Football: a working-class heirloom

Does it not occur to Theodore Dalrymple ("The new football fan", 22 November) that there is a far more obvious explanation for the rise of the middle-class football fan? Simple demographics mean that the middle classes in Britain have grown. My guess is that most middle-class fans were introduced to football, as I was, by working-class fathers or grandfathers. We learnt that it is a great game full of artistry, passion and entertainment, and go on to introduce it to our middle-class children, partners and friends.

Dalrymple's argument that lack of interest in football does not make him a snob might stand up better if he didn't assume that a traditionally working-class game was incapable of capturing the middle classes on its own merits.

Mary Wimbury
London N19

After Theodore Dalrymple's excellent profile of the new middle-class football fan, could we now hear it for those of all social classes who hate soccer? Who haven't read Nick Hornby, and aren't going to? Who are immune to the peculiar virus which sees this inconsequential pastime as something of worldwide import, and elevates its tedious dull participants into icons and objects of reverence? Who object to "news" programmes consisting of about ten minutes' football to every ten seconds of actual news? To pubs rendered uninhabitable by football on giant, inescapable screens in every bar?

M G Sherlock
London SW1

This article first appeared in the 29 November 1999 issue of the New Statesman, An explosion of puffery