Tradition versus Innovation.

RENFREW FC – Match Programme

League – September 22nd 2018 – Troon

Tradition versus Innovation.

(Tradition)

So, Hampden Park is to remain the home of Scottish Football. Huzzah!

It’s not very often I agree with our game’s administrators and policy makers, but I do feel they have made the right choice this time. Whatever steps they next take, may however, elicit a completely different reaction. But for now, let’s give them some credit, and look on the bright side.

You see, I’m an out and out traditionalist. And if that means being regarded as a misty-eyed plonker who views sporting life through a black and white lens, then I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged, m’lud.

Baseball, athletics and especially football, when replayed in grey monochrome, all evoke in me, memories of more innocent times when the Corinthian spirit in sport was more valued than the size of car a sports star drove.

Sorry – I digress.

Hampden Park holds some fantastic memories for me. It was the venue for my first Old Firm match – the 1970 League Cup Final; it was where, three years later, I stood amongst the biggest crowd I’ve witnessed, 122, 714, at the Scottish Cup Final involving the same teams; it was where, right in front of me (well as close as is possible at Hampden) big Joe Jordan scored that goal to take Scotland to the 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany, and from  the opposite end, where I watched as Kenny Dalglish squeezed the ball through the legs of Ray Clemence to secure a 2-1 win for Scotland over England.

The first Junior match I ever attended was also at Hamden Park – the 1977 Cup Final when Kilbirnie Ladeside beat Kirkintilloch Rob Roy 3 -1, in what was incidentally, the first to be televised. And not just in black and white.

It was also the place that caused, to my initial astonishment, my nasal boogers to turn black for a couple of days after returning home.

And it’s not just me. Those who regularly attended the other end from me will also have a plethora of special recollections.

True, memories are no more than just that. They may influence, to some extent, but they don’t necessarily have a tangible impact on the future. Look forward, not back, and all that. And some may argue that is precisely what the SFA would have been doing, were they to have gone with the Murrayfield option.

Yes, Wales play international football in a multi-purpose stadium. And, yes, England play international football in a multi-purpose stadium.  But those grounds were built specifically to host various sports and events.

And as Hampden will forever be associated with football, so will Murrayfield be with rugby. No matter how many football internationals or cup finals would have been staged there, it would for a very long time at least still be regarded as the home of rugby. Not football.

Right now, as much as eleven decent players on the pitch, Scottish international football needs identity. And it wouldn’t achieve that at the home of The Egg Chasers.

******

(Innovation)

I’ve been a die-hard supporter of twenty-nine years standing, but I still get a buzz from seeing Renfrew FC appear on the back page of our local newspapers. I guess that’s much the same for supporters of Junior clubs up and down the country. And, of course, all the hard-working committees who spend so much time and effort trying to attract attention to their club.

A few positive comments within an eight hundred word article could just be the catalyst to bringing an additional three spectators to the next home game. Don’t laugh – that’s eighteen pounds the club wouldn’t have had without the help of a local scribe. A month’s supply of bog-roll for the public toilets, perhaps?

With the advent of the You Tube generation, though, the landscape is changing; opportunities arising.  An income can now be derived from advertisement placements on your videos. Of course, many Junior clubs film their matches and have being doing so for some years now. But in the main, they are for analytic and coaching purposes, and subsequent posting on You Tube will attract perhaps only 1,436 views (as in the case of Pollok –v- Auchinlek Talbot, recently.)

Even if advertising income was generated by match highlights between the top two best supported Junior Clubs in the West / Scotland, perhaps, it would be minimal with that number of views.

No, for this model to work, your club would have to be like Rangers, with 69k You Tube subscribers. Or Celtic, with 75k. Or Tottenham Hotspur with 337k. Or Hashtag United, with 408k.

Hashtag United. You know … the team admitted just this season to the English pyramid system. They play at Step 6 level, in the Eastern Counties First Division (South) along with teams such as Burnham Ramblers, Coggeshall United and Braintree Town Reserves. Yes – that Hashtag United.

(Their recent match against the middle-named team above has, at the time of writing, attracted 242k views in the space of a week. That’s going to equate to a decent advertising pay-cheque.)

Founder, Spencer Owen, is a renowned You Tuber and gamer, whose obsession with football saw his hobby of short film making and analysing e-games online give him an early grounding in harnessing social media for specific purpose.

But, in a shining example to a great many ‘big’ teams out there, Spencer’s aim is simply to maintain a sustainable club. At the moment, Hashtag United do not have a playing budget – profits are ploughed back into producing quality video content for their 400,000 channel subscribers.

They don’t make it easy on themselves either, as the ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos tend to give some advance information to upcoming opponents. That said, after seven games, they sit sixth in a nineteen team league.

Trends and fads don’t often hang around too long these days, but the ways of the world are rapidly changing. Who’s to say that that today’s ‘innovation,’ is not going to be the next generation’s ‘tradition.’

Perhaps in thirty or forty years, some geezer will be getting all teary as he writes a programme article about the innovative, innocent and humble beginnings of the UEFA Champions League winners – Hashtag United.

THE MAD HATTER

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