It's easy to be snobby about the national pastime. But in bringing together communities, the sport is every bit as important as traditional culture such as art, theatre and classical concertsby Rob Wilson, Dan Plumley and Polly Mosley / August 28, 2019 / Leave a comment
There is nothing like football to bring a community together—the highs, the lows, the local pride and the feeling of belonging and being part of something. When it unravels, as it has done at Bury FC, the fallout is devastating.
Floral tributes, a coffin, cards, flags, scarves, and handwritten notes have been placed at the gates of the beleaguered club—akin to the scene of a road death—after The Shakers were expelled from the English Football League on Tuesday night when desperate attempts to find new owners failed at the eleventh hour.
The UK football community is in mourning.
If Bury FC was a gallery or a museum, there’d be a national outcry—but football teams aren’t seen as cultural touchstones, or an important part of history, in the same way as our traditional cultural landmarks and experiences.
But that is exactly what they are.
Sport—and football in particular—has the ability to stir the emotions in even the hardest to reach. Look at the outpouring of emotion when England beat Australia in the Ashes last weekend.
Popular culture such as cinema, pop music and sport are every bit as important as traditional culture such as art, theatre and classical concerts. There is perhaps a snobbery about its value, but the reality is football reaches out and touches millions of men, women and children in this country every weekend, giving them a sense of pride, a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging.
Acts of sporting greatness are capable of touching even the most stoic, grown men in a way it can be difficult to understand—reducing them to tears when even the deaths of their nearest and dearest cannot.
Bury is the first club since 1992 to find itself in this position. Accrington Stanley were expelled from the league in 1962, reformed in 1968 and returned to the Football League in 2006. Tweeting their support for Bury FC the club said yesterday: “It was a long road back, but we made it.”