Percy - Friday, February 2 Frisbee Football

Now I might well be turning into my Dad but I'm getting pretty pissed off with football these days.

There are plenty of things that make me reminisce fondly about the days of my youth. Muddy pitches, terraces, teams full of Brits, there are other things as well.

To be honest though I can put up with the changes (improvements?) in these areas although for all the obsession with getting perfect playing surfaces these days I'm not sure they are actually altogether beneficial.

Take Chelsea, for instance. They've just relaid Stamford Bridge again and the pitch is an absolute joke. It's not really muddy it's just rutted and bobbly.

Those are the pitches that cause injuries. Ashley Cole might have hurt himself on one of the old pitches the way he did the other night but it's unlikely.

In the 1980's or before Stamford Bridge would have simply been a mud heap the other night. Not the greatest for playing pretty football on but if you fell or twisted on them the ground would give and you wouldn't hurt yourself. You'd just be a stone heavier when you got up.

The modern generation also love to go on about the pace of the game today and laugh at the players of yesteryear.

In the first place there have always been outstandingly quick players but in the second I'm not sure why running fast is such a marvellous asset as a footballer.

Fair enough Thierry Henry can motor but most of the time he just ambles around like he's not bothered. Nine times out of ten Henry doesn't beat people with pace, he beats them with change of pace.

You don't have to be fast to have a change of pace.

Henry also dips his shoulder from time to time to beat an opponent. His style is actually much more like the old fashioned wingers of my youth (John Robertson) and my Dads' (Finney/Matthews).

Of course if there's plenty of space in front of him Henry does have the simple option of just outpacing his man but he certainly doesn't rely on sheer speed.

The trouble with the modern obsession with pace and strength is that 90% of the players, even in the Premiership, are just bulldozing their way around the pitch seeking to spoil and disrupt, flying into tackles without actually knowing how to tackle.

This isn't making football any better and is also just another recipe for serious injuries.

However, my real gripe, and it's really beginning to spoil any enjoyment I have in watching Match of the Day, is the new freaking balls.

"It's the best Goal of the Month we've ever had!" scream the presenters as the latest batch of long range freak show shots bend and dip past the helpless keepers.

"So frigging what?" I scream back.

I mean maybe all these players today could score from 30 yards with a proper ball with a toe bunger that should by rights just fly straight at the keeper and break their frigging toe into 97 different pieces.

Instead the keeper's stood there looking like a fool and the goalscorer is trotting off giving his stupid little hand gesture to the crowd intended to say "How good and cool am I?"

Now goalkeepers' have always let shots in when they shouldn't, even with the trusty old case balls of yore, but at least when I was a lad you knew that it was right and proper to blame them when they did so.

Now when Jussi Jaaskelainen lets one from El Karkouri go straight through him or Brad Freidel's grabbing thin air as one of Fat Frank's myriad efforts finds its way past him do we bollock the goalie or just shrug our shoulders and pity him?

Shooting from distance used to be a skill. You needed technique and timing. Now all you need to do is swing a toe at the ball and there's a 50/50 chance it will end up in the net.

I used to laugh at Fat Frank for shooting every time he got the ball but he was simply the first player to realise that you no longer needed to create chances to score, you just needed to shoot from anywhere.

Look at Ronaldo. He's a good player and could probably shoot properly if he needed to but he also realises that the new ball is his friend.

Most of his shots are aimed straight at the keeper but by using either the toe popper method or the deliberate slice he just sits back and lets the ball get on with it.

Jesus christ, it's shit.

I don't think you can tell the difference between a good shot and a bad shot these days.

I mean, that shot Steven Gerrard put in against Arsenal in the League Cup would have gone in with any ball at any time against any keeper but what about the sidefoot effort Peter Crouch put in against West Ham in the week?

It looked good but surely with a proper ball it wouldn't have reached.

And I lose any respect I might ever have had for the modern ball when Kieron Richardson hits a shot running at full speed, completely off balance and at full stretch with his wrong foot and it still turns into a blockbuster of Cecil B. De Mille proportions.

Yes it pisses me off.

It's like playing with a freaking frisbee. If you lob it gently your grandmother can catch it but if you put anything into it at all it's impossible to catch, you end up waving your arms around in the air like a jellyfish and then you have to run half a mile down the beach to collect the frigging thing.

At least goalkeepers have nets so they just have to turn round and fetch the stupid thing out of the back of their nets.

Of course we could stop using human goalkeepers and start picking dogs instead. They seem more adept at handling (with their gobs of course) the old frisbee and don't seem to get as pissed off when they have to fag it from the other end of the beach.

Watch Bobby Charlton hit his long range shots. They didn't swerve or dip, they went in like Robin Hood's arrows.

Watch Glenn Hoddle. He did used to swerve them but they swerved in a natural arc. The keepers didn't save them because they simply couldn't reach them.

Proper goals with proper balls.

Nowadays? Well, we'll just never know will we?