An old chestnut popped into my mind as I rode the wrong train home from the meet-up last night. I’d triumphantly chosen the only pub in London not showing the football as our venue, and, having missed that match (I can’t say that I did miss it all that much) began thinking around time travel and catching up with all of the missed, lost games of the 130 years of recognizable football.
It’s hardly an original question. If you had a time machine…
I’d start with 1910, probably at one of Newcastle United’s Crystal Palace FA Cup Finals. I’d watch the greatest team of their era – the one that Herbert Chapman spent his postwar career trying to emulate – then travel back into Central London, taking in a couple of Edwardian pubs along the way to taste the beer, then ride the young London Underground to Paddington and take the pre-grouping Great Western down to the West Country. I’d buy autochrome film and walk through the East End. I’d walk white untarmacadamed roads and jump out of the way of the occasional passing car.
And then on to 1925. I’d watch and film Dixie Dean. Catch silent movies in young, unblemished prints, spend a day at Lickey Incline, cross the Atlantic in steerage and watch the ship enter New York in its golden age. Drink the night away with Armstrong and Ellington.
Then Portugal 0 England 10 in 1947; Arsenal v Manchester United February 1958; buy my 1965-6 Old Trafford season ticket.
And then back to 1910, park the time machine in a shed, cover it with a tarpaulin, turn my back on it, and walk away…