An "historic" season for the media and marketeers
12 May ~ Such is the importance of modern-day football that the people who report on, market and play it rarely pass up an opportunity to remind us of the historical significance of what we are watching. In just the last few days the media has brought us news of the first leg of Chelsea's potentially "historic" Premier League and FA Cup double, Carlo Ancelotti's side denying Manchester United a similarly "historic" fourth consecutive Premier League title in the process.
Meanwhile, Steve McClaren's FC Twente have just won an "historic" first Eredivisie title, and Fulham have "created history" by reaching the final of the Europa League, an achievement that included an "historic" win over Juventus. And when this historic season ends with yet more historic titles being won across the globe, yet more history will be made when South Africa hosts the first ever World Cup finals on African soil.
The historical import of today's game has not been lost on marketeers either. Fluttering away subliminally in the background of Barclaycard's Champions League ads is a crowd banner bearing the legend "History in the making", a playful reminder to replica shirted fans across the continent that the self-perpetuating spectacle they are tuning in to has an importance that stretches far beyond two football teams playing each other at football.
Today's players are also on message, showing an increasing appreciation of their central role in the overall scheme of things. Speaking to reporters after his side's 1-0 defeat of Bolton back in April, John Terry assessed Chelsea's tantalising position on the cusp of the record books with some quasi-Churchillian rhetoric: "You compete and you compete and when the opportunity arises, you have to seize it. When you seize it, you can make history."
Putting his departure from Old Trafford into an equally fitting perspective, Cristiano Ronaldo summed up the magnitude of last summer's momentous transfer saga. "I have had my time at Man Utd," he informed reporters from his Los Angeles retreat. "It's time to look forward and £80 million is quite a sum of money. This deal is historic." With their continual references to "Premier League history" and "Champions League history", the game's custodians are also re-educating fans, helpfully reminding them that all events prior to 1992, football's Year Zero, lack the import and significance of what has preceded it. After all, who wants to talk about "Football League history" these days, with its connotations of largely home-grown sides populated by players with bad haircuts winning antiquated trophies on unsightly, muddy pitches?
One of the next slices coming up for our delectation should be Terry and his team-mates handing down their names to posterity against Portsmouth on Saturday. It might not rival the collapse of the Berlin Wall or Nelson Mandela's release from Robben Island as an epoch-defining moment, not yet anyway. But in years to come I'm sure we'll all remember where we were when JT lifted the Cup for Chelsea. James Calder
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