Beyond The Terraces

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Annual MMU Football Conference, Thursday 13th & Friday 14th June, Geoffrey Manton Building, MMU

Words and photo by Neil Harrison

FROM CHAMPION’S LEAGUE TO SUNDAY LEAGUE, the beautiful game is a national obsession.  The 2ndAnnual MMU Football Conference, taking place June 13th & 14thand hosted by The National Football Museum and Manchester Metropolitan University, is all set to explore the wider issues surrounding the modern-day game.
Over two days in Manchester, the conference will tackle a broad range of subjects surrounding football culture—including ticket prices, players’ wages and club finances—and how these issues affect the fans. Organiser Annabel Kiernan of MMU says:
“Last year’s very successful conference had quite a keen focus on community football and how it was developing at the grassroots, in reaction to the corporate, Premier League game. This year we are following up on that theme by adding in ‘sustainability’. How does the game continue to be sustainable in the face of the difference in finance at one end of the football pyramid compared to the other?”
“This year we have a much bigger programme, our keynote speakers include; David Connfrom The Guardian, David Goldblatt, author of The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Football, and Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. We also have an evening roundtable event hosted by Dave Haslam, at the National Football Museum, which is looking at the cultural aspects of football—things such as terrace fashion, and the involvement of fans’ organisations.”
“In terms of what is available to listen to it will be very diverse. We have representatives from key organisations and in terms of the delegate mix, we have an international audience this year, with people giving papers from Thailand, Malaysia, the United States and a number of countries across Europe.”
Added to all this, there will be live music and entertainment from local band Bourbon Street Beat  and performance poet and musician Attila The Stockbroker. DJ and Manchester cultural icon Dave Haslam explains why he is involved and why he believes football fans should attend the event:
“I’m personally interested in exactly what it is that makes football such a magnetic attraction for people that it consumes their life. I am also intrigued, and actually a little disconcerted, [by] the way passion for a team can translate as passionate hatred for supporters of another team. That issue of tribalism is a deep-seated human thing, but why? And what does it tell us about our society?”
“For football fans generally, I think our loyalty is actually being tested right now; with admission prices, absent owners (the Blackburn scenario is a nightmare), and mercenary footballers. I’ve been going to football matches for 40 years; the changes are acute. But I wonder what the future brings?”

For more info and booking please visit:
Neil Harrison is studying Social History at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is an aspiring journalist and a terrible guitar player. Read his blog LooseRiver and follow him on Twitter @LooseRiver

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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