Monday, 12 March 2012

One Club Wonders

Loyalty – A One Sided Affair.

The undying loyalty of footballing fans has always been a beautiful sight; masses of red sweaty faces chanting for their team and insulting the opposition. Those slightly crazier fans with painted faces and hair their clubs’ colours, who rearrange their life around the weekly two-hour-slot when their team play – this a dying loyalty that only sports fans know. An unquestionable vow we make to one team: to follow them regardless, to believe in victory when the score line reports defeat, and believe the impossible possible when facing a superior team. Obstinate belief: we’re the best, and we’ll sing eternally about it. Before, after, all the way through the match – we sing and stand together, united. What’s happening outside the match is, essentially, irrelevant. In the stadium, on the sofa, in the pub – that’s what’s happening. So why don’t the footballers, those we idolise, the ones that smile at us from posters on the wall – feel the same?

Players become accustomed to the idea of their self-importance, which gives birth to audacity; advertising for bigger clubs to sign them when they’re playing for another. Villa captain Petrov claimed “I’d swap with any Liverpool player because I’m a Liverpool fan.” Whilst it’s loyal to continue supporting the clubs footballers did as a child, it’s ultimately disrespectful to your current club and fans, who don’t deserve to be abandoned.

Footballers are enticed by lucrative endorsement deals and ridiculous salaries. And the club that signed them initially – that believed in them and presented an opportunity? Well, that was just a platform. They come, steal our respect, bask in our admiration, and move on. Leaving us wounded, bereft of our idol -wondering why our precious club wasn’t good enough for them.

The new generation of footballers are models and amateur actors – they’re on TV adverts as much as they’re on the pitch. Prima donnas who crave the spotlight from any direction - the disloyal ones.

In a billion dollar industry it’s unsurprising they only stick around until the next highest bidder. It’s nothing short of a travesty that we may lose one-club-wonders: those who play for clubs they genuinely support, like the golden generation Gerard, Scholes and Giggs. Approaching retirement, they’ll take their loyalty with them. No more welsh wonder tearing down the wings, no ginger ninja entertaining the crowd with his inability to tackle, and no scouse hero, whose free kicks still magically curl into the net.

Giggs’ devotion to United has been remarkably rewarded; he revels in the adoration of thousands and is the most decorated footballer in English history – is this title not worth the loyalty?

This is a world where men are allowed to cry when we lose a cup final, to hug another man in celebration, and not care when players slap each other on the bum after the game. But what they do mind, what is unforgivable, is a disloyal, straying footballer chasing fame and fortune, rather than the ball. But, this is now the world of football.

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