The fan - Hunter Davies keeps hold of his tickets

My unused ticket to last week's game could yet be part of my pension

I have this half season for Arsenal, have done for a long time. I just follow the Arse. No, the deal is I only watch half of every game, leaving at half-time so someone else can take my seat. Joke. OK, what I do is sit there all the time, but I can only watch one half of the pitch. I have to close my eyes when the ball goes in the other half. Another joke.

Obviously, what I do is have it for half of the season, subletting it from an Arsenal friend. He has three season tickets, one notionally for his son, but he is working abroad at present. My half has just begun, in time to see Arsenal against Sparta Prague in the Euro Champions League. Good timing, because you get these early Euro games for free, in the sense that it comes with your season ticket.

But not so good in that it was a Wednesday evening, pouring down and it was live on the telly. Two hours before the game, my friend rang to say he had another ticket going spare, and did I know anyone who could use it?

I try to keep it quiet locally that I have a half Arsenal ticket because I'm supposedly a Spurs fan. Which I am, oh yes. But first I'm a football fan. I just like to see a good game. I rang a couple of neighbours whom I know to be Arsenal fans and they said: "Wotyoudoinwifanarsnalticket?" But both were going to watch it in the pub. In the end, the ticket was not used. Isn't that awful, a notional £50 totally wasted - except it wasn't. I have it here in front of me, pristine and whole. My friend gave it to me; as he said, it's of no use to him.

One of the strange things in football memorabilia in the past five years is the rise of tickets. Programmes have been kept, and treasured, since at least the 1870s when they first appeared, little more than a card, with the teams on one side and perhaps a couple of adverts on the reverse. By the 1900s, they had grown much bigger, up to 20 pages, with lots of fascinating facts, figures, articles and illustrations. I can spend hours reading my old programmes. Well, I have got a poorly knee. Good and interesting old programmes can now change hands for up to £15,000. Tickets, on the other hand, are totally boring, content-wise, as there's nothing to read. They're not even of interest typographically, as the same old layout goes on for decades. Until recently, they were worthless. Football fans just threw them away.

Now they have suddenly started to appear in catalogues and sales. I kept my own ticket for the 1966 World Cup final, for the simple reason that I throw nothing away. It's now worth £150. Amazing. Pre-war cup final tickets go for £300, according to the latest catalogue from the country's largest football programme dealer, Sports Programmes of Bedfordshire. By tickets, I mean stubs - because, of course, a bit gets taken off when you go through the turnstile. But my Arsenal-Sparta Prague ticket is unused and complete. It could be part of my pension.

The match, I nearly forgot, yeah, it was good. Arsenal won 3-0. What else?

There's a new sign up in Highbury that says "Kings of London", which must piss off Chelsea. And just to rub it in, the Arsenal crowd, when bored, start chanting: "Fuck off Mourinho."

Thierry Henry has a new trick. A season ago he had this habit of doing a sort of half turn with the ball, with his back to his opponent, which when it worked looked dead clever. This season he's working on a step-over to the side, as if he's going round a player with the ball, but in fact he has left it behind, stationary. The trouble is that he tends to get clattered by the lumpen opponent before he can retrieve it.

Henry, now he's captain, has got it into his head that he must clap whenever any Arsenal player gives a remotely half-decent ball, pour encourager les lads, even when a player is 100 yards away. It means he spends half his time with his hands up in the air.

Robin van Persie, now he looks really good, taller than I had imagined. When Bergkamp finally packs it in, Persie could be just the ticket . . .

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

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How can Britain become a nation of homeowners?

David Cameron must unlock the spirit of his postwar predecessors to get the housing market back on track. 

In the 1955 election, Anthony Eden described turning Britain into a “property-owning democracy” as his – and by extension, the Conservative Party’s – overarching mission.

60 years later, what’s changed? Then, as now, an Old Etonian sits in Downing Street. Then, as now, Labour are badly riven between left and right, with their last stay in government widely believed – by their activists at least – to have been a disappointment. Then as now, few commentators seriously believe the Tories will be out of power any time soon.

But as for a property-owning democracy? That’s going less well.

When Eden won in 1955, around a third of people owned their own homes. By the time the Conservative government gave way to Harold Wilson in 1964, 42 per cent of households were owner-occupiers.

That kicked off a long period – from the mid-50s right until the fall of the Berlin Wall – in which home ownership increased, before staying roughly flat at 70 per cent of the population from 1991 to 2001.

But over the course of the next decade, for the first time in over a hundred years, the proportion of owner-occupiers went to into reverse. Just 64 percent of households were owner-occupier in 2011. No-one seriously believes that number will have gone anywhere other than down by the time of the next census in 2021. Most troublingly, in London – which, for the most part, gives us a fairly accurate idea of what the demographics of Britain as a whole will be in 30 years’ time – more than half of households are now renters.

What’s gone wrong?

In short, property prices have shot out of reach of increasing numbers of people. The British housing market increasingly gets a failing grade at “Social Contract 101”: could someone, without a backstop of parental or family capital, entering the workforce today, working full-time, seriously hope to retire in 50 years in their own home with their mortgage paid off?

It’s useful to compare and contrast the policy levers of those two Old Etonians, Eden and Cameron. Cameron, so far, has favoured demand-side solutions: Help to Buy and the new Help to Buy ISA.

To take the second, newer of those two policy innovations first: the Help to Buy ISA. Does it work?

Well, if you are a pre-existing saver – you can’t use the Help to Buy ISA for another tax year. And you have to stop putting money into any existing ISAs. So anyone putting a little aside at the moment – not going to feel the benefit of a Help to Buy ISA.

And anyone solely reliant on a Help to Buy ISA – the most you can benefit from, if you are single, it is an extra three grand from the government. This is not going to shift any houses any time soon.

What it is is a bung for the only working-age demographic to have done well out of the Coalition: dual-earner couples with no children earning above average income.

What about Help to Buy itself? At the margins, Help to Buy is helping some people achieve completions – while driving up the big disincentive to home ownership in the shape of prices – and creating sub-prime style risks for the taxpayer in future.

Eden, in contrast, preferred supply-side policies: his government, like every peacetime government from Baldwin until Thatcher’s it was a housebuilding government.

Why are house prices so high? Because there aren’t enough of them. The sector is over-regulated, underprovided, there isn’t enough housing either for social lets or for buyers. And until today’s Conservatives rediscover the spirit of Eden, that is unlikely to change.

I was at a Conservative party fringe (I was on the far left, both in terms of seating and politics).This is what I said, minus the ums, the ahs, and the moment my screensaver kicked in.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.