“You can change your wife, your house, your car but you can never change your football team” – a quote from the late, great Eddie Thompson. But I have. Three times. My eclectic taste has ranged from supporting the warriors of Scottish football Stenhousemuir, to their great rivals Falkirk, before moving on to Hibs and finally settling on Dundee United.
Being a season ticket holder of Dundee United for the past 10 years, I’ve watched numerous relegation battles, as well as a brief charge for the SPL title under Craig Levein before he fucked off for the Scotland job triggering the inevitable arse collapse and subsequent 3rd place finish - 20 points off the pace.
But the one crowning glory in the dross served up over the last decade was the Scottish Cup triumph over Ross County in 2010. You’d think that’s as good as it gets for a supporter of a provincial Scottish club with the debt the size of my ex-flatmate’s, who continues to attract the attention of the bailiffs to our house with her madcap spending – spending which reflects the unsustainable reckless ambition down south.
So why the negative connotations of the most successful Dundee United team since the glory years of the 1980’s? Well, the winning team included players with charges such as rape, assault, speeding and general “arseholery”. It was like supporting an “HMS Barlinnie Select”.
“You can change your wife, your house, your car but you can never change your football team”
And this reflects a growing epidemic in football where footballers have little to no respect for the team they play for and for the supporters that pay their exorbitant wages. Players like Carlos Tevez - refusing to come off the bench to play for his team because he was in a mood. Or Harry Redknapp. A man controversially cleared for financial irregularities – a questionable acquittal - which then makes him a shoe in for the England job to manage a team of millionaires, who are more concerned about their latest sponsorship deal than securing success on the pitch. “Stevie G” and the like will be lauded by the media as world beaters before the Euro’s this summer, then the industry that brought us phone hacking will proceed to dismantle their lives in the media when they subsequently fail to produce the goods.
Another thing that gets right up my nose is the under strength teams that managers field in order to “rest” players. I don’t know about you, but I’d be up for trading my full time University degree and business for a kick around twice a week. Footballers should take a leaf out of ice hockey player’s books. Being an avid follower of the Dundee Stars, there have been periods where the Stars have played 3 games in 3 days this season - travelling to Belfast, then Hull and back to Dundee for a home game. They knuckle down and get on with it. So man up you bunch of overpaid, work shy, egotistical idiots!
But does anyone feel that football exists nowadays solely to make money? When fielding the Under 12’s in the Carling Cup is acceptable because it doesn’t generate the millions of pounds that comes with prancing around for 90 minutes in a Premiership game, you then realise the game has lost its way.
Why are bank CEO’s vilified for picking up their £1 million bonus for the hard work they’ve put in climbing the corporate ladder, while players in the Premiership get paid ten times this amount for having a kick around for 60 minutes
As Manchester United treat the Europa League knockout stages as a 5-a-side kick about, I feel more respect should be given to the competition and to us supporters who live off the hope of a wee cup run every so often. As much as I dislike Steven Gerrard, my opinion of him changed ever so slightly when he said he’d prefer to lift the Carling Cup than finish 4th in the Premiership. When I was a lad, I didn’t dream about finishing in the top six of the SPL, I dreamt of lifting the Scottish Cup with Stenhousemuir/Falkirk/Hibs/Dundee United (delete as applicable).
I’m ranting now…I should probably stop…the anger is bubbling up. I’ve got one more issue to get off my chest. So I’ll make it quick.
Sir Fred Goodwin - figure of fun and pantomime villain that we blame for how dire our financial circumstances have become, is very much the main protagonist in today’s “Bash a Banker” culture. Now I don’t condone for one second the business dealings of “Fred the Shred”, but I find it disgusting that bankers in general are treated like dirt for the money that they earn while footballers continue to pick up their millions. Why are bank CEO’s vilified for picking up their £1 million bonus for the hard work they’ve put in climbing the corporate ladder, while players in the Premiership get paid ten times this amount for having a kick around for 60 minutes, before limping off with a thigh strain then posting controversial tosh on Twitter, which then appears on Sky Sports News on a slow news day.
This sends out a terrible message to our kids that the hard work that it takes to become a top executive shouldn’t be reflected in the wage packet, and therefore encourages our kids to instead aim for a life of playing the PS3 in the hope of becoming a professional footballer, rather than concentrating on their studies to fulfil the academic potential that many of our kids have. Lay off the likes of Fred Goodwin and Stephen Hester…change your focus to the footballers of Manchester.
So I’ve expelled some of the burning issues about the sport I love. I look forward to my next taste of football on Monday night where I’ll have to sit in a half empty Tannadice Park in the freezing cold to accommodate the TV schedules of ESPN.
Disillusioned with the sport – yes - but god I still love it.
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