Originally published on skillful, stylish, likes-a-pint football website The Two Unfortunates
As pointed out by Lanterne Rouge in his fine and much appreciated review – http://bit.ly/vvOMvT – of my book, Kissing The Badge, there are enough former Premier League clubs currently scattered around the Football League to give the competition – and my publication – wider relevance.
That was certainly part of my thinking as I pitched the idea to the publisher. There are 20 clubs in the Premier League and 25 former members at various levels of the three lower divisions – or 26 given the origins of MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon.
So while it’s a celebration of the Premier League as we approach the 20th season, Kissing The Badge also recognises that some of the most interesting stories are around clubs who haven’t been at the top for years, and will probably never return.
It covers some of the magical moments of the last 19 seasons but also pauses for reflection on some of the excesses. I still believe that every fan wants to see their team make it to the Premier League, if only because that is the logical conclusion of wanting your team to win every game they play.
But at the same time I believe those fans who would celebrate the ultimate promotion in the wildest fashion also take a more measured view – that if they have to stay a bit longer in the Championship at least the club may be more financially secure.
That was the view last season among many of my fellow Hull City supporters. They wouldn’t swap the memories of a Wembley win and two Premier League seasons for anything, but they had no qualms about missing out on the play-offs if a period of consolidation would allow time to put the finances in order.
The worry now though is that the money madness is spreading, with the sort of imbalance previously confined to the Premier League now seeping into the Championship.
In theory that might not be a bad thing if Championship teams are better able to challenge those relegated from the top flight, but ultimately if we find ourselves with 30 or so well-funded clubs someone will come along with a plan for Premier Two, and where will that leave the Scunthorpes and Peterboroughs?
This appreciation of the need for football to provide a route to stardom for so-called unfashionable clubs was part of the project’s appeal when it came to putting together Kissing The Badge – written by a Hull City fan, published by a Watford fan, illustrated by a Cambridge United fan.
I can’t speak for my colleagues on the project but I’m only too aware that during the club’s recent history Hull City have had more in common with the likes of York City and Mansfield Town than with Arsenal and Chelsea. Or even Bolton and Fulham.
Another relegation – which was very much on the cards for the first two months of last season – would take City another step closer to the level at which they suffered humbling home defeats against the likes of Luton Town and Lincoln City.
So it was a pleasure to look once again at the dizzying achievements of Swindon Town, promoted into the second Premier League season, Oldham Athletic, defying gravity at the end of the first season, and Bradford City, final day survivors in their first season. And a few more. The Premier League – and Kissing The Badge – would be poorer without them.
And it threw the interviewer in a recent chat on Radio London. Asked which Premier League players I thought might make the grade as managers I had to reply that I didn’t really know because I’d spent most of the last 20 years watching Hull City.