'Sunday Bloody Sunday'. What a great song. It really encapsulates the frustration of a Sunday, doesn't it? You wake up in the morning, you've got to read all the Sunday papers, the kids are running round, you've got to mow the lawn, wash the car, and you think "Sunday, bloody Sunday!".
Due to commitments I wasn’t available last weekend and bearing in mind I only get 10 mins when we are thrashing a team I find myself in that horrible situation. I have become the point-fodder-player.
Let me explain; this player is the type you’ll give a run out to when you are playing Argentina or a team you know will trounce you. Other boys don’t fancy it much, too cold and too much like a cricket score on the horizon. Run out the point-fodder-players and you can at least say “we did give you a chance”….
Normally the quotation refers to my point and it’s to that I’ll turn. The role of Sunday football, or pub football, has changed massively. Recently I’ve heard it mentioned in really anachronistic terms by Stan Collymore and in reference to the World Cup Bid.
Back in the days of Kes, with only black boots and easy to employ offside laws, Sunday football might have been a recruiting pool for players. The urban myth of “my mate played on a Sunday with X and he was spotted by a scout walking his dog” was at least believable. In short players who were outstanding in a Sunday team might end up making it.
Now Premiership scouts haunt maternity wards, prenatal scans are used for tip offs and you can qualify for a testimonial at a club before your voice breaks. This has had many effects, one of them is to utterly make redundant the small relevance Sunday football once had to the higher echelons of the game. As such I was amused to hear a Collymore rant about how one of the reasons for the lack of technical ability etc in modern football are the hordes of lump-it players he sees playing on a Sunday.
Collymore’s an interesting guy and I like listening to his opinion, as such I was disappointed to hear this view. It’s so irrelevant as to be laughable. You might as well blame Springwatch for the dearth of English left footers in the Prem. If you are of a pro standard and of the age to play pub football then you’ll be at an academy. Occasionally the media tries to sell the pub footballer made it good line. Often players sold on this aren’t really that at all upon closer inspection. Take Steve Morison (Millwall) and Charlie Austin (Swindon). Both have been referred to as coming from the lower leagues and while this is true both are former academy players (Morison at Northampton) and Austin at Reading). Even the often cited Kevin Phillips started at Southampton.
I am of the opinion that football is desperate to retain what links it has with the guy plodding it in the park every Sunday. The boys own story is a great way of facilitating this, though it doesn’t really occur, even when it looks like it does. The only player I know who could be a candidate was Chris Waddle, he played for a number of park teams before stepping up. I don’t think that it is coincidental that this happened prior to the appearance of nursery-hungry academies.
The other context I heard pub football mentioned was how the word cup bid will apparently invigorate the Pub football lot apparently? Really? Conditions haven’t improved since I started playing. We accept pitches as they are, are happily surprised if the showers work and wonder what we’ve done if there’s any hot water in them. We’ve been doing this for years and will continue. The world cup over here will make little difference.