Fellatio, the Fifties and unfit footballers

I enjoyed Nowhere Boy, the film about the early life of John Lennon, but came away pretty worried. As if I haven't got enough to worry about. A girl calls John a loser, a term of abuse we never used in the 1950s; nor did we say "cheers" meaning "thanks". And we didn't say “I wish" in the way people say "I wish" today.

I also found it hard to believe that a schoolgirl would perform an act of fellatio on a schoolboy in the 1950s. Or perhaps I lived a very sheltered life in Carlisle.

I checked this with Rod Davis, who was at school with John in Liverpool. He was a founder member of the Quarrymen and is portrayed in the film. He, too, found it hard to believe. Do we have any sexologists of the 1950s who can put the record straight?

And also any experts on the history of football injuries? Back in the 1950s, I could swear we didn't have the amount of injuries we have today. Every Prem club now permanently has a long list of the half-dead and wounded. Arsenal might well have gone on to win the title but for Van Persie's injury. Ditto Man United with Rio Ferdinand. In Man United's case, it is now 100 games since Fergie has been able to field the same team, because someone is always injured.

Yet, today, we are told that players are all fitter and better trained, and have healthier diets and lifestyles. And we are told that medical treatment is much more advanced. Managers moan about all the games that successful clubs have to play - but come on, they have huge squads, able to rotate about three whole teams. You look at the bench and it's like the stalls at the Albert Hall. And during a game, up to three players can be hauled off if they have a tiny knock, which was impossible in the old days when no subs were allowed and a player had to limp up and down the wing even if his right leg was hanging off.

The game today is less brutal - you can't tackle from behind or bundle the goalie into the net - but it is faster and played non-stop. Perhaps that makes injuries more likely.

Silly boots that look like ballet shoes? Possibly. Those big clumping things with leather bits as hard as steel at the toes and sides did protect the ankle. In the 1950s we had never heard of metatarsal, far less fellatio.

The pitches are perfect today, not the mudbaths they always were by this time of the year. In theory, the old pitches should have caused more problems, with all the slipping and sliding, the dragging at the ankles, but perhaps, in a way, the soft mud cushioned the muscles more. Modern pitches get dry and hard. It's noticeable that many injuries are caused by an awkward landing, not the actual tackle.

Could it be that our modern players, like modern youth generally, are all jessies and self-obsessed moaners? Bit of square bashing is what they want. That would soon sort them out.

Or is it to do with modern morality and, er, sexual behaviour? All that roasting, dogging, ten-in-a-bed, groupies queuing up, desperate to please our young, fit millionaires. It must be very exhausting. I really must count up the number of groin strains.

More research, please. Meanwhile, I'm off on my summer hols.

Hunter Davies returns in two weeks' time

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.

This article first appeared in the 18 January 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Palin Power