The fact that, during the long years in between, the old identities curdled away almost to nothing and simply could not cope with the new world coming - so could only reduce themselves to the racism and thuggery that put so many off football in the 1980s - has been repeated far too often to need going over again here. But what has been intriguing me recently is what would have happened had the development of football grounds not been largely held back, except in isolated, piecemeal fashion here and there, for so long. It's easy to imagine a generation of stadia built circa 1960 with a certain sort of "Macmillan Pride" design - that particular 1961 stand at (heartbreakingly) Hillsborough that Simon Inglis specifically compared to Yuri Gagarin's journey beyond springs to mind - but what particularly intrigues me is what might have happened later in the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Might a generation who are consensually and rather lazily mocked today as "autocratic socialists" have considered football an ideal platform for the mass education (cynics would loadedly - and, yes, that is a pun - say "re-education") of the working class, and designed uncompromisingly brutalist football grounds? How would fans have taken to them, and how would both the grounds themselves and their reputation have survived the decades to come? Would they have gone the way of the Tricorn or would at least some of them have come to be regarded as modernist classics, perhaps with one being listed and symbolically surviving a la Craven Cottage?
Their full implications would not have sat comfortably with the game's new masters. Sky are equally desperate and equally determined to hide all hints of both late Victorian and early 20th Century paternalistic provincialism and 60s/70s socialism, albeit for slightly different reasons. A large part of me wishes that Sky had had a brutalist legacy to live with, which might have been even harder to reconcile with neoliberalism than the Saltergates and Field Mills. I'd be interested in anyone else's views on this particular piece of alternative history, especially from those who really do know this territory.