This year’s Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final will be contested between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday, 28th of May, in the grandest of all British stadia, Wembley Stadium. While the rivalry of these two teams will be evident, we have to acknowledge the significance of an all-Yorkshire final taking place in London.
The United Kingdom and France share a characteristic that other major European powers do not; in each country one city, the capital, dominates the political, economic and media spheres. Parliamentary and business decisions are taken with the capital, its population and its interests as a priority. Thus smaller cities and more provincial areas are often overlooked in terms of investment, growth and development. The argument is that we should collectively back one ‘Super-City’ to lead the country internationally. This would be fine if the majority of the country’s population lived in the capital. As it happens, it does not.
If the national media were based in a different part of the country, politicians would face wide mainstream criticism to the continued concentrated investment in one city. Journalists would be able to win over the population pretty quickly and apply pressure to ensure the needs of other regions are taken just as seriously. However, London (we will stop talking about Paris and France now) is coincidentally home to the British media industry.
This is what creates the sense of importance and superiority in the South East. In the majority of TV shows, comedies, films etc in the UK, the ‘normal’ character lives and works in the capital or another South-Eastern satellite city. There may be characters from the North, but they will not be protagonists. This shows the extent to which writers and media-folk living in London view their life in London as default and normal. Another example of this can be seen in comedy; the same way comedians can make jokes about the Dutch or the Americans or the Chinese, they joke about Northerners, as if they are somehow an ‘other’. Do you ever hear jokes about how strange people sound or behave in somewhere like Reading, Crawley or Watford? And in dramas, a Northern accent is often used to convey a simpleton. Ever watch The Inbetweeners? The cheap lap-dancer was Northern. So were the annoying Football Fans on the bus. So was the guy who shat on his bathroom floor. The media and entertainment industries have internalised the rhetoric of London-based self-importance and now distribute it to us nationwide, further compounding the situation.
The vicious cycle is complete; Londoners have everything they need close to them, so they do not need to leave. National leaders spend more time debating London’s problems than those of anywhere else, so Londoners quickly feel more important. The media speaks condescendingly of other parts of the country and its people whilst assuming it normal to live in London, so Londoners believe the rest of the country is inferior. Economic policy is chosen to benefit London and its industry, so the city grows further.
As a Northerner, you are told constantly that your city is inferior. It is both untrue and unfair, but you cannot take an argument to people who will not listen. Sports teams become a way to show them that your city can produce something just as successful and committed as their’s can. This brings us back to the Play-Off Final. Of the 24 teams (7 of which being South-Eastern clubs), the two in the final are from Yorkshire. Not only that, but the two Yorkshire clubs will play in London itself, right in the faces of the Londoners whose clubs were not good enough. Because of this, the nature of this year’s final is cause enough for the people of Yorkshire to celebrate a cultural victory over those who disregard the county indiscriminately. Cue the pre-kick-off chants of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire’.