Chapter Seventeen – Comes The Revolution (cont.)
The torrent of Press criticism was rather different this time. The writers were much more positive than they had been in times of crisis in the past. This time the antiquated structure of the entire game was under fire and with it the conservatism of the administrators. Mr Alan Hardaker (pictured), the League secretary, insisted that if only the players would play better, they would certainly be given more money. This was pie in the sky to the players. The implication was that if only we were good little boys and work harder and not ask too many questions, we could safely leave things to the leaders, our elders, the men who had never played the game but somehow knew best, we would be rewarded by some crumbs from the table. All very feudal, all very patronising – but simply not good enough.
For those players who were thinking deeply about the whole situation, and often bitterly, nothing showed more clearly the lack of purpose of club officials than their treatment of what I would call the ‘vagrants’ of the game. These are the players who have no real feeling for the game, who are in it solely because they think football is a ‘soft touch’ and easy life.
They are the ones who do a minimum of training, who run just enough to bring on just enough sweat to boast of, who ‘hide’ themselves in a game, who never have a second thought to spare for club or team, who are ready to let everyone work for them, who are adept at not quite covering their man, at making your perfectly good pass look like a bad one. They stay with one club long enough to rake up some ‘accrued share of benefit’ – three or four seasons, then move on elsewhere. They are parasites who drag the game into disrepute. This has nothing to do with talent or the lack of it. Many of these men are quite skilful players and many players who have a deep love of the game and an intense feeling for it have to get along with less skill. The vagrants have been protected by the maximum wage in the past and the galling part of it all is that every club and every player knows them. Yet clubs have continued to buy them in transfer deals, the managers and directors having a blind faith in their ability to handle the vagrants, to make them change their habit, to reform. They buy them with some vague feeling that ‘he will be a reformed character with us’ or ‘he can do us a bit of good’ or ‘we know how to handle him’. Yet all the time they know he will never reform, will never do them any good and is beyond handling. Players are not perfect. They are just like people – some are good, some are bad, some are in between. I hope the free economy now in force will put an end to the vagrants.
It's All In The Game was published by Arthur Baker Limited.
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