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When did football peak for you - or has it?

edited May 20 in Football

I watched the '99' series last night on the Manchester United treble, and it got me thinking about the ebb and flow of the history of football. Despite never being an actual fan of any of these PL clubs, I have always felt as though top flight football (and for me, all major football to include international) peaked in injury time of the Man United-Bayern CL final, when United won the treble in the most thrilling way possible.

There are other reasons I feel that way besides the drama itself - Man United pulled out of the FA Cup the next season to go to the Club World Cup, and the FA Cup has never felt the same way since. Once Chelsea and then Man City brought the big bucks, it has all felt more artificial and less relatable too.

On a personal note, the last couple of years leading up to leaving England in June of 2000 were somewhat dramatic. During that 98/99 season I was travelling and then worked in Spain for a few weeks. I left the job in Spain suddenly with only a couple of hundred pounds in my pocket, and had to find my way to an airport from rural northern Spain. Having walked out at 11am, I had a day of perfect timing with various forms of transport getting me across to Bilbao, where I had just enough money for a flight to London. I landed in Heathrow and was walking by a bar when I saw the CL Final was on (I had completely forgotten about it given everything else that was happening) and United were 1-0 down with about ten minutes to go. By the end of it, all the strangers in there (few of whom actually seemed like United supporters) were hugging each other in delight at the ridiculously dramatic ending.

That subjective experience probably adds to the drama for me, but it also has never felt like top flight football is quite the same to me and I have had less and less interest in it as time has gone on. International football also peaked around the same time for me, with the 96 and 98 tournaments the ones I was most invested in, with diminishing returns since.

So my question is - has football ever peaked for you in a holistic sense (as opposed to our own Wycombe trajectory which has had a more recent golden age)? Does it just keep getting better for you, or is it plateauing? Has the distraction of the internet age changed the sport at all for you?



  • Feel like there’s a likely age bias that will display itself here.

    Late 00s Premier League.

    Mid/late 10s Champions League

  • edited May 20

    I think you are right - there is always a part of the past that has the warm glow of nostalgia. However, for me, though Liverpool-Everton was the (80s) rivalry of my childhood (followed by Liverpool-Arsenal), the Man United-Arsenal rivalry just seemed so much more thrilling in the late 90s. Even the shirts of that era always seem iconic, home and change.

    One thing I noticed about the documentary was how important the FA Cup was. Man United came from 0-1 on 88 minutes to beat Liverpool and were celebrating "like they had just won the World Cup" (to quote the celebration police) in the 4th round. I can't imagine Man City celebrating like that after a 4th round win.

  • Maybe it's not quite the reasoning that you might have expected, but I'd have to say that over the last few years - since COVID but not directly because of it - I've found football much less enjoyable because I am no longer able to let myself go to celebrate goals or be as passionate in my support.

    Hgh blood pressure is manly the culprit, but watching games with VAR means you just know the on field decision may get changed so why bother being too excited or depressed?

  • That is definitely an interesting (and sad) development for you, and it makes sense that it would impact the enjoyment too.

    I am a bit of a forum hopper, and I have seen so many threads over the last 5 years or so about people losing their passion for the sport. I even saw Leicester fans with a thread like that a couple of years after the title, because everything felt a bit sterile and corporate in the aftermath of their success.

  • 10 March 2021. FA Cup quarter final, Leicester City 1 Wycombe Wanderers 2 (Essandoh 90). It’s never got better than that moment.

  • It is quite rare now for me to watch MOTD.not sure why really - the standard is higher than its ever been and a good title race but I honestly am not overly bothered.

    I watch a few Tuesday night games on Iplayer thingy but honestly find the experience a bit insipid.

    I am thought delighted I have “found” my local non-league club. I go to most home games and the odd one or two away. It gives me my fix. Poor football live is still better than top quality football on a screen IMHO.


  • Forest 1978-1980, watching from the Trent End, aged in my late teens (a prime age for football supporting I would wager).

    Many trips to Wembley and European nights and a great rivalry with Liverpool, going toe to toe.

    But since moving South - Wycombe away at Spurs, leading 2-0 at half time and the away playoff semi final at MK Dons are right up there. Wycombe is a fabulous club to support!

  • I forgot to add that football peaked with the JJ penalty at Wembley against Poxford.

    Although the quarter-final FA Cup game v Leicester remains the only game at which I've ripped my shirt off over my head and waved it about - but that's because my family banned me from doing it every again to preserve their eye sight (and I don't mean I flicked them with my shirt!)

  • I had high blood pressure like 160/111 high and had Niagara Falls for nosebleeds.

    I was on two different medications for it but it remained stubbornly high.

    What really helped me was .

    walking just a mile a day , diet just watching the calories a bit and these

    They are marvellous, run everything by your doctor but most days now I vary between ideal and high normal.

    Anyway infomercial over

  • Yes, I think top level football has a different trajectory than the lower leagues and non-leagues. We may still be in a Wycombe golden era.

    Man City have really made it dull. Even if it turns out they are not cheating, it is football grown in a lab and designed by AI. An artificial pastel juggernaut.

  • Oh yes football, yeah Ceefax Roy leaping like a salmon to get that famous win. I was dancing on the seat backs literally. Heady days.

    But every season has its moments and the rush when we score is still a wonderful thing.

  • I still love it. And watching match of the day is still an absolutely genuine pleasure in life. I watch it with my son now. My dad used to watch it with me.

    And even if you're fed up with the circus that surrounds top level football just turn up to the park with a football and some mates and have a kickaround. That will never get old.

  • edited May 20

    Barely watch Premier League now, possibly because I reached my own saturation point from watching so many games when younger.

    Might sound strange, but the other thing I’d maybe link it to was Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

    The only year I can think of where Ive been keen to watch any Premier League since then was when Leicester won it.

    Do still enjoy watching Champions League. Am also just as interested in Euros and World Cup as I’ve always been.

  • I’m pretty sick of a lot of the garbage at the top level, but when you can block out the noise and just watch a great game it’s still as special as ever.

    And the rush I get when Wycombe score hasn’t changed since I saw Jason Cousins open the scoring at Wembley in 1993. If that ever goes away I’d probably pack it in.

  • edited May 20

    Probably the only premiership game I watch now is the 4pm Sunday one, fallen out of love with it mainly due to all the crap it comes with now, the commentators ruin it for me as well. Havnt watched a Champions league game for years, not interested it's all just the same. Tbh quite often if there is a clash between Premier league and a championship match, I watch the Championship match.

    I've been watching Wycombe since the early 80's when I could start going on my own as a teen. For me the last couple of years in non league then obviously the FA Cup semi final season were peak Wycombe. Oh, and obviously our 1st season in the league as well !

  • MOTD is pretty tedious now.

    Mostly, that’s the fault of the product it covers. A predictable league, endless VAR outrage and colossal levels of pomposity (the ball on the podium - gruesome).

    Punditry fatigue plays a part too - same old guff, week in, week out. Sometimes it goes on longer than the match highlights.

    As @DevC mentioned, the standard of football is incredible but it’s all a bit Harlem Globetrotters for me - exhibition matches for the sovereign wealth funds.

    I’m down to about three times a season now, which I would never have believed 20 years ago.

    But from the clips I see, it looks even worse on Sky. Especially with Neville & Carragher doling out hours of synthetic outrage for our ‘entertainment’.

  • The 1991 FA Cup semi final was the first to be held at Wembley as I think there were two London clubs (Spurs v Arsenal). Paul Gascoigne scored an iconic and stunning free kick against David Seaman and that moment was probably peak English football.

    It was just before the Premier League took over and I think the FA should have said Wembley semi finals- ok for all London clubs, but in general for the final only. That took some gloss off the final as a spectacle for me.

    Absolutely there’s a nostalgia bias but football felt more genuine back then. It still tickles the emotions but feels more contrived in its Sky Sports format.

  • Easy question to answer. 27 May 1992.

    That was the date the Premier League was founded and football in this country ceased to be a game for the people and became a commodity to sell to consumers, so for me it’s been downhill ever since.

    There is a good argument to make that this improved the quality of football and facilities at the top clubs but this has to be balanced by the financial mess and levels of corruption evident throughout the professional game.

    If in doubt, in 5 years time when the 2023/24 PL table is updated to show Arsenal as ‘Champions’ who will actually care.

  • For me, I think football died when ITV took over the Premier League highlights and MotD disappeared from the BBC. Also, taking Champions League off Free-to-air TV has taken a massive hit on people's interest in it. An English Champion League victory in the competition have never been fully celebrated since its move to Sky/BT Sports etc.

    I've never felt so proud to be a Wycombe fan at the FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park. It was an amazing experience and when we got a full blast of "You'll never walk alone" from the Liverpool fans, I found it one of the iconic moments that I won't ever forget. To be honest, that whole FA Cup run had lots of incredible moment. Every time there was an away match and our coaches pulled up at the stadium, I don't remember there being any aggression, banter or risk to safety, they welcomed us and were happy to talk. On the coach leaving Filbert Street, I remember the streets lined with their fans, seeing us off on our travels (in a nice way).

    Since then, football has turned. A lot more "banter" goes back and forth which often steps over the mark, people taking things into the ground that shouldn't be there, TV rights dictating when games will be played and its gone further and further away from the action on the pitch. There are brief moments where respect is shown but it has to involve something bad happening, why does something bad have to happen to bring the footballing community together?

  • I don't think you'd have enjoyed going to matches in the 80s

  • I never watch Match of the Day. The over analysis of football and the scripted banter of the presenters makes for poor watching. Match of the Day 2 has better presenters IMHO but I rarely watch that either.

    The Premier League is a different sport to mine. I don't have access to it so I have no relationship with it. It is a sport for tourists, and anyone who has been to a game in the past few years will see exactly that. People want to go so they can say they went not because they love the club or team. Everything about the Premier League is toxic. Player's aloof behaviour towards fans (I previously witnessed Leeds doing the hotel walk that was subsequently shown on social media much to their embarrassment) is a disgrace, and when someone does something nice towards a fan they are heralded as a hero and lauded for what should be basic decency.

    To the same degree boxing is no longer a sport I can relate to. In my younger days I grew up watching some of the greatest boxers the world has ever seen. A fight between Leonard and Hagler was something that you will never forget. And then the paywall came down and heroes became distant. Previously you would watch a fight (or listen) and then go and see the boxers when they were in 'town'. Same story as Premier League, you can pay to watch and then can't get a ticket to go.

    So my golden era for 'elite' football certainly is before the Premier League came along. For Wycombe I loved the late 80's but now takes some beating.

  • When it comes to top flight football, it seems to me it's been downhill since the move away from shared gate receipts in 1983. My memory is of a succession of teams challenging for the Football League Championship through the 70s and early 80s: by turns, Ipswich, QPR, WBA all got reasonably close and Derby, Forest and Villa all won it of course. So whilst the quality of players, facilities and coverage is undoubtedly transformed, there is so little capacity for surprise in the form of different competition for the top few (the Leicester season being the notable and thoroughly enjoyable exception) that I struggle to get interested. Adding financial doping and state ownership into the mix and it's all very unappetising these days.

  • Sky ruined top-flight football. Next year they're planning to also ruin lower league football. I'd imagine they'll eventually ruin non-league as well. I'm wondering whether I'll still be watching football at all in ten years time.

  • Mid 90s.

    4-4-2, defenders were mostly concerned with defending, both mids could get up and back, none of this "Holding" mid nonsense.

    2 Wingers who had pace, playing on their strong side, whipping crosses in, for 2 actual strikers to put away.

    Glory days pure and simple.

  • All subjective of course but I fell in love with football, not necessarily the club in question, when my Great Uncle gave me a tape of Man United’s 93-94 double winning season. I still rewatch it on YouTube occasionally and the goals and play from Hughes, Cantona, Giggs, Sharpe etc still holds up by today’s standards IMO. And check out the crowd and celebrations during matches at Old Trafford…a world away from today’s muted atmosphere. The 99 treble season and UCL victory remains iconic but I also remember wildly celebrating Liverpool’s win in 2005 despite having no affiliation to them. Maybe a slight soft spot as their fans were very gracious (as you would be) when I was walking through Brum train stations en route back from Villa Park.

    The Premier League is just background entertainment for me now and the UCL is virtually inaccessible behind its gilded TV cage. Perhaps the Beeb having UCL highlights will change that slightly but meh, that ship has probably sailed. I did enjoy watching West Ham’s kindly free-to-air European trophy win last season but generally the top level seems so far detached I don’t bother.

    Again, all subjective. Teens/younger folk who’ve followed England the last few years have lived through something of a golden age. More recent disappointments might feature more prominently than the endless re-runs of Italia 90, Euro 96 and WC 98 heartbreaks we get every time a tournament rolls round.

  • 70s and early 80s for me. The Wanderers teams was incredible, flowing football and goals galore. Also followed the West Ham teams of that time due to my best mate being a Hammers fan. Brooking and Devonshire were fantastic touch players, the latter cruelly robbed of games by injury. The constant threat of violence at away games got the adrenalin flowing too, although it never put me off. Almost like a right of passage for a young man, although I wouldn't want those days back. A more un-sanitised experience altogether in those days.

  • Football peaked for me on a sunny/showery late afternoon in July 1966. England winning the World Cup…nothing has come close since, except maybe the Wimbledon game.

  • That 93-94 United is probably peak 442 for me.

    Two absolute sprinter paced wingers, 2 very dominant aerial centre backs. A midfield combo both hard as nails and tasty on the ball, up and back all game. Then a tough yet super silky front 2. Brilliant.

  • 1966!

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