George Best and Super Gran at Appleby Park, North Shields c.1984. The photo has only vague relevance to the following piece about the insidious effects of nostalgia, but somehow I just knew you wanted to see it. Thanks to Dan Jackson for sending it me.
Sport has a habit of making competitors age prematurely. It can have the same effect of fans too. though the effects are more psychological than physical. Quicker than anything else except pop music, sport turns us into our parents.
It happened with my mate John the other day. One minute he was talking perfectly normally, then suddenly he metaphorically wrinkled before my eyes. He said, 'They don't bustle anymore, do they, centre-forwards?'
I shouldn't have been surprised really. I have seen it all before. John has just turned 40. That is the danger time. Before that you are full of youthful zest, but as you enter your fifth decade doubts start to set in. The players begin to look irritatingly young and slender and their names are harder to remember. You start to think about getting a seat nearer the exits so you can nip away before the final whistle and avoid the traffic. By 45 you have become your Dad.
Like alcoholism, nostalgia takes hold slowly. You start off with a few low-strength remarks about the wonders of Stanley Bowles and end up in dark basements pointing at images of Lionel Messi and saying 'He wouldn't have lasted five seconds with Stuart Boam'.