Sunday, 1 March 2009

The Great Game - (for the time being)

I don't support Hull City nor am I a fan, in fact I'm a footballing neutral but being my local team, I do follow them with interest. I listened today to the commentary on the local radio and frankly, they way the commentators described Hull City's play - it sounded dire and relegation could now be on the cards after their dream start in the Premiership. They needed to win against Blackburn and get the three points; in fact they lost, at home, 1 - 2.

The late Bill Shankly, a dry humoured Scot and legendary Liverpool manager once said, "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

My dad was a reasonable footballer and played for Hull City Juniors as a young man and finished his footballing days playing for Cottingham United. Indeed dad was a good athlete all round, probably thirty years before his time. I've wittered before about footballers wages - I earn in one year what a lot of them earn in less than one week! But at the end of the day (another cliche - sorry) they are being paid humongous wages for playing a game which of course is now big business all round. It has, in my view destroyed the game I loved as a kid which was good honest good quality football with no frills attached. There's the big six Premiership teams and the rest. Big money groups and self made millionaires are buying up clubs for silly money and expecting to get overnight success.

They change managers like they change socks but have forgotten one of English footballing fundamentals: Football is a culture in this country and will not, should not and cannot change overnight. Manchester United have got where they have after years and years of passionate commitment. Liverpool 50 years ago were in the second division and have grafted with the same guts and determination to get where they have today. Chelsea paid to get into the top and found success for a while but that hasn't been sustainable as yet and won't become so for many years. Arsenal won't find that elusive consistent success until they start to have a mix of home grown and foreign talent. When will the money men realise that success cannot be bought overnight?

But then what do I know? I don't have the answers, I am not a tactician but simply an armchair voyeur into the world of sport in general and some fans think people like me shouldn't have an opinion. The professional world of football needs to have a damn good look at itself because if you're not in the top handful of mega rich clubs, we'll see semi pro football as the norm in years to come for everyone else. The 'great game' will be no more.

Ian Rush, another home grown Liverpool hero was quoted as saying, "It's best being a striker. If you miss five then score the winner, you're a hero. The goalkeeper can play a blinder, then let one in… and he's a villain."

Chat soon


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