And when he is, I get to write The Fan column in the New Statesman. Here’s the opening to the piece that appeared in last week’s issue where I crudely draw a line from a comic book character of the late 1970s to modern day fans paying £62 for a seat to watch their team playing away. Oh, yes…
You can learn a lot about modern-day football from those comic strips of the 1970s and 1980s. No, really. Not from the idealism of Roy Race (of Roy of the Rovers) but from the pragmatism of the lesser known Jon Stark.
Nomadic and mercenary, Stark appeared in the short-lived Scoop comic and was dubbed a “footballer of the future”. He’d pick up £250 per goal and a £1,000 match fee if his team won. He was a no win, no fee footballer.
OK, so those numbers require a few more noughts at the end and that “no win, no fee” bit has clearly been rethought but as a proto-modern footballer, Stark was pretty near the mark. I’m not talking about the full-length leather jacket, the checked flares or the mullet that was more Alan Biley (Google him) than Marouane Chamakh (and him) but rather the attitude of the 21st-century player.