I do believe you might have missed something ...
PUBLISHED: 10:07 09 June 2013
Snobbery. Never liked it much.
It appears to me that while we are fortunate enough to live in one of the best places in these isles, East Anglia, when it comes to snobbery, we are the bogey on the end of lots of noses that are looked along by eyes that know no better.
I remember in the black and white days of journalism college sparking some strange walkout of a lecture for taking umbrage at a tutor who called me a carrot cruncher - because I insisted you couldn’t buy a copy of The Spectator in WH Smiths in Wisbech.
That’s besides the point, though.
It really does get my goat when East Anglia is ignored when it comes to sport, when national broadcasters and media laugh behind their hands at Delia Smith’s Let’s Be ‘Aving You but don’t bother pulling apart another owner who, for argument’s sake, might be carelessly revealing another club’s private plans because he can’t keep away from the camera. Or the owner who is so media friendly he’s on my radio every week, yet after throwing good money at his bad club his highly-paid manager still couldn’t avoid them being relegated.
A cracking example of the way the blinkers go on came this week when a story dropped into my inbox on the back of the annual Deloitte review of football finance. In an effort to cover all bases (honest), they decided to do a regional breakdown of the report.
In London, the capital’s 15 league clubs had combined revenue of almost £900m, a third of the £3bn total generated by all 92 clubs; the clubs employed more than 2,700 full-time staff in all; more than 6.5m people in the capital attended professional club matches.
In the north-west, four clubs were in the top 10 by revenue - two from Manchester, two from Liverpool, if you hadn’t guessed.
In the Midlands, their 15 League clubs had combined revenue of over £400m, equivalent to 13pc of the total.
And in the north-east, Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough generated combined revenue of £190m, 6pc of the total.
I reckon by now you can see where I am heading on this one. Yup, no mention of East Angular. Oops, I mean Anglia.
We don’t exist. We are not worthy. This is not a hotbed of football, we don’t have famously fervent fans. We don’t have a production line of multi-million pound sales and purchases. We are not worth a mention.
Shame, that, considering that the region’s top club, which happens to be on this particular doorstep, has the best-behaved fans in the Premier League, for the second year in a row.
They offered “the most positive verbal support and recognition of outstanding play by the opposition”.
That’s good to hear. On top of the stat that says they sell out their capacity more than any other club in the top flight. The attendance percentage is more than 100pc - and my old logarithm chart and times table never will help me understand that. Nonetheless it is a packed house, “the hottest ticket in town” is how I believe David McNally, City’s chief executive, described it.
I suppose there is something to be said for being ignored: that way, nobody notices the good bits and gets an aching for taking them away from you.
But overall, I can’t get away from that nagging feeling that East Anglia is wrongly looked down upon. Norwich, Ipswich, Southend, Colchester, Peterborough. Stevenage if you like. Luton and Northampton if you really push the geographical case. MK Dons if you just feel sorry for them. All are decent clubs who make a contribution to the overall footballing picture. They may not attract gates of 50,000-plus, but every fan who walks in to their stadiums is as supportive of their team as the ones who enter Anfield, The Emirates, Old Trafford, or St James’ Park.
None is tin pot. Not even Wigan, who may not attract big crowds, but have supporters who cry the same tears as anyone else when they suffer the disappointment of relegation. Wigan were lauded for winning a cup and being relegated in the same month; maybe it’s because they are in the hub of football that is the north-west.