Here in Gladstone there’s been a bit of drama with the sale of the local Leagues Club. The club has shut down for the second (or third time), and the local footy fans are up in arms. Why, they ask, aren’t the council, the State and Federal Grubbymints, the NRL, local industries, or for that matter, anybody at all, doing something about it?
I don’t know, and personally, I don’t care if the club has folded. There, I said it.
Football is one of those sports we take our children to in order to learn more than the fundamentals of catching, passing, kicking and faking injuries to earn penalties. We hope that they also learn teamwork, persistence, honesty, respect for rules, and how to win or lose with grace.
Unfortunately what they also learn is how high they can pee up a toilet wall, how to mash an opponents face in a scrum (and get away with it), how to rub Dencorub all over the genitals of the teams’ worst player, how to avoid being the teams’ worst player, how to set a broken nose between tackles, how to find and replace teeth, and just how painful knee and shoulder reconstructions can be.
I used to like footy. I really did. Back when players were working full time, mostly as garbage men, meatworkers, or brickies, and would have paid to play at regional or state level. Back when we could all afford to buy a footy jersey to wear on weekends, when jerseys didn’t change colours with the seasons. Back when clubs were run by red faced, flat nosed men with beefy forearms who genuinely loved the game and the people who played it. Men who gave nearly every spare hour to the club, fund raising, mowing, painting, coaching or talking crap over the bar that they helped build. Those big hearted, idealistic, people who then handed everything over to ‘proper managers’ in order to take the club to the next level. The poor dumb bastards.
Clubs today are no longer about heart, ticker, and blood. Clubs are money spinners for the big end players in town. Players are a commodity to be bought and sold at will, and fans are merely cows to be milked at every opportunity. The days of footy being the “Workers Game” are well and truly over when a pie and a beer will leave you clutching a small amount of silver change from a twenty dollar note. Clubs that don’t make money close down and that’s the rules, the man in white is always right, and no amount of appealing is going to change his mind.
All of you good hearted people writing to the paper, and politicians at every level, should know that once the whistle blows there’s no going back. Like it or not, the game is over. Now it’s time to lick your wounds, work out what went wrong, and who wasn’t up to scratch on the day, then train like buggery to make sure you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.
And remember, there’s always next week… unless the season is over. And for now it is.