Over the past few decades it seems football has gone out of its way to alienate the paunchy, middle-aged fan. Modern players are so lean and fit they look like they have been vacuum‑packed. The Premier League has become another Hollywood. Earlier this year the only hope left to us, Norwich City’s impressively bulky Grant Holt, celebrated a goal against Swansea by stripping off his shirt to reveal a body that looked like sculpted marble rather than the moulded jelly many of us were hoping for.
With Holt out of the equation and the reliably plump Adriano getting dumped by Corinthians last month, there is simply no one for the untoned spectator to identify with any more. This did not used to be the case. Once upon a time men such as Ernie Machin, Dave Mackay and Frannie Lee, all three of whom looked infinitely more likely to sink a six-pack than to own one, bestrode the pitch, while others such as Tommy “The Flying Pig” Lawrence stood between the sticks.