The state of 21st-century football

In his day, skinhead thuggery was endemic and football hard men stalked every match in his day, writes Richard Tippett. It’s the teenage daughter of Carragher’s target I feel sorry for, writes Joe McCarthy

I laughed at almost every line of Anthony Clavane’s diatribe (Spitting on the grave of what was once a beautiful game, 13 March). At first I thought it was a manufactured rage piece, but it appears he was being serious from the kick-off. Having watched football for over 50 years, I can assure Mr Clavane that the game today is far more pristine and, I would suggest, more skilful than it was in my younger days.

Corinthian values were in short supply on and off the pitch during the 60s and 70s: skinhead thuggery was endemic, full-on pitch invasions by fans were commonplace, and football hard men stalked every match. Far from “not recognising today’s game”, Bobby Moore would have admired its relative lack of contact. In his time, Moore’s West Ham team-mates would shudder under the ruthless tackles of Norman Hunter, Nobby Stiles, Chopper Harris and Tommy Smith.

I was only a child when I saw Liverpool’s Ian St John knock out Mark Pearson of Fulham with a full-throttle right hook – witnessing this didn’t upset any Corinthian preconceptions or stunt my psychological growth into adulthood; it was just part of a Saturday afternoon’s entertainment.
Richard Tippett
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

• I agree with Anthony Clavane that spitting is “the ultimate gesture of contempt” and that Jamie Carragher should be punished. However, am I alone in thinking that the man in the other car who provoked him bears some responsibility too? Did he really need to repeatedly goad the pundit, and while driving? It is the teenage daughter of the target of Carragher’s rage who I feel sorry for – stuck between two grown men who should both have known better; and it was her, after all, who was actually hit by the saliva.
Joe McCarthy
Dublin

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters