Monday, 13 October 2008

Football: rotten to it's stinking core

Can somebody please explain to me what has happened to football? I can remember my first game quite well, we came back from two down at home to Spurs with a couple of late goals and I was instantly hooked. The roar of the crowd, the lone voice screaming “Ooh, aah, Bob Booker!” which didn’t even rhyme properly, the excitement of seeing real footballers up close, men who would later become my heroes. These days, something is different, a lot of what I fell in love with at that young age no longer appears to be there.

Today I read that Kris Boyd has announced that he no longer wishes to play for his country under the incumbent manager. This is an absolute disgrace. It isn’t so long ago that it was an honour to pull on your country’s jersey and that even warming the bench was considered a privilege. Nowadays it seems to be the players who decide their international futures and that for me, is completely loathsome. I could understand it if the man were into his mid-thirties and had some sort of niggling injury and wished to prolong his domestic career, but to quit international football in a dummy spitting, toy throwing overreaction to not being picked for a couple of games is frankly, pathetic.

The correct response Mr Boyd, is to put your head down and win yourself a regular starting berth at Rangers and see what happens from there. Chris Iwelumo may have missed the sitter of the century, but he has earned the right to miss that chance by working hard for his club and scoring an impressive six league goals in five appearances. The most ridiculous thing about this affair is that Iwelumo has probably blown his chance for the next game, leaving Boyd an absolute open goal of an opportunity to win a place in the starting XI for Scotland’s next fixture against Argentina. I think Boyd’s miss is a hundred times worse than Iwelumo’s.

It isn’t just players that annoy me, supporters are just as bad. Ashley Cole is an abhorrent little individual, let’s make no mistake about this. Everything that is wrong with the modern footballer, he is a man who conducts himself with next to no decorum, is an arrogant, money grabbing philanderer but despicable as he is, he’s been fantastic in his England career and before he lost his focus with the move to Chelsea, was arguably one of the best full backs in the world, possibly ever. The reaction of a section of England spectators to his backpass versus Kazakhstan, which led to their goal, was thoroughly awful. As anyone who has ever made a mistake knows, you feel bad enough as it is, without having people tease you for it. It reminded me of the morons in the school canteen who would instantly treble someone’s embarrassment at dropping a plate with a rousing “wahey”, followed by a humiliating pointing and laughing exercise.

The people in the crowd are called “supporters” and yet it seems to me that there isn’t a lot of support in the stands these days. I hardly expect the crowd to cheer a player after a mistake that leads to a goal, but encouragement is far more productive than a chorus of boos for the remainder of the ninety minutes, it’s almost as though they were goading Cole into another blunder which, at that point in the game, could have meant 2-2 and a totally different full time result. Cutting your nose off to spite your face, good effort England “supporters”. If you aren’t going to get behind the team, why exactly are you going? It may be the case that many supporters are increasingly disillusioned by the players sickening wages and privileged lifestyles, but that is not a valid excuse.

Alas, it isn’t just International football, at Bramall Lane there are some fine examples of this seemingly new breed of moron football fan who sit just behind me and to the left. Greg Halford, one of our most creative players so far this campaign, one of the most intelligent users of a football we’ve seen since a certain Michael Brown, a constant danger from set pieces with his throw and a player versatile enough to be able to play in four different positions is constantly lambasted by a section of United fans. I wish I knew why, I would understand (though not condone) if he’d done something wrong, but aside from a few misplaced passes, I can’t think of much. I remember the opener against Watford coming from his throw-in, I remember the goal against Blackpool and I remember him picking up an injury against Doncaster, spilling blood for the cause at the end of a match that was already won. If every player in our side matched this description, we’d be top of the Championship. This isn’t enough to stop the fool behind me waiting for him to make a mistake, to permit him to shout “F***ing w*** Halford! Get him off, Blackwell” like the highly intelligent person that he clearly is.

Another of the Bramall Lane boo boys is young Nathan Dyer. United have been crying out for an injection of pace and we badly need a left winger. Blackwell addresses this by borrowing the young lad from Southampton to solve two problems at once and how do sections of the support react? “Go on Dyer, get after him! Get his watch”. Very supportive, well done, let’s make him feel welcome at his new club shall we? For those unaware, he was involved in the theft of cash and mobile phones in a nightclub. Obviously I don’t condone that, but I fail to see the relevance of it to the football pitch. By all means, slag him off in the pub, but when he’s got the red and white stripes on, you support him, it’s not rocket science. I won’t make excuses for him, because it was a disgraceful act, but I will say that I’ve done some pretty stupid things in my youth, usually whilst drunk and I got away with them. He didn’t, he served his community sentence and he paid compensation, so let’s get over it and support the team.

I also read today about the alleged match fixing going on in the Championship, but I will wait until details are confirmed officially before making any comment, but doesn't it just make you sick to think that it could happen? It's a subject close to my heart because the first time Sheffield United were relegated from the Premier League, it was amidst the match fixing scandal featuring the likes of Segers, Fashanu and Grobelaar.

And don’t let’s even get started on the Carlos Tevez affair, because I could talk all day. There are still significant numbers of West Ham supporters suggesting that their team did nothing wrong, despite more than one independent panel deciding that rule breaking had taken place and lies had been told to cover them up, confirming what any football fan who doesn't wear claret and blue tinted spectacles already thought. But I don’t hold too much of a grudge against them, they’re just angry about their club having to pay compensation, they’re no different from me being angry about their own club’s cheating. The real culprits are the stinking fat cats at the top of the tree, the clueless idiots with no bottle like Richard Scudamore, who is a complete disgrace and should be removed from his position as soon as possible. If he spent less time formulating cash generating schemes like playing Premier League matches abroad and more time relating to real football fans, he might have issued the correct penalty to West Ham in the first place and this saga wouldn’t have dragged on for so long, causing so much animosity between the two sides.

Football is rotten to the core, from the top down, right through to the fans. Where did it all go wrong? I’m pretty sure I’ll be taking my sons and daughters horse racing, if they’re foolish enough to get involved in the ugly game, it will be their own mistake to make.


Mountain Man said...

Absolutely fucking right. Very well written, and every word true. Just about sums it up.

Gavin said...

Agree with mountain man in a well written piece. On a lighter note re footie. I once went to a Rushden & Diamonds v Halesowen Town cup game and Halesowen were getting hammered. One of their fans challenged the Rushden keeper to take a goal kick and then run to the corner flag and back for a free beer in the bar after the game. The fella did it and the bollocking he got from his gaffer was worth the entry fee alone. Good as gold he turned up for his pint. That was class. I go to watch Birmingham regularly and it is a crap experience. Shit beer, none entertaining footie, no atmosphere since it was made all seater years ago and we are top of the league lol.
All comes down to 2 things imo. Money and respect