Sunday, 26 December 2010

What is the meaning of football?

It strikes me how some people eulogise about football "it's all about the winning, taking part means nothing!!". It suddenly occurred to me that actually for the large part this statement is completely untrue. To the majority of players the "winning" - and by winning I mean actually lifting a trophy - doesn't come into it. Perhaps as much as 95% of all professional players hang their boots up at the end of their careers without a single winners medal in their trophy cabinet. It's a made up statistic, maybe it's less maybe more but the point is still valid. Do footballers go into their careers aiming to win every trophy or are they quite happy to be also-rans whilst earning more money than they could doing anything else? As an anomaly there are players like Ryan Giggs, whose hunger for his 24th trophy is as great as it was for his 1st, but for every Ryan Giggs there are 100's, maybe even 1000's, of Stan Collymore's, undoubtedly talented players but lacking in drive and hunger, those who will ultimately end their careers known as under-achievers. Alan Shearer, arguably the best centre forward this country has produced for the last two decades, shunted the silverware on offer at Old Trafford for an emotional, but trophy-less, return home.

What about fans? Is the most important thing to have a clean sweep of trophies come the end of the season? Unless you support one of the (now more or less defunct) "Big 4" in England or one of the "Big 2" in Spain, most fans are quite happy with a season that has a decent cup run, a few ups and downs in the league (ensure's a bit of squeeky bum action) and a win over your local rivals. Glory rarely comes to those outside the bookies pre-season favorites - with the exception of Portsmouth, but, hey, look where their moment of glory got them! So for every Chelsea there are dozens of Yeovil Town's, for every Manchester Utd - numerous Accrington Stanley' get the idea. In fact, if football is all about winning trophies then 78 of the 82 professional clubs fans in England may as well go and shoot themselves because you've got no hope.

Maybe I tell myself this because I support a team outside of the "Big 4" but it all just seems a bit soulless: Sacking your manager if you lose two on the trot, having your best players complaining that the clubs offer of £150k a week wages was insulting and demanding silly investment in the team as soon as the smallest sign of weakness is shown. It's not real, it's fantasy football and shows how much the game has lost touch with it's roots. As much as any footballer loves to watch the likes of Messi and Barcelona playing their imperious "games console" football we must not lose touch with the not so beautiful side of the game.

This is the first contribution from guest blogger Eddy Lascelles who is a huge Leeds fan first and foremost and a true football lover.

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