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Why a Sports Hater Wants to Win the Games 2006/10/14

Posted by Daddy Dave in hacks, Whinge.
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I guess you don’t have to be a Glaswegian to back the city’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. You can do so at the website (www.glasgow2014.com). I am backing the bid even though I must be the only man in the world who thinks watching a sport is tedious and boring!

I simply do not ‘get’ it. A friend of mine got taken to watch a Newcastle football game from the director’s box. The poor sod doesn’t even like football, but felt honoured to have been asked along! I’ve seen this before; one of my recent clients was delighted to be treated to a director’s box outing at Ibrox, and even bought a suit at ASDA at the last minute! Another client of mine was thrilled to get tickets to walk round watching golfers in the rain at Troon! How silly is all that? They must be in denial or something; it could not have been much fun for them. Seriously. I have declined dozens of such business treats over the years because they are NOT FUN. Of course I had to lie and make up an excuse; it would never do to admit to a dislike of football or sport in general.

Sport is the con of the century — and what a money-spinner it is! I wonder if the audience can actually see anything at snooker tournaments — and don’t the games take ages? Tennis would give me a neck crick, and watching any motorsport, marathon or the tour de France is plain stupidity — you stand around in all weathers until something whizzes past you? I don’t think so. Face it people: it’s rubbish. At least with a radio you get some idea of what is going on. The TV is better, but even then, and ultimately, it’s all crap. For me, sport is about the playing, not the watching.

Football is particularly boring. I suspect that people have been brainwashed or else they are afraid to come out and admit they don’t enjoy it really after all.

I hate the whole thing — the sectarianism, the threatening, the roaring, the exploitation of the sponsored shirts, the fact that everyone is an expert on health, physiotherapy, tactics, rules, history, etc. Even the background noise of the crowd and the commentry on Radio and TV makes my head ache. It is ugly in every way imaginable. But it still plays a huge part in our lives because it dictates what we can and cannot do!

Take a simple and mundane example: Ruth and I want to go to the supermarket — if it’s ASDA at Govan, then we can forget it if Rangers are playing at Ibrox; a 20 min trip will turn into a 2 hour nightmare of traffic chaos. If it’s the Forge Market at Parkhead or even the Barras, when Celtic are playing at home: similar nightmare. ASDA Toryglen when there’s something on at Hampden – forget it! Even the West End when Thistle are playing is a waste of time. We can’t think about Ikea or Braehead unless we know what Rangers are up to.

Sure, we also have problems with sectarian marches clogging up the streets and waking the dead — and we have the occasional problem of demonstation marches and various mathathons and fun runs. But at least these are signposted maybe a few days before to give us some warning!

But it is football that causes the most trouble for us — by a long chalk. There seems to be an assumption that everyone loves football. When its an away game, it stops us enjoying a meal, or having a drink in a pub because the big screens come out for the crowds. It’s much worse when it’s a home game. Much worse.

  • The two biggest teams in the country are based within a couple of miles of each other, the national stadium and us!

Because these two teams dominate in turn, there are always European games on top of league and cup games. This brings in foreign fans, and it’s the same with home internationals. In any case, it’s football, football, football on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday through most of the year. It’s worse when Celtic, Rangers or Scotland do well as it extends the football ‘season’.

The fans pour onto the roads, fill all the car parks and kerbsides, and public transport is choked. Police turn off the traffic lights and control the traffic by hand. Signs are made, millions of cones spilled, and still cars are towed away.

There is the aftermath — all the taxis are taken, no fast food deliveries, restaurants and bars filled to bursting, and the Accident and Emergency rooms at hospitals overflowing. It really does affect life in general. And don’t think for a minute that I am exaggerating the impact of this, just look at the numbers.
Glasgow has 600 thousand residents, all trying to go about their business as usual, but add to this the bus-loads travelling in for Ikea (honestly!), the tourists, and the out-of-towners coming in to shop at the massive or upmarket shopping malls — the Fort, Braehead, Xscape, Pollok Centre, St.Enoch’s, Prince’s Square, Buchanan Galleries, the Italian centre, the Argyll Arcade, Merchant Square, or the bargain hunters scouring the large markets at the Forge, the Barras, The Savoy, Sauchiehall Street Centre, and de Courcey’s arcade.

Without considering the museums, concerts and other attractions, it is clear that the city cannot cope with football as well as everything else; when there is a game on everything grinds to a halt. Look at the stats (from the stadium guide.com) : 61 thousand for Celtic’s stadium, 52 thousand for the National Stadium at Hampden, 50 thousand for Rangers’s stadium, 13 thousand for Partick Thistle’s stadium, and even though St.Mirren’s stadium of 11 thousand is in Paisley, so is Glasgow Airport. Paisley is part of the Greater Glasgow conurbation and so greatly affects the city and all forms of transport. That’s a LOT OF PEOPLE spontaneously wanting to travel somewhere else; only some of them are Glaswegians.

  • Take 61000 fans, say half were visitors — that’s 30500 people trying to get away from Glasgow city at the same time. A coach takes 70 people, so 200 coaches would account for 14000 visitors, at four to a car, allowing 2000 cars only accounts for 8000 visitors… which still leaves 8500 visitors walking the streets trying to get buses, undergrounds and trains along with the 30500 local Celtic supporters.
  • Putting it another way, if one football fan left the city each second after the game, it would take nearly 17 hours to clear the crowd

The biggest problem is Ibrox; it seems to be a hub for all transport! It is near to the Clyde Tunnel and is served by the underground and rail system. However, it is extremely close to the M8 /A8 — which is a partial motorway that links Glasgow Airport with Edinburgh Airport and involves the infamous Kingston Bridge. When Rangers play, cars are parked on the hard shoulder! Ibrox is also where the new M77 link to Prestwick Airport starts! It really is the point of connection for everything — except that is for the one other motorway, and that begins near Hampden and Celtic — the M73/M74 to England! The town planners should be bitch-slapped for messing it up so badly.

OK, the authorities seem to alternate Celtic’s and Rangers’s home games, but it only takes some rain, some road works or a small accident for chaos to ensue.

  • The worst jam I can recall was one Wednesday evening, when my 35 minute journey took 5 hours because (a) Rangers were playing at home (b) there was a fire on a city centre street, (c) it was raining, (d) there were road works on the Kingston Bridge, (e) there was a rock concert at Hampden.

I do not understand why the only two stadiums in the whole country with 5 star rankings are so close to each other and both within residential areas! If they couldn’t move Ibrox (due to historical loyalties etc), then a new National Stadium could have been located almost anywhere in Scotland — perhaps a greenfield site nearer Prestwick airport and the M77, with good car parking and rail links would have made better sense.

Oh well, I suppose we have to live with these big stadia, but why can’t we get some helpful information — some traffic warnings; I pulled off the M8 one evening recently to get stuck in Ibrox traffic — had the overhead signs warned me (instead of saying “Tiredness Kills”) then I would have taken the next exit and got home 30 minutes sooner!

My ideas on ways to improve transport in the city:

  • People come to their sense and realise sport is for playing not watching
  • Celtic and Rangers merge into a single Glasgow club
  • Celtic and Rangers share a stadium
  • Be rid of the Scottish leagues and have a British league and national team, or
  • A national stadium be located out of town with good car parking, and travel

And if those are unthinkable then how about…

  • Building rail or underground links to all three airports
  • Extending the underground system to the Burrell Collection, Celtic Park etc
  • Make the M8 a motorway all the way to Edinburgh
  • Fix the broken motorway link between the M8 and the new M77 at Ibrox

And if these are too expensive in such an underpopulated city, then how about:

  • Having flexible bypass routes — for example, when football is on, certain one-way streets become temporarily two-way, or streets that are blocked off, are opened up for a few hours to release congestion, bus gates and bus/taxi only routes opened up temporarily and so forth.
  • Remove cycle lanes and traffic calming measures; they are not required when there is such congestion!
  • Build car parking facilities near football stadia.

At the very least, could we have:

  • Better local information — signs, Motorway gantry messages
  • Better media warnings — news, internet, text alerts, gps
  • Less games — why play on Sunday?

Glasgow has bid for the 2014 Commonwealth games… and has plans for an Athletes’ Village in the East end, near Celtic and Hampden. It is undoubtedly true that that part of Glasgow has been neglected in the grand schemes of late (the canals/ Little Venice, the West End retail village, the Media Park on the South Bank, extending Glasgow Airport, Glasgow harbour, the Clyde Arc, Elphinstone Place (Tallest Building in Scotland), the Anderston Hotels, the Riverside Museum of Transport, the bid for the Super Casino, there are even plans for Toryglen next to Hampden Park — after the TV advertisers paint bombed it), but the big deal for me is the promise of IMPROVED INFRASTRUCTURE and TRANSPORT.

The Commonwealth Games may be our only chance to fix the increasingly dreadful roads and transport system. We will know if the city has been successful in one year’s time, if we are, then work can start. If we fail — then we will be doomed to a city expanding and being refurbished and developed on a flawed traffic and transport system. Thus congestion and frustration will increase because more people will work, play and live in the city — we will become like a mini-London.

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Comments»

1. Ian - 2006/11/03

but you posted that you watched the world cup

2. Daddy Dave - 2006/11/06

Yes, sometimes I have to at least pretend to be sociable.

3. Third Rake Comics - 2006/11/23

Awesome Post!

Third Rake webcomic


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