England, Brazil and me

The four-yearly cycle of hope and disappointment is complete. England’s early departure from yet another World Cup got me thinking about how much things have changed since the first one I can remember.

Everyone who loves football has one World Cup that seems frozen in time. For me it’s 1970. I was six years old when England won in 1966, old enough to realise that something important was happening but not quite old enough to realise what it was. West Germany 1974 and Argentina 1978 were memorable but by then I was a bit more cynical and England failed to qualify for both of them. To the ten-year-old me, though, Mexico 1970 was a thing of wonder, an almost impossibly exotic version of the game I played with my friends in the school playground.

Some of this is to do with age. As with David Hemery and Mary Peters winning gold at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 or Neil Armstrong landing on the Moon in 1969, it happened when I was old enough to appreciate what was happening but young enough to be seeing it for the first time. Add weeks collecting stickers for my Soccer Stars Album and I was hooked:

SS cover

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Bedrooms, football and the top rate of tax

This is a tale of two cities. Of one city and two different planets. And of one City and one United.

On Monday a wave of welfare reforms began to hit claimants and tenants across the country. Today the top rate of tax is cut from 50p to 45p on earnings above £150,000. For the connection between the two, in the immortal words of Carlos Tevez:

welcome_to_manchester

The city is home to the richest football team in the English Premier League, Manchester City, and the most successful, Manchester United (give or take the location of Old Trafford). It is also the bedroom tax capital of the UK with more than 14,000 tenants facing an average loss of £624 a year. They have lost a total of £168,000 this week – less than many of the footballers earn in a week on their own – and will lose a total of £8,736,000 this year.

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