At least the prices hit the headlines. The European Champions League final is to be held at Wembley this year and the cheapest seat available on open sale is £176. This is the cue for interminable meanderings about queuing up to pay 2/6d to watch Best, Law and Charlton - not that I saw much, short stature and shallow terracing had a lot to answer for in those days. Some things have got better. We used to sneer at 'armchair supporters' who would only watch on TV, now that is all many of us are able to do, simply because of the cost. But this is not my main complaint. If you look at the ticket allocations, 25,000 seats out of 90,000 in total have been set aside for corporate hospitality. Each one of those marks a real fan excluded to make way for a corporate junket. Something about it makes me feel queasy.
It was a sharp contrast spending a freezing afternoon at the Willows watching Swinton beat one of the pre-season favourites for promotion, Oldham, in a thrilling game of open, running Rugby League. Swinton spread the ball wide and overran the opposition with great tries only to be slowly pegged back by a second-half comeback as Oldham pulled their game together with some devastating attacking kicks and the aid of a heavy penalty count in their favour. Swinton held out and clinched the game with a fine 79th minute try to win 29-20. This was a real people's game, it is just that there aren't that many people. A crowd of 776 risked hypothermia to see it, actually an improvement on the last couple of seasons. I reckon that those few got it right, people forking out for the Premiership don't know the treat they are missing.
See the tries here