The Fan: My Unused Ticket to Last Week's Game Could Yet Be Part of My Pension
Davies, Hunter, New Statesman (1996)
I have this half season for Arsenal, have done for a long time. I just follow the Arse. No, the deal is I only watch half of every game, leaving at half-time so someone else can take my seat. Joke. OK, what I do is sit there all the time, but I can only watch one half of the pitch. I have to close my eyes when the ball goes in the other half. Another joke.
Obviously, what I do is have it for half of the season, subletting it from an Arsenal friend. He has three season tickets, one notionally for his son, but he is working abroad at present. My half has just begun, in time to see Arsenal against Sparta Prague in the Euro Champions League. Good timing, because you get these early Euro games for free, in the sense that it comes with your season ticket.
But not so good in that it was a Wednesday evening, pouring down and it was live on the telly. Two hours before the game, my friend rang to say he had another ticket going spare, and did I know anyone who could use it?
I try to keep it quiet locally that I have a half Arsenal ticket because I'm supposedly a Spurs fan. Which I am, oh yes. But first I'm a football fan. I just like to see a good game. I rang a couple of neighbours whom I know to be Arsenal fans and they said: "Wotyoudoinwifanarsnalticket?" But both were going to watch it in the pub. In the end, the ticket was not used. Isn't that awful, a notional [pounds sterling]50 totally wasted--except it wasn't. I have it here in front of me, pristine and whole. My friend gave it to me; as he said, it's of no use to him.
One of the strange things in football memorabilia in the past five years is the rise of tickets. Programmes have been kept, and treasured, since at least the 1870s when they first appeared, little more than a card, with the teams on one side and perhaps a couple of adverts on the reverse. By the 1900s, they had grown much bigger, up to 20 pages, with lots of fascinating facts, figures, articles and illustrations. I can spend hours reading my old programmes. Well, I have got a poorly knee. …