Long serving English Football League Secretary Alan Hardaker was typical of a certain breed of official and club owner that permeated English football in the decades following the war. While an undoubted aficionado of the game and a generally competent administrator, Hardaker was a petty, insular and xenophobic man forever associated with his utter disdain for foreign football – “too many wogs and dagoes” he told a reporter at The Times.
For a Yorkshireman from the ‘say what I like and like what I bloody well say’ school of straight talking, BTLM was unsurprised to discover a great example of Hardaker as a practitioner of what we would now term as wholly unnecessary verbosity. Idly leafing through one of Alan’s very dull Football League Memorandums from 1972 (yes, it was a slow evening), amidst the interminably bland proposals to reforming voting structures we happened upon this utterly unintelligible doozy:
“The UEFA Cup competitions are perhaps doing more damage to football than even UEFA understood, because once a club has reached a European Cup competition and the players have tasted success and what goes with it, the clubs who do not stay in Europe find it extremely difficult to maintain the standard of remuneration to players unless they are having success in other national competitions. The UEFA competitions have, in fact, created treadmills for those clubs who enter them and it is this treadmill effect which is now beginning to show itself in what is happening in the football League today”
The Plain English Campaign would have been all over this like a rash had the organisation existed in 1972. Only after reading Alan’s unwieldy paragraph a number of times could we work out what the hell it meant, so helpful as ever, here’s our translation if you couldn’t get to the bottom of it:
“It is better not to play in Europe because clubs find it such a good experience that they miss it when they are eliminated”
Now BTLM is no stranger to liberally scattering wholly superfluous words into our posts like rice at a wedding, but we’re quite proud that in this instance we can rationalise Alan’s unwieldy statement down from 101 to 24 words. Whether using many words or few, it was just another example of Alan Hardaker’s quarter of a century campaign to remind everyone of his perpetual loathing for European football.