Friday, August 31, 2007

Inane and out of touch...

My Sports Argus column is well under way (complete with new photo - below, taken by talented Sydney photographer Daniel Boud), and my intention to grind people’s gears a little this season is already having effect. Last week, someone wrote a letter to complain that my writing was “inane” and “out of touch”. This was the column that offended them so:This Saturday saw my first trip to Withdean since Sheffield Wednesday put the nail in our relegation coffin at the end of the season before last. It was odd spending a whole year away from the club (I was overseas), and I am pleased to be back, sampling the electric atmosphere of Withdean.

The fact that the visit of Northampton was my first appearance at Withdean this season means I didn’t make it to either of the two home pre-season games. To be honest, I deliberately avoided both of these matches, even though they were against Premiership opposition.

I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want to attend a friendly match unless the opponents were one of the big boys, like Manchester United or Liverpool. The thought of Messrs Rooney or Gerrard treading the Withdean turf would certainly have been enough to draw me through the turnstiles, but my mouth hardly watered at the thought of Fulham visiting our home town. Friendlies are obviously invaluable to managers and players, but what do they offer supporters, other than making our wallets a bit lighter for the benefit of watching a disjointed, dull game of football? We’ll all see enough of them during the season anyway.

Similarly, the game against Reading was something I had little interest in. I wouldn’t have minded seeing the legends stretching their tired old legs, but testimonials are something that I don’t necessarily agree with. Don’t get me wrong, I think Kerry is a top bloke and has been a great servant to the Albion, and the same can be said for Gary Hart, but the idea that professional footballers in this day and age should be given an extra payout at our expense just doesn’t sit well with me.

I’m sure many will disagree with my opinion, but footballers earn a lot more than us, even at the Albion’s level, and so I feel reluctant to throw any more of my money at them. Where are the testimonials for the members of staff who give many more years of service for a fraction of the wages that the players earn? For me, testimonial matches belong back in the days when footballers earned a relative pittance and had to scrape a living once their playing days were done. Okay, so it’s nice to pay tribute to players we respect like Kerry and Harty, but with footballers earning big bucks while fans are paying ridiculously inflated prices for tickets, surely testimonials are an unnecessary and slightly insulting anachronism? Lots of us give years of service in our jobs, or are forced to change careers in our 30s, but you don’t see us getting a tasty pay-out.

While we are on the subject of The Argus, check this out, it was a piece in the paper about a charity pancake race I did a few years back (below). Get a load of that Peter Andre hair. What was I thinking? (click the picture to see it in all its glory).

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