the section that refers to  common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, they will be unable to deliver on this.

Are these ideas outdated? Will the electorate buy into a philosophy of socialist planning over free market principles? That was largely the justification within the movement for ditching ‘clause 4′. Essentially we were told Socialism isn’t popular any more. People are too individualistic, upwardly mobile and selfish to vote for these old fashioned ideas. Even if that’s true, what does this say about the role of a political party?

Clearly in a true democracy the electorate is king. What ‘New Labour’ seemed to be saying was, let’s develop policies that we know the electorate are in favour of. In this sense they became mere barometers, reflecting the changing whims and desires of the population as a whole.

In this interpretation of a political parties role, those who produce a manifesto that most closely matches the electorates hopes and dreams wins. Simple really. In fact you could argue ‘why have different political parties at all? Why not just have one party that governs by focus group and opinion polls?’

In reality we are scarily close to this vision today. Most of the main stream parties use such forms of engagement to test out the popularity of their manifesto pledges. In my opinion this has more to do with winning a popularity contest that actually putting forward ideas and debating the issues.

My view is different. I believe the electorate still call the shots. However, rather than seek power for power’s sake, the role of the party is to articulate a vision it genuinely believes in and aims to implement. They’re job then, is to then go out and convince the electorate of that vision. If they fail to do so, then so be it. This is at least an honest and noble position. However, if you succeed then you find yourself in a position to make the changes that you truly believe in.

For me if we lose those politicians who have genuine conviction and are prepared to risk unpopularity to say what they really mean then democracy is lost. Where will the true innovation come from if our elected leaders continue to trot out the tried and tested sound-bites? If they’re honest about their beliefs then we can make a truly informed choice. We can debate their ideas and in that process society can move forward, rather than being locked in the same sterile status-quo forever.

We live in an age where the majority are deeply cynical about the motives of politicians. Most people believe that those standing for election will promise them the earth, only to renege on those pledges as soon as they get into office. This is for the most part fair. However, we should accept that sometimes elected official have to make decisions based on rapidly changing circumstances, sometimes out of their direct control.

This is why we need to know what their principles and values are. If they are honest about what drives them and what their ultimate vision is, then we are better able to predict how they will respond to the chaos of the world. In my view if Labour is to climb back into office, then it needs to clearly articulate those principles set out in Clause 4. Fear of failure or playing it safe will only lead to another defeat.

People have had enough of the same old message. This is why 40% don’t even turn up on election day. What a difference they would have made if Labour could have inspired them to vote.

The next leader of the Labour Party needs to set out a clear vision based on the guiding principles of the movement, inspire new recruits to the cause and then go out and convince the electorate that it is right for the country as a whole. What if it doesn’t work? So be it. Why would you go into politics to campaign for someone else’s ideas anyway?

Originally posted on Jeff Goulding:

The The “choice” before the electorate

Last night Britain’s political system failed the majority of people in our country. After five years of austerity we are forced to accept that by the time of the next election we will have lived through another decade of Tory rule.

This morning I feel genuine despair and am struggling to make sense of the nightmare. My analysis is of course biased. Anyone who has followed these pages will know where my political allegiances lie. I am the son of a life long Trade Unionist, brought up in a staunchly Labour family. At the age of sixteen I declared myself a Marxist and a Socialist and I remain so today. Having acknowledged that, I am more convinced than ever that our democracy is broken.

There will be much soul searching at Labour HQ in the coming months. They should have walked this election, instead they…

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The

The “choice” before the electorate

Last night Britain’s political system failed the majority of people in our country. After five years of austerity we are forced to accept that by the time of the next election we will have lived through another decade of Tory rule.

This morning I feel genuine despair and am struggling to make sense of the nightmare. My analysis is of course biased. Anyone who has followed these pages will know where my political allegiances lie. I am the son of a life long Trade Unionist, brought up in a staunchly Labour family. At the age of sixteen I declared myself a Marxist and a Socialist and I remain so today. Having acknowledged that, I am more convinced than ever that our democracy is broken.

There will be much soul searching at Labour HQ in the coming months. They should have walked this election, instead they have been wiped out in their heartlands and have failed to inspire an electorate still living in the grip of fierce cuts in public spending. The Tories have increased the national debt, the recovery is stalling, austerity has failed yet Labour has been unable to articulate an alternative.

In Scotland the voters were presented with a clear choice. They have consistently voted to oust the Conservatives and have been let down time and again. The Scottish people are yearning for change, for a government that represents their aspirations for fairness, equality and above all an end to cuts in public services.The SNP offered them everything they wanted.

Parts of their manifesto would have sat comfortably with the likes of Michael Foot or Tony Benn. They promised to end cuts on day one. Labour would only promise to be fairer in choosing where they would cut. The old iron fist in a velvet glove trick. It is no surprise to me that Ed Milliband’s Labour Party received a historic drubbing North of the border. This is clear evidence that when you offer a radical alternative people will rally to it.

It’s true that even if those seats had fallen to Labour last night, it still wouldn’t have been enough to secure a majority under our current electoral system. However, I would argue that had Labour put forward a radical alternative to the Conservatives they would have won far more support in England and Wales than they did. The disillusionment in Scotland is mirrored all over the country. The problem is that in the absence of an alternative to the status-quo many have chosen to abandon the ballot, with around 40% not voting.

Already there is an attempt to steer the narrative away from this basic truth. I actually saw one pundit argue that Labour was too left wing to win. This flies in the face of reality. It is true that Milliband has flirted with ideas of social justice, but he continued to argue that spending should be reduced overall.

We saw queues at polling stations in Liverpool, but here the feeling is one of anti-tory rather than pro-Labour. The local Labour council is unpopular, but in a city-region that has born the brunt of Conservative attacks on the public sector there is no appetite to oust the only viable alternative to the Tories.

In the grip of despair and anger some have opted to blame the electorate for last nights result. The argument goes like this; the country has got what it deserves. People are too stupid greedy or apathetic. Sometimes when the truth seems obvious to you, it is easy to consider everyone else as fools or the duped. I simply can’t lay the blame for this result at the door of ordinary people. It is the job of leaders and political parties is to provide a vision and Labour simply haven’t done this.

It should also be said that this election result is far from an endorsement of  the Conservative Party. They have polled just over a third of the vote and thanks to our archaic voting system they have gained a workable majority. This means the views of almost two thirds of the electorate will not be represented. Britain is deeply divided and we have to consider the real possibility of a break up, especially if the SNP maintains their success in elections to the Scottish Parliament next year.

How will the North of England respond to such a move? There are many in my region who feel great empathy for the Scots. They are desperate for change, but have no hope of a government that represents their aspirations. We’ve been here before and if Labour doesn’t respond people will look elsewhere for more radical alternatives.

Milliband has stepped down now, but how much difference will a change in leadership make. We don’t operate a presidential system in Britain. We vote for parties and policies. Labour needs to consider what it is now. What does it believe in? In my view if it chooses to continue its march to the centre, it will suffer the same fate as the Liberal Democrats. Labour has a duty to be a powerful, credible and a real alternative to the Tories. Why seek power for its own sake? Surely the point is to make a difference.

Sadly, the truth for me is that we live in a broken democracy. We have woken up to a reality where simply voting every five years isn’t good enough. We must all become politicians now. Democracy is for life not just for elections. We must make this the age of community activism.

I have made a pledge to my self to become more active from now on. If Parliament won’t deliver a government that serves the needs of all the people, if Labour can’t articulate a vision that inspires its natural constituency; then we have to create that vision for ourselves. We have to come together to reclaim our communities and take back the power from a political elite that is more remote than ever before.

It’s time we all became activists. Get out and defend your local libraries, parks and schools. Oppose cuts in local services, join a union and hold its leadership to account. Start talking to your friends and neighbours about politics and lobby your MP’s and councillors. They serve at our pleasure. If they won’t do it, then maybe its up to us to fix our broken democracy.

Ticket pricing protest on The Kop

Ticket pricing protest on The Kop

This article by me was also published on http://www.thisisanfield.com

With the UK General Election looming, it’s time to consider the politics of football. Some argue it has no place in our game, but I want to convince you that there has never been a greater reason for football supporters to get political.

It’s a privilege to be around at the birth of a movement. Even when viewed from a distance you can not help but be inspired by the coming together of millions of people in a common purpose. In my life I have been fortunate to have lived through many.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall under the weight of countless East German citizens swinging pick axes and sledge hammers, their oppressors powerless to stop them, was a truly jaw dropping moment. Likewise the end of Apartheid, the abolition of the Poll-Tax, the peace settlement in Northern Ireland all spoke of the power of ordinary people all over the world saying enough is enough!

Different movements with different aims in disparate parts of the globe, but they all have one thing in common for me. Each of these epoch defining monoliths were said to be immovable and permanent. That is until the masses decided they had other ideas.

I grew up being told that ‘you can’t beat the system’, that those who have the power will never let go.  This ‘It’ll never work’ attitude frustrated me as much back then as it does today. Then one evening I sat in disbelief, as I watched a single Chinese Student bring a column of tanks to a halt in Tiananman Square. That powerful iconic image, beamed around the world blew that old argument out of the water.

In reality it has always been this way. I can’t think of a single advance in the rights or freedoms of ordinary people that hasn’t been won through struggle. To put it simply those in control of the power never relinquish it voluntarily. If we want reform of any kind we have to campaign for it. Sometimes that involves sacrifice. It always involves collective effort. Shankly himself said “I believe the only way to achieve success in life is through collective effort”.

Central to Shankly’s philosophy was the notion that as individuals we can only achieve so much, but there is strength in unity and common purpose. This ‘Spirit of Shankly’ gave rise to another great movement and it has led to the ‘politicisation’ of a significant number of Liverpool fans over the last decade.

When it comes to politics most of us, if we engage at all, will get involved in the ‘big ticket issues’.  This week Russell Brand interviewed Ed Milliband on the Trews. Whatever you think of either of them, what they both said really resonated for me. They talked of a new politics, of community activism bringing pressure to bear on governments and political parties and ending the power of rich lobbyists.

In Liverpool we have been demonstrating the power of community activism for twenty five years. There would have been no Hillsborough Independent Panel or Inquests without ordinary supporters and the families of the bereaved coming together and refusing to give in. A certain ‘newspaper’ would still be on sale in our shops, if it wasn’t for a mass boycott that has remained gloriously solid throughout all of that period. Liverpool supporters are well versed in collective effort and community activism and they have made the establishment sit up and take notice.

Liverpool v Everton - FA Cup Semi Final

It is therefore no surprise to me that Liverpool supporters are in the vanguard of the movement against obscenely inflated ticket prices. Up to a thousand of them boycotted an way match at Hull. This was a tremendous show of strength and a model for football supporters of all clubs.

Ours is a truly grass-roots campaign and that’s where its power lies. I remember the formation of Spirit of Shankly. The union grew out of desire to rid the club of Hicks and Gillett and place supporter at the heart of decisions made about the club. At the time they drew criticism from sections of our own support.

Complaints ranged from the ‘you can’t fight city hall’ argument to criticisms of their grammar. Some even argued that politics, unions and demonstrations had no place in football or sport in general. Then there were those who suggested we should look to the ‘professional’ campaigns being organised by United fans to get rid of the Glasers, rather than the jeans and trainers campaigners that were the masterminds of SOS.

All I will say on this subject is look at where those respective campaigns are today. While United fans were being urged to wear multi-coloured scarves, SOS were busy organising a global campaign that struck fear into the hearts of anyone thinking of lending our Tom and George any money.

So effective was this movement that Hicks himself was forced to acknowledge he had been undone by a bunch of ‘internet terrorists’. As we survey the fallout we have rid ourselves of Tom and George, while the Glasers grip on United is as strong as the debt on their books. What’s happened to the green and gold scarves?

The fact is SOS have gone on to greater heights, joining forces with Spion Kop 1906 and taking on the cartels controlling ticket prices. The club have been forced to listen and other supporters around the country are uniting to bring pressure to bear. It collectivism. It’s community activism and it’s working.

Liverpool-protest460

We can all see the logic of mass movements on issues as big as the right to vote. Ending corrupt states through mass demonstrations resonates with most of us. We will even contemplate civil disobedience when faced with unjust laws or infringements on civil liberties. Maybe injustice in sport seems too trivial to justify such a passionate response.

I would strongly disagree. Yes we may have come to terms with the fact that football is not more important than life or death, but it’s still very important. Think about how much time and energy you invest in the game, let alone the money.

Whole communities are built around football teams. Think about what Liverpool Football Club means to you, how passionate you feel about it,  the joy it has brought you and the crushing despair. Your team is as much a part of your life as your job, maybe more so. You would fight to defend your job. Why wouldn’t you do the same to defend your club, or your right to watch your club.

As Brand said, after his much publicised chat with Ed, Democracy is for every day. I believe he is right. It’s for the big stuff and the little stuff. The only way we can secure the things that matter most to us is to engage with politics and become activists.

There can be no suggestion any more that football isn’t political. Stadium disasters all over the world tell us it is. Allegations of corruption at the heart of FIFA and the usurping of our clubs by the rich and powerful tell us that football is deeply political.

In Europe there are different models of ownership where fans have a greater say in the running of their clubs. Why can’t we have that here? Could a foreign owner take over  a club in the Bundesliga and change its badge or name without the fans consent? Why can’t we enjoy the same protection? The Premier League is staring down the barrel of unimaginable wealth, yet it sees fit to price the ordinary fan out of the game. How can this be allowed to happen?

Whether you like it or not, these are all political questions. On our own we can moan about the situation, but we can not change it. Together we can. For too long football supporters have been happy to leave the running of their most cherished pastime to others, content to pay whatever it takes for the privilege of watching their heroes.

Football is never going to be free, but it has to be affordable if the lifeblood of the game, the supporters are to keep up. Fans are realists. They appreciate clubs have to turn a profit, but it’s the sense that we are being fleeced that angers many of us. Shankly also talked of a world where everybody worked for each other and everybody shared in the rewards at the end of the day. We are light years from this vision in my view. Instead, most of us are watching from the sidelines as our clubs disappear over the horizon.

It’s time to reclaim our game and that means getting political. It means coming together with like minded supporters and campaigning.  It means lobbying your MP or Councillor. It means marching or even boycotting games. You don’t have to join a supporters union to do any of this, but think how powerful we would be if we all did.

I want my kids and eventually my future grand-kids to be able to afford to go the game long after I’m gone. I want them to be treated fairly by the clubs they support and to be safe when they go the game. I want the communities in which our teams are rooted to be respected and for our grounds to be community assets. In my view there is nothing more political than that and it’s time we all woke up to that fact.