“In the marble halls”

This site’s title is taken from a lyric from ‘Kicker Conspiracy’, a 1983 single by The Fall.

In some respects, it’s an outdated choice. The marble halls it references were part of the offices in the East Stand of Arsenal’s Highbury stadium, which the club departed in 2006, in part because of the need to generate more matchday revenue, leaving the Grade-II listed stand to be developed into flats. There are also some elements within Mark E Smith’s lyrics that no longer fit with today’s football scene, such as complaints about a utilitarian form of the game, where “flair is punished” (in 1983, Graham Taylor’s Watford side finished second in England’s top division, while Winbledon’s Crazy Gang took the first step on their rise up through the league by winning the Fourth Division).

But, in other ways, the lyrics highlight the first steps in the shift of the game away from the interests of fans towards the “corporate-ulent” moneyed hangers-on: the “expense account”, the “lurid brochures”, “Mr Hogg and his grotty spawn” getting a seat and a hot dog.

Of course, today, when the fate of storied clubs with roots in very specific places and communities is largely decided in the marble halls of palaces in Gulf petro-states with dubious human rights records, we could almost be wistful for the days where the main complaint was about the local big-wig and his children getting to sit down to watch the match…