Deserve the shirt? You're having a laugh

Posted by Mark_P on March 15, 2004, 06:29:39 PM

Due to financial reasons I decided against the trip to St Mary’s this year, and instead took a walk to the local park to watch a relative play a league fixture in the local junior league.  One side was in a relatively comfortable 6th position in the league, whilst the other were just a position behind in a league made up of ten sides.

These are kids of 14 and 15 who pay their £2 a week, and have turned up, probably hungover from their exploits of White Lightning and spliffs the night before, in their masses to play what is basically a meaningless game between a side from Anfield and one from Halewood.  These could have easily stayed in bed but each side had more than enough players, in a game that was being played for pride.

The game ended in a thrilling 5-3 victory to the South Liverpool outfit, with a referee taking a verbal bashing from the majority of the field.  The Anfield lot trooped off looking dejecting, although the fight and passion they had shown had been a credit to them.  They were all muttering how they couldn’t believe they’d lost, and a few even took it in turns to apologize for being at fault for certain goals.

I looked at these players and it made me remember my younger days of playing football on the fields with more glass than grass and how you’d be prepared to fight for your team mates, and a lot of the time your manager and parents.  If you lost then you’d think that you’d be letting your manager down, if you won then you felt proud you could tell your mates you’d done it. 

It’s been unusual in the past few months for me to actually see the game with replays after incidents and that Bluenosed Scottish prick babbling on about shite, but there was one point I could easily pick up on.  The camera centred on Phillips and Beattie going off at the final whistle, and I just remember a flash of black going past them every few seconds.  Heskey, Riise, Hyypia, Biscan, all showed us the kind of pace we should’ve seen in the game.  Some managed faint and half hearted rounds of applause for the travelling fans, some didn’t even bother.

These are people who are vastly overpaid, have the kind of lifestyle that some of us only see on TV and have been given the talent to do what those lads who parade on the parks every Sunday can only hope for.  Yet, here they were, yet again, showing absolutely no desire or passion for the game and not even giving a care in the World that they were letting the thousands in the away end at St Mary’s and thousands at home too.  They were letting down the people who pay their wages, had to quit jobs, lose wives and whatever through their passion for Liverpool FC.

It brought it home to me, when lads are paying to play and showing ten times the passion for the game as the likes of Riise, Murphy and Diouf.  The era of the “Spice Boys” is now regarded as a bleak time for the club, but is this any better?  Who actually gives a shit about why they are wearing the shirt?  Steven Gerrard.  Milan Baros.  Jamie Carragher.  Anymore answers on a postcard please, because I can’t find them.

The players we have are doing a job.  If I go in for a shift in work, I’ll look to do as little as possible and get away with it.  This might mean having a sly break when I should be working, or just generally being lazy, I mean, who can argue with getting paid for doing absolutely fuck all?  The thing is, we don’t see footballers as merely a job. 

Had Gerard Houllier put out the eleven that played in the Sunday league game, from either side, I think that the fans in the Liverpool end would’ve gone home a lot happier.  We’d have lost by more goals, yes.  But at least those on the pitch would’ve had that will to win and love of the game, rather than just go on the pitch to either try and show Erikkson what they can do, or make sure they get their pay packet at the end of the week. 

The decision to release a host of youth players has come as a blow.  People may argue that these lads may not have met the standard required, but as with the likes of Gerrard and Carragher and Wright, Fowler and Thompson in the past, the local lads are the ones who will be giving more than the lads in the side not from the area.  If you were a professional footballer and the chance came to play for Wolves, although you’d try hard, you wouldn’t be giving that extra bit that the local lads who have the club’s history in their blood.  Although some of the above were Evertonians, they still know the ins and outs and exactly what is needed to succeed at Liverpool FC.

It seems that when we send these scouts out to Europe, determination and passion isn’t on the shortlist.  It’s all very well have 11 players who can produce all the fancy flicks and passes, but whose going to be there when the chips are down and we need 11 fighters?  When will certain people, Mr Houllier a prime example, take a leaf out of the young player’s book and hold their hands up to mistakes and stop trying to pass the buck?

The parallel between the Sunday league team and the pampered pros is one that shows exactly what kind of mess we’re in as a club.  These players couldn’t give a damn if we win or lose, they don’t have any idea of the lengths some people go just to support them, and what do they get in return?  A spineless performance, something that has almost become the norm of late.

The team at the moment is a disgrace to the fans and the club.  The best thing we can do is start afresh and that begins with the manager.  It’s harder to get up when your coach is leaving at 6am these days, and the usual feeling of looking forward to a match has gone.  Now it’s become a chore, which is getting increasingly bleak every game. 

Until those players that should care start doing so, why should we bother?

© Mark Piercy 2004

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