Category Archives: Protest

TV competitions and how to spice them up a bit.

The French are terrible businessmen. There has just been a competition on French channel M6 for the Belgium vs Italy match saying “To win €100,000, answer this question, what is the nickname of the Belgian team?”

The answer is the Red Devils, like Manchester United. That’s not the issue for me. The issue is the question they are asking for the money they are giving away.

See, if they want to know the answer to that question, they don’t need to spend €100,000. They could just Google it.

They’d get a lot more for their money if they were to ask a more complicated question. For instance “For your chance to win €100,000, answer this question: How do we solve world hunger?” Or “What do you think will finish off the human race sooner? A supervolcano, bees, nuclear war or climate change? Text your answer to…”

Just a thought.

Married at first sight: A review (mainly of the concept)

There was a show on Channel 4 recently called “Married at first sight” in which the basic premise was that a group of psychologists, anthropologists, an Anglican vicar, and so on, would discuss and match up two random strangers, who would only meet on the day of the wedding and see how it would pan out.

It was interesting, I’ll give it that but as a Catholic, I think marriage is a serious, eternal commitment. It is binding yourself to someone for the rest of your life and beyond the grave. It shouldn’t be taken lightly. It certainly shouldn’t be done for entertainment purposes. That, to my mind, devalues marriage.

Obviously, a programme like that that lays bare a dystopian view of marriage, and it has to get past the commissioning editors (the people who pick TV shows) and to do that it was framed as an “experiment”. They framed this experiment as, if two people were matched using scientific methods (like all dating sites use but e-harmony makes a point of saying they use it) then if they had an arranged marriage on the basis of this, would it work?

Now, this is only going to attract two sorts of people. It will attract desperate people and opportunists. They may feign curiosity, but no-one makes a life decision as big as marriage, out of curiosity. Nothing is as involving to a person’s core as the person they share a sexual relationship with. That is the Catholic view, but I have a lot of atheist friends and they seem to share that belief when I’ve shared it with them. Given that it involves something so core, it shouldn’t be the subject of a television programme as these are human beings. Inevitably, someone will, as someone did, get deeply hurt and driven to tears. The programme was well produced and presented but watching the inevitable happen was actually rather unpleasant. I think the science of it is interesting, but in a series such as this, to describe it as anything other than entertainment is misleading. It is called an experiment to try and validate the selatious nature of the show.

If dating sites use this logic, how many times daily are these logarithms run and how many potential partners are identified? Of those potential partners, how many result in them actually meeting, or having a relationship, or an intimate relationship? Crucially, how many people, with time and space given, actually end up marrying the person that the dating site says is best? If it doesn’t happen in the real world, why would it work in a controlled environment? Even when they do, are those marriages successful? It is a naive concept to thing that this would work and could be done ethically and it was opportunist of the show’s production team to exploit that curiosity. People generally don’t end up marrying people as a result of what a dating site says because it is generally a bad idea.

One general rebuttal that I’ve heard in response to this is that if the marriage doesn’t work out, there is always divorce. In my opinion, if divorce is something you are considering on your wedding day, you really shouldn’t be getting married. Marriage should be a rest of life commitment and not something done to get viewing figures.

If indeed, it were a genuine experiment and there was a genuine desire not just to make a television show but to see if an arranged marriage based on dating website logic could actually work, then the ethics must be considered. Given the subject matter of the experiment it would be wise not to use human subjects where possible. This is why, if it were an experiment, it wouldn’t actually need to take place. Given the immense human and emotional hurt, and spiritual collateral damage that could be involved in something like this, it would make sense, if the outcome could be theorized or predicted, not to actually use people in the experiment. In this particular case, it can. The idea for this show experiment actually comes from a Danish show experiment that has been exported globally so that there are several international versions of this show experiment. In all of the other versions the outcome is overwhelmingly similar. In the Danish one, the couples are divorced. In the Australian one, all but one of the couples are separated. The American one is the same. Therefore it does not take much of a leap that in the English one, at least one couple would fail and very few couples, the exception rather than the rule, make it past six months, let alone a year. A marriage failing, however dubiously entered into, is always an emotionally draining and stressful experience, as I can personally attest to having witnessed several of them break down.

In summary, this show has a really interesting concept, but it turns extremely dark and very disturbing when it becomes apparent that these people are being drawn into an obviously doomed situation, one that will undoubtedly damage them, and at that point, the show ceases to be a piece of fun entertainment and just becomes depressing.

If we strip away the illogical instruments of reason from this situation, we examine it logically and pragmatically. If we remove subjective elements from this, such as love, emotion, it can be seen to be hugely damaging in ways other than spiritually or soulfully, marriage is contract. It is a hugely complicated legal contract and one that can be enforced through the courts. Radmacher vs Granatino [2010] UKSC 42 is a legal case that declared that pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding. There is therefore no guaranteed legal protection for anyone from being legally bound to someone they might not want to be bound to. Signing any document, especially one as legally important as a marriage contract, should always be given due diligence and consideration, and to enter into such an arrangement with someone that one doesn’t know could potentially be devastating. I can’t see how they could have factored the UK’s strict marriage laws into the making of the program.

To quote the Simpson’s “You have given a chance for everyone to express love In its most purest form — a binding legal contract.”

Male privilege

I interacted in a debate on Facebook as to whether or not women’s sanitary/hygiene products should be subject to VAT. They shouldn’t. It really is that simple. My views though were dismissed as coming from a male privilege point of view. I found that sexist.

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I thought therefore that I would look into how much easier life is for men than it is for women. It isn’t. Thus I posted this as a response:

Well I don’t think tax should be paid on either, as they are both necessary but just to pick up on the “male privileged” thing, this idea that being born with a specific set of genitals endows a person with any sort of privilege is absurd. Sure the people at the top of business, sports and politics earn more than female counterparts, but that is only true for the top 1%. That isn’t because of men. That isn’t because there is some massive male conspiracy or a battle of the sexes going on, but the argument of most feminists is that men should, as a collective, be punished or persecuted for that, whereas if feminists looked at society in broader terms, I.e. outside of that top bracket, they would see that women actually have it far better than men.

From birth, girls, on average have £102 more spent on them than their male counterparts, on Christmas and Birthday presents in the first five years of their lives. Tedious point, I know, but I needed something to frame ages 0-5 and there it is. From five onwards, girls outperform boys at every level of education, from, infants, through primary and on to secondary but I’ll come on to that in a second. Boys used to outperform girls, then they were level pegging for a while, and now they’re ahead and the gap is growing. Anyone who cares about social equality cannot see this as a good thing. There’s no specific reason for this but it has generally been attributed to the fact that, in teaching women outnumber men five to one. If education as a sector is looked at (that is to say administration, functional work etc etc) then the number is estimated to be closer to six or seven to one. This is the main reason given, that in a female dominated environment, men are left behind.

So men leave school in a worse position than women. This is reflected and evidenced in terms of higher education. Of people in HE in the UK at the moment, 56% are female and that number, as a percentage, is growing. This obviously means that the 44% of male students are in the minority.

Outside of HE, in the workplace, unemployed men outnumber unemployed women 2 to 1. When women feminists talk about the pay gap among executives in board rooms, they seldom raise that issue. Personally, and, y’know, I may be speaking from a “male privilege” point of view, but I’m more concerned about the hundreds of thousands of men that can’t get a job, rather than the hundreds of women who can’t get a top job.

Men are far more likely than women to become victims of crime. The most common demographic for a victim of crime is a white male aged 18-30. Men are always more likely to be victims of crime than their female counterparts of the same age. They’re also less likely to report crime. They are also (and this one really makes me mad) twenty times more likely to go to prison. Courts are hugely biased against men, in criminal, civil and family proceedings. There’s a wealth of statistics to back this up.

Obviously those who defend our country in the forces, obviously that is a male heavy environment, which may be why, of the 442 soldiers killed in Afghanistan, three were female. I didn’t agree with the conflicts in Afghanistan/Iraq but it is interesting that those who said they would be prepared to and ultimately did lay their life down for their country were male.

Ex-servicemen make up a quarter of all homeless people in the country. Women make up another quarter. That is just those who have accessed homeless services though. It’s generally thought that about 90% of homeless people are male and about 10% are female. In London, of all rough sleepers, 12% are female and this percentage is thought to be smaller throughout the rest of the country.

I could go on and on and on, but do you know what the main cause of death amongst men aged 18-49 is? Suicide. I don’t know why, y’know, seeing as how easy they’ve got it and all…

Britain First’s “Christian Patrol” – Not in my name

There is a Facebook page known as “Britain First” and it started out as posts supporting our troops, and then slowly but surely more and more right wing, but principally anti-Islamic posts started cropping up. Outside of their Facebook page, they have become a campaign group actively campaigning against Islamification of Britain.

My central problem with it is that people started following Britain First to support our troops, and in that framework slowly managed to ease right wing messages in. People end up liking it and its populist messages and they get more and more extreme. It becomes a “brand” and one with appeal but it is merely a repackaging of some horrendously right wing people. Certain groups like the BNP, the EDL, the National Front and so on have lost their credibility as our society has become more progressive, and their names have become swearwords almost. The members of those groups want to get their message out there but don’t want their name associated with negative brands like the EDL, the BNP etc etc and therefore create a social media page without those negative connections being made by those viewing thus legitimizing such views.

They then show their campaigns and it seems like a “lads army” of grass roots support when in actual fact they are funded by big businesses with agendas with substantial backing and resources. People think that it is probably someone in their bedroom just doing this privately, but that is wrong. This isn’t a few people with a small operation, it’s an organised, structured, well-resourced political group with mission statements, policies, a street defence team and even a clothing line.

Britain First’s “Street Defence Team”

So, ordinarily, I wouldn’t give a group like this airtime. I would, under normal circumstances, not say anything about them or acknowledge them, but I saw something the other day that SERIOUSLY worried me. See, “Britain First” have a Street Defence Team and this team go around on the streets handing out flyers, that some (myself included) consider to be racist. They recently did this on Bethnal Green Road.

My ex-girlfriend is from Bethnal Green so I know quite a bit about the area. Some of the street signs are in Bengali. In Tower Hamlets, 32% of the population there are Bangladeshi and 31.5% of the population are White British. I regularly went to Brick Lane and enjoyed spending time there.

I don’t agree with what they do. I think it’s wrong. They are carrying on a rich historical tradition of going to East London and telling people they’re not welcome based on their race. In the 21st Century, it is Muslims. In the 20th Century it was African and/or Caribbean people. In the 19th century (as my ex-girlfriend (Jewish) would attest to) it was the Jews that bore the brunt of the “get out of our country” brand of racism. In the 18th Century it was Germans, the 17th Century was the Dutch and, well, I could go on. They aren’t the first group to go to East London and spread the message that “we need to kick these people out because they are taking over”, as people have been spreading that myth for hundreds of years.

During them handing out flyers, they were attacked, physically, by members of the public. I think it’s a little naive to go into an area, insult the resident population and not expect some sort of reaction, be that physical violence or police attention or whatever. It’s a free country and they are free to say what they want even if they don’t have an appreciation of the harm that it will cause and the consequences of their actions.

I really couldn’t care less that they’re doing this. It’s down to them, but I do have a problem, a pretty big one, with what they’re doing.

Hijacking Christian identity

One of the main lies that they are telling is that Muslim gangs are going around trying to enforce “Shariah Law”. I have never heard of this happening. I have never known it to happen. This seems patently untrue, but if this group has concerns then obviously they are welcome to raise them as they see fit.

What does seriously concern me is that they raise these concerns with what they call a “Christian Patrol” which makes me sick to my very core.

I, as many people know, am a practising Catholic. I choose to take a lot of my beliefs and life choices from my perception of the historical Jesus. I think that is key to my faith as one of the key tenets of Christianity is to live my life as Jesus lived his. Let’s look at the facts about Jesus’s life. It’s widely accepted by most scholars that Jesus was born in Galilee, would’ve been Jewish by ethnicity, would’ve spoken Arameic (an early form of Arabic), would have had some orthodox religious and liberal political views and if he lived in modern day East London would’ve been the sort of person that Britain First would take to the streets of East London with a load of leaflets in a bid to get rid of.

Jesus was all about inclusion. Christianity is all about inclusion. It’s about love, not hate. I can’t think that Jesus would look on their activities with anything but scorn, and that therefore is my view too.

Why does it matter what they call their “patrol”?

In the Catholic community we have to combat a lot of prejudice.

As a church, in fact Christianity as a whole, has been hijacked over the last 2,000 years by despots, terrorists, authoritarians, money grabbers, and generally some not very nice people. In order to justify and validate their hatred and evil they attach the name “Christian” to it. They do that because they feel it validates their views when in actual fact their actions are anything but.

To use a different example, some people in religious circles, usually in the states, have deep seeded prejudices against people of different races, different backgrounds, and people of different sexual orientations. We know that these prejudices are entirely without justification so to try and justify it they attach God and Christianity to it. In doing so, they make out that these prejudices are key to Christian beliefs, when in fact they aren’t. A good example of this is the Westboro Baptist Church. They use some obscure scriptural references to insinuate that the bible, and therefore the church is anti-gay whereas in reality, the Catholic Church is not only gay friendly, but there are even gay Catholic organisations and Article 2358 of the catechism says that our religious view should be to accept gay people and stand up to those who would discriminate against them. The problem is because some groups use that, and they are the ones who get the coverage, people take the message that all Christians, Catholics included, are homophobic bigots.

My fear is that Britain First are doing the same. Catholicism, or more widely, Christianity, does not have a fixed view on Islam as Christianity pre-dates Islam by about 600 years. From a philosophical Catholic point of view, we see that there are rays of truth and holiness in Islam (Nostra Aetate, Vatican II), we share common values (Pope John Paul II) and worship the same God (Lumen Gentium, Vatican II). Jesus is an important part of Islam, and owing to the universal nature of the Catholic we are inclusive of all people, as the bible says:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:44-45)

If Britain First want to communicate these views on pamphlets and so on then, it’s a free country, they can do what they want, but I would ask them not to attach Jesus’s name to it, because people would then think that what they are doing is Christian, and it really isn’t, it is anything but. I would ask anyone that looks at the video to realise that this is not Christian and they are attaching Christianity to it to justify their prejudices.

They don’t represent Christians and they don’t represent me. In fact it sickens me and adds to misunderstandings about Christianity.

The Catholics aren’t bigots, they are universal and accepting. Just bear that in mind If you come across one of their “Christian Patrols”.

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Maybe Facebook should have an “acknowledge” or “don’t like” button

Facebook has redefined certain words in our society.

Example:

The word “friend” is one of words Facebook has redefined. I was discussing this with a friend of mine the other day. I said to him that on my Facebook, I have (or had at the time, I now have one more) 132 “friends”. In real life though, I don’t have 132 friends, I have six friends a I would have defined the word friend before Facebook. Now, I have six really good friends. I have tops, twenty friends. The people that I have on my Facebook aren’t “friends” as such. They are relatives, colleagues, casual acquaintances, people I went to school with. A friend is a person you can call up and say “I’m feeling a little low, fancy a pint?” or someone that says “I see your down on your luck, let me help you out until you get back on your feet.” That is what a friend is. Not what Facebook says it is.

The word “like”

I’m pretty sure I have explained this before when talking about “like farming” so I won’t go into it but there are several posts that I want to acknowledge, or say that I am thinking about them, but “like” is a specific specific term for saying that I approve or am positive about something wen in actual fact, I’m not. I’m actually very negative about it. I “dislike” it. A fine example is something that cropped up on my Facebook today.

This is the post in question that displays, alarmingly, that a family is made homeless in Britain every 15 minutes.

This is the post in question that displays, alarmingly, that a family is made homeless in Britain every 15 minutes.

I did a fact check on this post (as I always do) and it checks out. The one thing I notice though is that 296 people, as of the point when I screen grabbed it, “like” the post. It seems, or at least appears, that those 296 people “like” the fact that 130 families in Britain become homeless every day. See, I can’t click like on that, because it unsettles me that up and down the country that many families, (which will comprise of at least two people) will become homeless. I want to raise awareness and show that I support the organisation, which I believe is actually what every one of those 296 people was doing, but I refuse to under the terms that in order to do so I would have to like post about a statistic that in some way appears that I condone that statistic. I think people have “liked” the post, as it raises awareness, but not the statistic therein.

Maybe a don’t like or “acknowledge” button is in order

What I want to do is acknowledge that I have seen this. I would like to acknowledge that I support that organisation (one of the few charities that I do support) and I would like to say that while I support the awareness being raised, I don’t “like” the fact that in the time it has taken me to write this, that five families are homeless, and some of them are likely unsheltered.

If Facebook had an “acknowledge” button, I would like to acknowledge that I have seen this post, and that I support the organisation, but I don’t “like” the statistic. I would like an option, other than like, to show my opinion of this post.

Also, David Cameron posts a lot to Facebook and he usually gets a few thousand likes. The comments denigrating him though usually get, cumulatively, more likes than his post. Facebook could save people a lot of time by just putting a thumbs down symbol there.

I realise that this has been proposed (and rejected) before, but I feel it is maybe something that does need to be looked at as it creates a disjuncture in or a warping of society when a word as ambiguous as “like” is attached to so many things. It doesn’t provide people with a fair picture of the world, or a correct view of people’s opinions if the only option they have is to like something or not like it. Youtube has a thumbs up, thumbs down system, why can’t Facebook have that too?

Time for a Millennium Revival…

Let me tell you a little story. When I was 18, just turned, I went to work in a nightclub. That nightclub was on Plymouth’s infamous, world famous Union Street. It was a dream job. Even though I was working, it felt like every night was a party. Every night I would get drunk, come home with a pocket full of phone numbers ready to dial up the next day, then I’d spend the day chilling out in the pub, only for the same cycle to continue again the night afterwards.

The old Millenium Nightclub. Soon to be GOD TV's Prayer Revival Centre.

The old Millenium Nightclub. Soon to be GOD TV’s Prayer Revival Centre.

Those were good days. Understandably, I feel a great attachment to this building, perhaps more of an attachment than I do to most other buildings in Plymouth. Some weeks I would do a 48 hour week and not think anything of it. It didn’t feel like work. It felt awesome. Pretty girls, cool guys, enough alcohol to drown a small Scottish city and big men on our side to remove people if they started behaving as if they were from said small Scottish City. The awesomeness that flowed through this building was quite frankly, indescribable.

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Me in the crazier days of my youth, at Millennium Nightclub in 2003. Partying all night, chilling all day, Good times. People never took photo's of me during my teenage years. Telling that this is one of a handful of photo's from when I was 18 that has survived.

When I first started my relationship with my longest serving girlfriend, the first place I took her in Plymouth was this nightclub. Words really cannot describe it’s importance or its place in my life.

I think that when a building was such a formative part of your youth, it’s difficult to let that go. It closed. Early 2004, shortly after I moved to Nottingham, the company that owned it signalled what had been predicted for a long time, that the club would close. My heart sank. I’m a Stonehouse boy. I lived in the area of Plymouth where Union Street was from the age of 17, moved to Nottingham at 19, Returned to Plymouth at 27, and moved from there at 28. Of course in all this time I was constantly returning to visit my mother.

It was a constant thorn in my side, that everybody in Nottingham, a city two hundred miles away, was singing the praises of Union Street for a night out to my then girlfriend. She would come down to Plymouth and gradually, one by one, like dominoes, the clubs folded, closed, shut up shop and were turned into other businesses. The take-aways followed shortly after. They were followed by the taxis and Union Street became a desolate, barren, empty place, inhabited only by main stays like Jesters, Crash Manor and Twigs. When my Dad came to Plymouth in August 2013, himself a former sailor from Nottingham, we walked across Union Street at 9pm on Friday. You could hear a pin drop. Ten years ago the utter mayhem that was going on was a sight to savour.

I’ve seen other businesses fill the void but the one I view with most disdain is that of GOD TV. To see Millennium closed and boarded up was hard to take, but the one thing worse than it being boarded up is GOD TV moving in.

I am a practising Catholic. Most (in fact all) of my friends are lapsed, atheists or agnostics but have no problem with Christians. Even as a practising Catholic, I can’t stand the fact that GOD TV is moving into that building. My own moral objections are several. They monetise God. They package God up and miracles and sell them to people, providing of course that person has the money. I saw a guy on TV going to a GOD TV event. He said “I wanted to come but didn’t have the money [GOD TV were charging £25 for the event at Plymouth Pavillions] so I called the bank, and prayed and then they called me back to say they could extend my overdraft, and, here I am!” There’s something very unsettling about an organisation that charges people to garner spirituality.

The other aspect is that they are religious extremists, taking the bible literally and ignoring reason and logic. This leads to all sorts of horrible things like homophobia, criticising people who need things like blood transfusions and abortions, old, antiquated and intolerant views that are actually quite dangerous and really have no place in a progressive society.

A letter to the Herald in which a man thanks GOD TV for his recovery.

A letter to the Herald in which a man thanks GOD TV for his recovery.

There was a letter (right) into the Plymouth Herald that is an example of this blinkered way of thinking. As a Catholic we are always taught to look for the scientific answer to the problem. A Catholic (Father Georges Le Maître) discovered the Big Bang, or at least was the first to theorise it, two years before Edwin Hubble. Augustinian Monk and Geneticist Grigor Mendel first put forward the theory of natural genetic selection. Despite the bad rap that Catholics get, they’ve actually done the most, out of any of the religions, to further science and scientific discovery. GOD TV comes along and tells this man that he was saved through prayer. This chap unfortunately suffers with Asthma, but I’d be tempted to say it was the nebuliser that helped him to breathe again, rather than the fact that GOD TV was praying for him. How on earth he was able to watch GOD TV in a hospital is anyone’s guess. Last time I was in hospital the TV’s had about 15 channels, and none of them were GOD TV.

I am really disgusted that these people exploit the naive and vulnerable for private financial gain, but I leave them to it. People have the right to choose, leave them to make this choice. It disgusts me to my core that these people are operating in my city. It horrifies me that they are opening up in the area of Plymouth I most associate with. I think it’s disgraceful that they are moving into a prime spot on Plymouth’s principle, world famous night life spot. It chills me to my core that they are opening up in the building that I spent my formative years in.

The solution

I was speaking to a friend of mine, an atheist, who I used to work at Millennium, about this. He too expressed disgust. I have since spoken to others who worked their and they too have expressed displeasure at GOD TV opening its doors at the site of the former club.

As residents of Plymouth, this building meant something to us, something deep and spiritual and religion, organised religion had nothing to do with it, but as of yet these people have been unchallenged in their actions.

This year would have been the tenth anniversary of Millennium closing down. I propose that we send a message, a very strong message, the Millennium way, as to what we think of these people opening up on Union Street. They’re opening a “Prayer Revival Centre”, and I propose we have a Millennium Revival Day.

It breaks down like this. GOD TV are a business that is involved in media. On the day they open, they are going to have a big glitzy event. I propose that at the same time, we have a loud, boozy reunion of staff members, at one of the clubs in the area, maybe Crash Manor, or Jesters, I haven’t asked yet. We basically have us getting trollied across the road, the way we used to years ago, to send a message to them that what they’re doing to our old club is unacceptable. People would be encouraged to come along, get drunk, share stories of Millennium, the club, the faces, the times and revel in what the building used to be. All would be welcome and we would remember it as the great club it used to be rather than what it is being turned into now.

If you’re a former member of staff, get in touch, it’d be great to have as many people on board as possible.

We can show these guys what we think, reminisce about the past and party all in one foul swoop!

Who’s with me?

Goodbye Forest, I’ll miss you

It’s Super Sunday. I’m sat in Walkabout in Plymouth with my friends. They support a wide variety of premiership teams. I say wide variety, most could be found in the top half of the league, despite the fact that those supporting have little to no connection to the team playing.

My mum, mindful of the fact that while I was in constant contact with my Dad, (he lived in Sheffield and I didn’t see him week in week out) took it upon herself to take me to watch Plymouth Argyle. In the nineties, your dad taking you to see a football match was a rite of passage.

My Dad always promised me that he’d take me to see Sheffield Wednesday (a mid-to-top level Premiership side at the time) and Nottingham Forest (a top four side at the time) but whenever I’d go up and visit him in summer the football season wasn’t on, or had only just started. Every other half term or Christmas or Easter was a no-go. Everyone wanted to see their favourite (at the time, only) grandson, nephew, great-nephew etc and so Saturdays when I was up there were filled with “do’s” where they’d lay on a “spread” and well, that didn’t leave much time for football. He couldn’t get tickets for Forest or Sheffield Wednesday for love nor money, and it wasn’t for the want of trying.

My Dad did take me to my first game though. It was watching the mighty blades, Sheffield United, playing Liverpool, at the home of football, Bramall Lane.

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Sheffield F.C. were, and still are the oldest Football club in the world. Players like Pele have played testimonial matches their to show their appreciation for the great strides it made to the game. They played their matches at Bramall Lane before moving to the small Derbyshire town of Dronfield. Only two football clubs have received the FIFA International Order of Merit. One is Real Madrid, the other is Sheffield F.C.

No matter how many clubs claim to be “the home of football”, Bramall Lane has the greatest claim. It’s where the rules were first laid down. It’s where people first started to watch and engage with the game. The actual geography of where it lies is that it is surrounded by terrace after terrace of housing. To my mind, I think maybe Loftus Road, Upton Park and the old Highbury stadium have people living in properties adjoining or facing the ground separated only by a road and even then it speaks volumes that it is usually just on one side. There is trend of moving football clubs out of towns.

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The world's first ever Football Cup final was played at Bramall Lane.

I strongly disapprove of this. I think football should be for the people. I think when that is removed, the football club no longer has a right to its history. It no longer has a right to claim its roots as it is detached from them. When Wimbledon moved to Milton Keynes, it was no longer Wimbledon. It was a financial organization that had players and wanted to move them up the line. MK Dons aren’t entitled to claim an FA Cup victory, nor the amateur cup victory. That happened quickly. With other clubs, Chelsea, Manchester City and Cardiff, the transformation is happening far more slowly, but is nonetheless, still happening. They isolate their grassroots support and as a result become devoid of the culture, history and personalities that shaped the club in the first place. This disconnect from their history devalues their club, not financially but certainly culturally.

My time to watch Forest with my Dad would come several years later, in 2007. It wasn’t my first time seeing them either. I did also go and see Sheffield Wednesday with my youngest sister, as Argyle away at Hillsborough, but that’s a different story. Forest have always been a strong club locally and of the matches I used to go to, the City Ground was usually at capacity or thereabouts. Attendance is the bread and butter of any club. Forest had that going for them. They were, at the time, the only European Cup winning team to have been relegated to the third tier of English football. When I saw them for the first time, with my Dad, they were playing in what is now League one.

If Forest get into the premiership next season, which is likely, I want them to do well. I want them to do well because they are my team. The problem is that they will lose their soul.

Me and my ex-girlfriend were there, when they were in League One, the third tier, traipsing across Trent Bridge in an icy November snow. She isn’t even a fan, but we still went to show our support. If they get into the Premiership they’ll have a load of fair weather fans from around the world, most of whom have little or no connection to the club. The mass of supporters will devalue the contribution that I and others have made to the club and this support makes my support less worthy.

Then these new supporters will want to watch their team play. A raise in demand usually equates to a rise in prices. Who, these days has the money to support a premiership team by going to every match home and/or away? Because demand rises for a team exponentially when they enter the premiership, most of their loyal fans are priced out of the club.

Then there is also the point that the club becomes an in demand commodity, which big business wants to buy and muscle in on big parts of the club’s identity. Nowhere is this more prominent than with the ground. Newcastle’s iconic St James’s Park is now called the “Sports Direct Arena”. Derby County play at Pride Park (well worth a glance if you’re on a train in that part of the world) but that has since been renamed the “iPro Stadium”. I feel that something like that maybe coming down the line for my beloved City Ground. Hull City’s owner recently changed the name of the club to the Hull Tigers. The identity of the club had been Hull City AFC for more than 100 years. Changing the name for marketing purposes removes the club’s identity and turns it from being a football club into a commodity. I can’t imagine this happening with Forest. Their emblem is a tree and river, and I can’t see anything they could be changed to. Nottinghamshire Cricket Club however rebranded themselves as “Nottingham Outlaws” for Twenty20, so there really is no telling.

One football club that had an entrenched identity was that of Cardiff. They were the bluebirds, they played in blue but when they got to the premiership the name was changed to the Welsh dragons and instead of playing in their trademark blue, the kit was changed to red as their chairman wanted to appeal to international markets. The fans who had supported Cardiff had their culture stripped away to turn the club into an international commodity. If it can happen with Cardiff, it can happen to anyone.

See, I love Forest, but if they’re in the Premiership they’ll be operating in a league with no social value anyway, little more than a financial organization with no sense of loyalty. Even if they don’t succumb to that, and a big part of me suspects that they won’t, they’ll be operating in that environment and slowly will not be the club that I loved. They will no longer be the firm social enterprise they once were and will, I fear, just turn into a bland premiership entity. For this reason, when they get promoted I will leave them be.

There was just one more thing I noticed. I watched a Chelsea match recently and all the fans were sat there quietly watching the match. Personally, the “bants” is a key part of football in my opinion. Give me a shouty, sweary, drunken fourth tier match in a hell hole of a ground over sitting quietly watching the team any day of the week.
Suffice to say, if Forest do get promoted, as I said earlier, my mum brought me up supporting Argyle, so, while I wish Forest well, Argyle will get my undivided attention.

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