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There Used To Be - Corrugated Iron

Olly Wicken looked back at the staple of English football


Back in the day, it was everywhere. Fences and gates, walls and roofs. For years, it was the answer to everything.

“Need to keep supporters off the playing area?” Corrugated iron.

“Need a stand at the Rookery End?” Corrugated iron.

“Need huts for selling teas or programmes?” Corrugated iron.

“Need to patch up the fence at the back of the Vicarage Road terrace?” Corrugated iron.

On match days, supporters were effectively wrapped in ‘wrinkly tin’, as it was called. Maybe players were wrapped in it too. “Need shin pads, Big Cliff?”

Looking back on the first few decades at Vicarage Road, the use of corrugated iron seems to symbolise lower-division football in the years before and after the war. Corrugated iron was functional, sturdy, and most importantly cheap. It was ugly, but it the job got done.

Things started to change when the club became more ambitious. Walls were built with brick. Stands were built with concrete and steel. There was investment in solidity — and in the way things looked.

Nowadays, there’s no wrinkly tin in sight. Along Occupation Road, where there used to be a tall black corrugated sheet of the stuff, there’s a slick black facade instead. It’s quite possible future historians may look back and think this symbolises Premier League football in 2020.