Sport just ain’t the same

Leicester City's Anthony Knockaert (right) is tackled by Watford's Marco Cassetti (left), resulting in a penalty kick during the npower Championship, Play-Off Semi Final, Second Leg match at Vicarage Road, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 12, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Watford. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.
Leicester City's Anthony Knockaert (right) is tackled by Watford's Marco Cassetti (left), resulting in a penalty kick during the npower Championship, Play-Off Semi Final, Second Leg match at Vicarage Road, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 12, 2013. See PA story SOCCER Watford. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Whatever the reason, we know that school sport in this area is not like it was in our day. We played for school teams at different age levels and different sports, willingly giving up our Saturday mornings.

According to many of the stories told it appears that most of our members were at least of county standard and due to poor selection policies and favouritism they never made it.

It could have been due to the other attractions of girls, alcohol and laziness but not necessarily in that order.

We did hear stories of how one member achieved the longest jump ever at his school and others recalled mainly their triumphs and occasionally, very occasionally, their moments of disaster.

Pictures were painted of high jump pits with hard sand waiting for you well below the take off level, of bamboo poles for pole vaulting, of leather soccer balls wet and heavy with their laces hanging out, of green pimply cricket gloves with fingers missing, of having to bat with one pad and a borrowed box.

Yes, those were the days. We called the referee “sir” and never argued with a decision. We never pretended to get hurt knowing that we would be called a soft “Jessie” if we did and also knowing that the treatment for any injury was a very cold wet sponge down the back of your neck.

We didn’t require a drink every five minutes and we accepted the umpire’s decision even when given out wrongly.

Some members did sport simply to get a better thirst. A story was told how at half time in a third team rugby union match the visiting captain asked the referee to delay the start of the second half “so that some of my players could finish their fags”.

Transport was a problem but occasionally a coach was hired and we learnt the words of many a dubious song on away trips.

We didn’t have a variety of supplements to boost our performances - an extra slice of drip bread would do the trick. Trainers and coaches simply told us “to get stuck in” and although some of the tackles we made were late, we did get there as soon as we could.

Soccer matches usually provide us with the spectacle of a fine physical specimen being pole-axed by the gentlest of touches, screaming with pain and rolling over five times. Recovery is almost instant when the referee does nothing about it. This then sets off a chain of events that includes a manager showing his outrage from 50 yards away and players subjecting the referee to a stream of abuse.

Football managers these days have the medical condition known as intermittent visual acuteness. One minute they see everything – the next it’s gone.

Our conclusion is simple. The referee has become too important.

When discussing the antics and performances of the present day highly paid top-level sportsmen the sceptics and cynics have a field day.

After taking their daily round of tablets, having a quick smoke and a few pints of beer, they then declare “They’re all on drugs you know”.

Well that might explain why things are not like they were in our day.