Nowt to do with natural history

I was sent this bit of prose that appeared on a Fulham Football Club related website - it does say an awful lot that I wouldn't mind betting that many others would agree with. I'm not a knocker of football - it is my number one sport of choice although I am beginning to pall with the whey-faced spud-heads that get payed such obscene amounts of money to perform with such pedestrian ability. That they get paid well is not an issue, but the current salaries are just out of hand. Our society has created it, along with high property prices and big business greed. Enough of that, over to Fulham FC... I may not agree with every sentiment, but it does get me agreeing along with most of it.

I FEEL so sorry for our professional footballers – icons of our times, or so they believe – as they get ready for a new, exciting season. I don’t think since l888, when the first football league started, have our pro players been so utterly embarrassed, humiliated and shown up. How can they ever hold up their arrogant heads again, compared with our Olympics lads and lasses? We footie fans, suckers besotted by the Premier League, have led ourselves to believe that our football heroes have it hard. We know, poor things, that most days they have to get into their Baby Bentleys by the crack of 9.30am, reaching their training ground by 10. They sit around in their flip-flops, have some breakfast, natter to their mates, ring their agents, arrange their sex lives. Then they go through two hours of training, sometimes even getting up a sweat.

By one o’clock, latest, that’s it. The rest of the day is their own. Then, of course, there are all those awful pressures they are always telling us about. If they are in an international tournament, representing their country, the public hopes they will try really hard, which is so unfair. We can’t expect them to perform at their best, despite their fame and fortunes, or take half decent penalties, or give interviews, or be charming to fans.

No wonder they spit and swear all the time. Ooh, it’s so tough being a pro player. We fans have grown to accept all that behavior, as our heroes try to rub along somehow on £150,000 a week. We give them respect, which is something they are very hot on, nay demand, feeling it is their due.
Even dafter, some of us have even considered them as role models.

Dear God, how could we have been so deluded?

But now, thanks to the Olympics, our eyes have been opened. All those lovely, humble, ungreedy, unselfish, sweet young men and women have shown us how sportsmen can and should behave. For four years, most of them have been up at five in the morning slogging away in the dark and cold, often on their own, for no money, little encouragement, with no fame, no fans, no groupies, no security screen around them. And yet, they have ended up not just nicer, more admirable humans — but also more SUCCESSFUL.

When representing the nation, they have actually won things, beaten the rest of the world. When did our footballers last do that, eh? Back in l966 is the answer. I wonder if our top footballers will now feel so guilty that they will all decide to donate nine-tenths of their income to charity, to promise to work harder when playing for their country and stop making excuses for rubbish results. No chance, of course.

In which case, we, the lumpen, pathetic fans should all decide that football will no longer be our national sport. What is the point of a national sport if we as a nation are no good at it? I think a vote is called for. We should decide that from now on that cycling is our national sport. Or sailing. Or rowing. Anything really, apart from football, which will have to go back to before the 1880s and become a purely amateur sport. That would learn them.

I was thinking about subscribing to Sky Sports again for the coming football season. But here at North Downs and Beyond we are going to say 'No'...


Gavin Haig said…
All very nicely put. Haven't the Olympic performances been a breath of fresh air?

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