The quote above is my old mate Kipling trying to put sport in to perspective, he reckoned that sport acted as a diversion from more serious matters. Years ago I used to say and still do that football clubs should take more responsibility for the education and development of their young players. Kids as young as 12 are signed and developed in to professionals in an environment where they are not encouraged to think about anything but football; often to the detriment of their general character. The result can be a ‘man child’ on the scrapheap in his late teens through lack of ability or injury with no training or skills to do anything else, lost to football and society, tragic. Or alternatively a ‘man child’ living a glamorous life with wealth beyond the dreams of avarice but; just like the tragic ones, with no skills or training in anything except football.
I recall watching a television piece years ago where the cameras were given access to Celtic training and the players relaxing, it was funny ha ha and funny peculiar as well as we watched them cavorting around playing practical jokes on each other and; listening to their banter became embarrassing as these grown men, approx 25 to 35 years old talked and behaved like 14/15 year old schoolboys. They were completely unselfconscious as they addressed each other by the most childish and completely inappropriate ‘nicknames’ Johnny Doyle was called Doyley not Johnny, Ronnie Glavin was called Glavey not Ronnie, Roy Aitken was Aitkey not Roy, it was clear that they lived in a bubble and had made little progress as thinking adults since signing as schoolboys. Inevitably they would appear on the front pages rather than the back ones because of some indiscretion when allowed out; caused in no small measure by their completely alien daily lives, as long as they could kick a ball on a Saturday nothing mattered. In actual fact they were not the only ones to blame when incidents happened that showed them in a very bad light nor for that matter is Barrie Ferguson despite his puerile behaviour.
Clubs nowadays are more involved in a young player’s development over and above football and rightly so, they now realise that a young man with money; cars and fame who has no grounding in how to behave normally will sometimes go completely off the rails. In Ferguson’s case it was an accident waiting to happen and he is not entirely to blame, his rise to fame was spectacular but it was always IMO tinged with falseness, a talented player for sure but not, definitely not the world class performer that the wretched Scottish Football press built him up to be while encouraging Rangers vast support to think along the same lines. You can’t fool all of the fans all of the time and some of the more astute fans knew what they were watching, an above average; talented player; certainly good enough for Scotland’s international team but not captain marvel as some would have us believe.
I believe that his own native intelligence would have told him this in a quite voice that gnawed at him, he came to know this and it grated on him for years, he was lauded by a puerile Scottish sports press who recklessly created a hero who was fatally flawed, these are the bastards who are now baying for his blood. He was all to aware in his heart of hearts that when it came to the real big tests he couldn’t compete with the real world stars, he turned in to a nasty piece of work borne of frustration, snarling at everyone including his own team mates. Had he been nurtured as a young player and taught about life as well as football he may have avoided this ignominy, those responsible for running his club and his life are culpable, how could the game he loved and his captaincy of club and country cause a young man to be consumed by such anger and aggression? Football needs to look at itself.
Him and the goalkeeper McGregor’s behaviour was outrageous and their response to their punishment made them look like; as I said; overgrown spoilt kids with very little grasp of real life. They will both be trying to come to terms now with the fact that they were not untouchable and sometimes even they have to answer for their behaviour, it’s a great pity that no one was able to direct them as youngsters in a way which could have avoided this. I think that a period away from the Scottish football goldfish bowl might suit them both I hope so.
They are guilty sure enough but so are all the clubs who put results and profits before a young player’s well being and development not just their football development, those clubs are aided and abetted by a grasping unspeakable Scottish sporting press who are the scum of the earth.