GOING to a football match was not always so effortless.

Recently, I took my daughter to her first Blackburn Rovers match. It was a game we won and she seemed to be pretty happy so she had a nap halfway through.

I did start thinking of what it was like when I went to my first match back in the mid-1980s.

I am going to be honest. It was pretty scary at first and worse still we lost 3-0 at home to Barnsley.

It was standing-room-only back then and it took an age to get out of the ground.

Despite there being a crowd of only a few thousand it did seem there were lot more in there. For periods of the match, if you were a little small, you could barely see anything and had to rely on the next man cheering if someone scored.

The difference now is we have stadia – back then they were grounds.

Despite it generally being a testing experience, which included the really long wait at the toilets, I do miss that atmosphere.

The terraces were a little different and after a few weeks you had your own step.

The big turn-off back then was that a person of different colour tended to stand out. There was, well me, my brothers and on the rare occasion this other fellow. And that was it.

On the whole, few people said anything untoward as they realised you were supporting the same team.

The truth is, the same cannot be said of black players who received some serious abuse.

It was probably the first time I had seen people who didn’t realise the seriousness of what they were saying. The idea that as you were in the safety of a group you were permitted to say anything.

Some felt they had a right to behave like that.

As a child, I did find that those in the immediate vicinity of us tended to stick up for us if any abusive chant did begin.

Maybe it was their way of displaying their solidarity.

I do recollect once a gentlemen coming up to my brother and placing his hands on his shoulders. I looked up at the time and thought ‘this is it’.

There is going to be some trouble here.

He simply told my brother to politely move to the side as he had had a bit to drink and needed to relieve himself on the back wall. Football has certainly changed a little.