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


Comments (8)
Comment by imp 2010-05-12 11:34:27

If I was going to watch it (which I'm not), it'd be "vomiting into an empty beer can".

Comment by bangsection 2010-05-12 12:26:49

I'll tell you what is "historic" - Monday's decision by the Football League to accept the Premier League's very own version of trickle down economics: vastly increasing both parachute payments to relegated Premiership teams and the proportion of cash given to Championship clubs each season.

I'd have thought that the creation of a Premier League 2 by the back door in a deal which was railroaded through in record time as a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to the lower two divisions is pretty much the definition of "historic".

No mention of it as such on Sky Sports News, funnily enough...

Comment by Coxy 2010-05-12 15:06:06

Atleast with all this mordern day history we don't have to keep bleating on about the "matthews final " and how some guy stole the show because he had the baggiest shorts , even though his mate scored a hat trick.
History is only for Liverppol fans anyway, who believe if you are not United or Arsenal or their beloved selves you can't have any History because a club has to win bag loads of stuff to have history(preferably between 1964 and 1989) In fact its probably LFC who started all this History nonsense stuff off,and Mandela would never have got off that Island if Robben hadn't been crocked again.

Comment by RayDeChaussee 2010-05-12 16:28:46

Oh no, looks like JT won't be making history after all.

Comment by Kowalski 2010-05-12 20:29:28

Bangor City made History on the Saturday before last. They were the first club to win 3 Welsh Cups in a row since the last one.

Comment by ian.64 2010-05-13 08:46:18

"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?"

I don't know whether the Premier League/Sky Sports over-dramatic, overwrought insistence that football is life itself is annoying or just plain parady. It certainly is becoming the latter. All games between the big clubs on Sky are heralded with trailers like this:

(Slow kettle-drum beats; images of Drogba and Torres in slo-mo)

Voiceover: (Excited, vengeful, urgent, my family have been kidnapped by Vikings) The time is upon us. The tectonic plates of the Premiership have moved to cause a shift in power such has never been seen before. World War II was a whisper. Vietnam a mere cough of irritation. These are mere distractions next to the explosion of brilliance that is -

(Firey plumes fill the screen)


(CGI of Terry, Gerrard and Drogba screaming defiance as they ride upon the backs of horses with manes of flowing fire into a wasteland of rock and molten lava)

Will John Terry destroy time itself and cause ructions of terror that may split the cosmos? Will Drogba score another historic goal that may interupt the revolution of the planets in our solar system and send them spinning off into space?

(Two giant faces - Benitez and Ancelotti - loom into view, their eyes filled with CGI flames as their cheeks crack and fall like stone.)

Beware the giants! For when they speak, their words scrub the skies with fire and cataclysm is wrought o'er the land! The prize they seek a mighty one! Who dares stand in their way?

(One more huge explosion)

Sell your family! Kill your enemies! Let the battle commence! Liverpool versus Chelsea! Sky Sports One, Sunday!

(Then follows sepia trailer for the Football League: man smoking pipe, sitting next to whippet by brazier in front of brick wall with 'Come on, Pretson!' scrawled in paint across it. Five seconds of Preston v Nottingham Forest clips.)

Voiceover: (lightly excited, just putting the cat out) Preston versus Nottingham Forest. It's on Monday night, if you're interested.

Comment by Half Man Half Biscuit 2010-05-13 11:34:40

Here's a Tweet from Radio Five Live presenter Jacqui Oatley today:
"Alas, poor Fulham, 'twas not to be, but you'll go down in history".

Comment by Lincoln 2010-05-13 15:54:44

I'm pretty sure I heard the commentator state last night that Fulham were battling for the 'ultimate glory', of winning the UEFA thingy cup.

Related articles

Graeme Souness – Football: my life, my passion
by Graeme SounessHeadline, £9.99Reviewed by Peter BrooksbankFrom WSC 378, September 2018Buy the book To football supporters of a certain...
The best and worst moments of 2017 ~ part one
Embed from Getty Images // From Scotland’s failures to the triumph of England’s Under-17s, via John Terry, astounding Cup runs and...
Great football sitcoms are in short supply because fans’ teams are tragic enough
. There are plenty of good comedy writers who love football but almost all shows on the subject come up short, which is no surprise...