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Why history lessons should be confined to the past

Tuesday 26th July 2011
THERE are certain meaningless phrases that have crept into the English language.

Like when someone describes themselves as 'doing exactly what is says on the tin'. What are you really supposed to take from that?

Possibly the most annoying empty soundbite that has taken its place alongside football's ubiquitous cliches is describing a club as having 'history'.

It's not entirely clear who the clubs are without absolutely no history - even relative new boys such as MK Dons or Wigan Athletic can trace their roots back a long way.

But it's not simply a question of longevity. The great and the good aren't going to join Sheffield FC because of their 150-odd years.

It's down to quality of history. This basically means winning trophies.

But again this is open to interpretation.

For instance, Huddersfield Town's hat-trick of titles in the 1920s won't mark them out for a mention.

It only counts if you've won trophies after TVs became commonplace.

Sadly, chief culprits for harping on about history are the Merseyside clubs.

It must be painful for Liverpool fans, who have enjoyed years of glory to see their clubs slip down the pecking order.

But they curmudgeonly dismiss some of their usurpers as 'having no history' rather than recognising the cyclical pattern of success that a cursory look at a list of league winners would show.

Why would a player choose to join Manchester City or Chelsea rather than Liverpool, they have no history? It's all about money - ignoring the fact that two of those clubs are in the Champions League and one, more importantly, isn't.

And it's even worse for neighbours Everton, whose triumphs are a memory as they sit in the midst of a period of mediocrity as a Premier League also-ran.

Before every home game, the jumbotron relays constant reruns of great goals and games from the 60s, 70s and 80s. But you'll struggle to see anything from the last 12 months.

You wonder what the response would be if you asked a fan, 'Would you like to watch today's game or shall we fill the 90 minutes with clips of Alan Ball, Trevor Steven and John Toshack?'

'And if you know your history, it's enough to make your heart go oh, ooh, ooh!' sings the Gladys Street.

I know a little about history and some of the bits that make my heart go oh, ooh, ooh may involve Everton.

But no more than Torquay United or Carlisle United or any other club.
Jonathan Smith

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