A teacher was absent and no cover had been sent. One of the boys asked if he could leave the classroom as he had caught sight of me passing in the corridor. I had a free lesson, so stood and talked with him for half an hour.
Going into the staff room, the teacher who had allowed the boy to leave the room looked bemused. “What were you talking about?” he asked.
“Football,” I shrugged. “Nothing serious.”
“Who do you support?” asked another teacher.
“Saint Patrick’s Athletic and Yeovil Town.”
“No, I mean real teams. Premier League. Who do you support in the Premier League?”
“Those are real teams. They are supported by real fans in real places.”
“Did you ever support a Premier League team?”
“I did. I even went to see them sometimes. I could go from Somerset to London and watch a match for under a tenner.”
There was a look of incredulity.
I explained that I remember travelling to Chelsea matches when I was a sixth-former in the late 1970s. I would have been seventeen or eighteen years old at the time.
The claim of a day out at a top football match for under a tenner sounds like a line from Tony Capstick. The lyrics of Capstick Comes Home include:
Do you know when I were a lad you could get a tram down into’t town
Buy three new suits n an overcoat, four new pair of good boots
Goo n see George Formby at Palace Theatre ,
Get blind drunk,
Have some steak n chips, bunch of bananas n three stone of monkey nuts
And still have change out on a farthing.
Except in 1978, it really was possible for a teeanger to go to Stamford Bridge
To buy a return ticket from Castle Cary in Somerset to London cost £3.15. The journey by tube from Paddington to Fulham Broadway was a matter of pence. A pie and a pint in a pub was £1. Getting onto the terraces at the Shed End of the ground was £3. There was enough money left over from a £10 to buy egg and chips for tea at Paddington station on the journey home.
It sounds a laughable sum of money, except it cost me most of what I earned in a month. I had a job pumping petrol from 8 till 1 on Sunday mornings earning 60p an hour, £12 a month – £10 in a day was a big commitment.
Many of the sixth year students have weekend jobs paying €10 an hour or more. Perhaps if I had said my day out had cost the equivalent of €160, it wouldn’t have sounded like a Capstick song.