In 1982, as in 2006, Watford Football Club was promoted to Division 1 (yes, that’s Divsion 1 - we’re not going to have any of this “Premiership” nonsense around here thank you very much).
Then, the ground had a capacity of 28,000. Now it is 22,000.
Then you could stand in the rain and jump about like crazy when we scored. Now you can’t.
Then, the whole place looked run down. Now, it looks incredibly modern.
Then, the average gate was 15,000. Only Liverpool or Manchester United could hope to fill it up. This season I expect it to be near capacity - they’ve already sold out their 13,500 season tickets.
Then, newly promoted clubs could expect to do well - in 1983 Watford finished runners-up. Now, well, staying up would be fantastic.
Then, the best seat in the house cost a fiver. Add in inflation and that’s probably a tenner. Now, the cheapest ticket is £35.
Then, Watford was a natural Division 3 team. Now, it spends most of its time in Division 2.
The stand that was then the best is now the worst.
Then, Elton John and Graham Taylor had a plan to build a brand, spanking new stadium on a greenfield site. They were laughed at. Now, to all intents and purposes we’ve got one.
Then, there was a problem with football hooliganism. Now, to the best of my knowledge that is confined to the national team.
What does this all mean? Probably, that football is much more popular than it used to be. Or, that its fans got richer. Or older. And more Southern. Whatever it is it’s quite dramatic. I don’t think there was anything like the same kind of change in the quarter century prior to 1982.