In this week’s column, the Secret Junior Footballer tackles the issue of local clubs paying players.
Imagine what it must be like to play for one of those clubs that pays their players.
I don’t know about you but if a club tried to tempt me to stray from my one and only, all they’d need to do would be splash the cash. And I wouldn’t be expensive or anything, maybe 20 quid a week would be enough. Is that what the big boys are on?
A nice handy score at the end of the week would put a drop of diesel in the van, a bottle of wine for the missus or even a few pints for myself. I might even take the kids to the pictures. So I don’t know if I blame any player for looking for a few quid, but what does everyone else get out of the arrangement? Like the club, the committee, the other players?
While the golden boy, or golden boys, get their little brown envelope on a Sunday afternoon or at the end of the month or however they do it, sneaking off with the secretary or the treasurer or whoever, what do the lads who aren’t getting paid do? Do they look the other way or in some shape or form are they secretly a little angry.
Imagine it. You work hard every Tuesday and Thursday and you’re first to show up every Sunday morning. You watch what you eat, stay mostly off the drink, take the dirty elbows, slide around in the mud, stick your head in where most people wouldn’t stick a leg and you love the 90 minutes every weekend – referees’ strike permitting.
So how does it feel when you see the so-called superstars being looked after as soon as the final whistle blows? How does it feel to see no recognition whatsoever for your graft, for your back-breaking efforts? When you play with players who people say should be playing professionally in the national league, doesn’t it eat away at you that they’re just not dedicated enough to make it with a Limerick FC, but their reputation gets them a nice little earner with your club?
Something that, as it happens, relegates your role as that of a grunt. You’re nowhere near important enough to be worthy of even 20 quid because, sure a few pints after a game will keep you sweet. And what’s worse is, it’s all getting worse! The up and comers are getting their money without having won anything! So you’re going to spend the next ten years as a player watching the players come and go, taking the money and running while you get a pat on the back!
Even I’m saying that it would only require one of the blue notes to keep me happy but if I knew one of my teammates was getting a backhander and I was being left out in the cold, I wouldn’t be best pleased.
And if the golden boy wasn’t pulling his weight week in and week out, the elbows of the opposing centre back would be the least of his worries.