No more heroes left in the game

Posted by Tarpaulin on January 26, 2005, 01:41:43 PM

The ball was methodically played forward, it was the first 30 seconds of the game, the ball breaks from one legend to another and with a sweet strike, that many fans had become accustomed to, the ball swerved from left to right into the corner of the net. Not even a minute gone and Dalglish had put Liverpool one-nil up against nearest rivals Everton.

The players all came together, screaming in celebration. It meant as much to them as it did to us, they knew they were privileged to play professional football, and to do it at a club like Liverpool FC where there was so much passion, pride and unity made it all the more sweeter.

If you were ever lucky enough to meet any of these great players, they would smile and look you in the eye. Most happy to sign what ever you put in front of them, happy to know that 2 seconds of their time would last a lifetime for the fan on the receiving end. Knowing that the fella who's eyes were lit up to see his kid get a pat on the head from a player at the club where they spent their hard earned wage just to see them each week, was worth more than any money he could earn or want.

This is the start of my era of football, and so I naturally begin here. Obviously my dad and people older than me have similar memories and feelings for the players in their day. It was something that seemed to just happen naturally through the ages. After all, "they are just people like you and me just with a God given gift. Nothing else".

In those early years of my football education, I made it my duty to learn as much about the players as I did about the club. The players made the club, but they all knew that none of them was bigger than the people who 'employed' them. Wooltonian graphically demonstrated this in a previous article on RAWK about his experiences of a brief meeting with Phil Neal that he cherishes forever:

http://www.redandwhitekop.com/forum/index.php/topic,5624.0.html

I rattled on about all the games I'd watched, all the countries I'd travelled to, what I thought about the team, where we would be celebrating the obvious TITLE that would be coming our way in May. By this time we had come out of the toilet and were walking through the airport, and I was still blabbering on about all sorts, when Ronnie Moran came over and said something to Phil, and then it happened .....

"Hang on Ron, I'm just talking to a fan"

"HANG ON RON, I'M JUST TALKING TO A FAN"


That's what it meant to the players. They were proud to play for the club, and understood how much it meant to fans.

I appreciate that things move on in life, and although certain areas of the game have improved for the fans benefit – I think the majority of things haven't.

We now have great pitches [usually] to enable the players to perform to their best, and produce wonderful football. They are trained so thoroughly that tiredness seems to no longer be an issue in the game, and diet and sports science has helped benefit the fans with a full 90 minutes of "all out" football.

But then we have the problems of money and over exposure. These have bred players who want to be front page stars rather than back page heroes. They want to reach the millions around the globe rather than the people closer to home in their city. This has bred arrogance.

Money is the root to many modern day problems, of which I don't need to bore you with repetitive reminders. The control has shifted from manager and club, to player and agent. The fans in the ground matter less than the fans watching on the TV [or so it seems], and those who dedicate time, effort and money week in week out, matter less than those who come less frequently and spend big bucks in the stores that are rigged out from top to bottom with mostly useless merchandise that clutters your house and makes you look like some sort of American "sports nut" who shouts "Go team Go".

Now days, I don't support the players, I support the team. The players on the pitch mean nothing to me personally. I have no connection with them whatsoever. The only players who have come close in the last decade are Fowler, Gerrard [pre the shit last summer] and Carragher.

I am sick of feeling empty and annoyed when they run off the pitch after a defeat to get into their Porsche and get home to the blond darlin' and a slap up meal with 'friends' in some swanky bistro, and then onto a contemporary club to sip Don Perignon '63. They can't even be bothered to face the fans who have spent a vast majority of their weekly wage to see them play in that Red shirt.

I am fed up with the players not being proud to be 'one of us', and look the fans in the eye and give honest answers without the need to consult Ted McMoney the newest agent in town who can get yer an extra £10k a week "if you just say this and do that".

I want my players to feel like we do. I wanna hear just one person say "I,d fuckin' die to win the league here" or "Money? Why should I be arsed. I love this club and I'm on £60k a week anyway, when most people would 'ave to work 4 or 5 years to earn that". I wanna see them almost in tears when they are celebrating a goal that means so much to the club and its fans [a la Aldridge and McMahon in the derby years ago going mad almost punching each other with pride and delight] I wanna see players just touch the "This is Anfield" sign, even if they are told by powers above that they 'have to', but better still if they choose to, and know why they do it.

I want to feel like the players deserve that shirt and the history and heritage that pulling on that jersey means. I want players to know why we have the Shankly Gates, the Hillsborough Memorial and the Liverbird. All the things that players in times gone by would have taken as 'part of your job to know and do'.

If some of the things that have happened in our past – both good and bad – have happened these days I doubt very much the link and bonding between fans and players would have be created now, that was formed back then.

The gap between "us and them" is bigger now than it's ever been. You'd think I was talking about Man United or Arsenal saying that previously....but I'm talking about us and the players we pay so much to watch.

I'm disillusioned with it all. It's got fuck all to do with the last weeks events – I'm used to this sort of shit now as a Red. I can take defeat on the chin. It's the build up over the last few years of feeling like I'm putting all the effort in, and getting nothing back. I may spend 20-30 hours making a flag for a player; only to take it to the game, shout their name to show them how much it means to us and see them look at the flag directly and look away. No wave, no smile, no nod, no shout, no thanks. Nothing. Why fuckin' bother?

I may spend hours searching for transport and hotels on the net, spend vast amounts of money to get there. Take time of work to do it. Spend money while I'm away – whilst loosing money whilst being just being there – and then view 11 players who don't care about the people on the terraces, and most that don't care about the club. For those days, it becomes my life, and yet the players are just picking up another £60k, going through the motions and running off the pitch back to the luxury lifestyles and sheltered lives. Why bother?

The bull shit story on the back of the Mirror today about Bellamy brought all these feelings back to mind. Like I say, it's not just a recent thing. I've felt this way for a while, but seeing us linked with that horrible c*nt who epitomises everything that is wrong, and bad about modern day football, just made me feel sick to the pit of my stomach. I know it's probably all bullshit, but it still made me think.

I really don't know how much more I can justify. I love the game, I love my club, I love the pride of being a Red....but match days are slowly becoming more about the pre and post match bevvy than the game itself.

And that's not right is it?

Why should we sit quietly and accept it?

A disgruntled ....

© Roper 2005

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