Saturday, 19 June 2010

No love affair with the beautiful game

It's claimed that England win the World Cup only when Labour are in office, but then there's only one example to back up that argument. However, there's no doubt that New Labour had a love affair with the beautiful game. After all, it was a way of blokes who had become middle class showing they could still connect with their working class roots.

Andy Burnham, now running for the Labour leadership, had an Everton ring tone on his mobile. Alastair Campbell, a long-suffering Burnley supporter, includes 68 references to football in the full version of his diaries as against 55 for the likely next Labour leader, the admittedly wonkish David Miliband. Tony Blair, who claimed to be a Newcastle United supporter, demonstrated his 'man of the people' street cred by doing headers with Kevin Keegan. Gordon Brown, a faithful follower of Raith Rovers of 'they're dancing in the streets of Raith' fame, is said to have limited his small talk to 'Did you see the match?'

It's all a bit different now. David Cameron claims to be an Aston Villa supporter (like Prince William), but it's unclear when he last went to a match. William Hague is into judo. Any awkward foreign customers had better watch out or they will be wrestled to the floor by the Yorkshire charm merchant! Nick Clegg likes to ski and probably judiciously avoids declaring an allegiance to either Sheffield team.

Of course, it was also top level civil servants who were into football. Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell is a supporter of Manchester United: it is believed that his Irish father was as well. At Warwick University he played for the 1st XI and also for a six-a-team dominated by Chelsea supporters called the Blue Strollers.


Anonymous said...

Believe Gus is in fact a supporter of Man U (unless he supports both).

Mervyn King is also an Aston Villa supporter.

Wyn Grant said...

After further enquiries, I have established that Gus was always a Man Utd. supporter, it came (I think) from his Irish farmer. He did play in a 6-a side time at university called the Blue Strollers, but that was because of his mates who supported Chelsea.