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Colm's Corner
Columnist: Colm Kavanagh

Footballs Fooked!
26 July 2005

Tim Cahill: another


Only mad dogs and Englishmen, it is said, play under the burning midday sun.  Having recently enjoyed a seven-day sabbatical with the family over on Spains southern shores, I can testify that the above statement is absolute bollocks.  Tis not Englishmen alone who bake under burning skies!  Christ, I sweated cobs as "international football" arrived by the tennis courts of our hotel.  An array of residents, togged in various attire, all prepared to sweat like never before for the sake of a game of footy on their hols.  Purely for the love of playing the game.  Football truly a common denominator for so many people the world over.

After one such session, I realised it was time to hang up the (melting) boots and accept that playing footy in a furnace approaching 40 C is for lunatics alone.  Instead, I spent most of my time either flitting in and out of the pool with the kids (mine I hasten to add!) or poolside with a good book in my hand and factor 15 in the other.  For me, a good book revolves around football (yes I am myopic when selecting reading material!).  You cant go wrong with a couple from David Conns impressive collection or Hunter Daviss thoughts on the ever-changing face of the game.  So, as I thumbed page after page, I found myself pretty much more and more of the opinion that the game as we once knew it is no more. 

Its all about the suits these days the actual game itself, as played by eleven overpaid and pampered prima donnas, has been shunted down the pecking order of importance.  Football, in general, has its head so far up its own arse that its forgotten its origins, and its importance to, initially, the very same community that surrounds, no, envelopes, any particular club.  Some of you reading this may be third or fourth generation Evertonians possibly looking for a new seat this coming season after YOUR CLUB took it upon themselves to shunt you out of YOUR seat in order to facilitate corporate suits who wouldnt know their arse from their elbow, in order to raise the brand profile.  All bollocks.

Yesterday, we heard the news that Tim Cahill has refused to accept a new deal offered to him by the Club, as a reward for his efforts in the Royal Blue shirt last season.  Reward my arse!  Id wager theres small print in his contract that has triggered a clause, now being nitpicked over by all and sundry, and hyped to death by a media in search of a story that ultimately (I presume!) does not exist.  Thats the game these days.  Ive no doubt that all parties involved will endeavour to extract the best possible deal for themselves.  Thats football and one way or another its YOU, the fan, the pleb without a voice in YOUR Club who will cough up the readies to ensure we continue loving Tim Cahill, wearing OUR beloved shirt.

Tim is no different from any other player.  Hes in it for the money; its his job and over a limited number of years presuming he remains fit he intends to make as much money as possible from whomever is prepared to pay the going rate.  Thats the climate and if we were all in his shoes (or boots!) wed be no different.  There is no loyalty.  Should there be?  Some of you might scream of course there bloody well should these players are lucky enough to be getting riches beyond our wildest dreams, all for kicking a ball on a park, in our name!  There was a time Id agree 100% with that train of thought.  Not anymore though.  I say good luck to the players if theyve got a club prepared to pay them a weekly fortune.  Would you turn down a job offering ridiculous money?  Course not!  The days of loyalty to a club, the shirt supposedly worn with immense pride, are long gone.  Mores the pity too.

Before we go blaming it all on greedy players and their agents, we must look at the role of the clubs in all of this.  They have reaped what they have sewn and its somewhat ironic, as an Evertonian, to now watch our once wonderful Club languishing even after a fourth place finish in last seasons Premiership behind the big boys, like Chelsea and Newcastle United.  Newcastle Friggin United!!!  What the fuck have they ever won?  What the fuck have they ever done?!  When did they become such a big club, looking down mockingly on us?  Ill tell you when when club chairmen like Philip Carter and those of like mind, supposed custodians of various clubs, founded over one hundred years back and supposedly representative of their community, sold the very heart and soul of the game to the highest bidder namely Rupert Murdoch and his then floundering Sky Television (soon to merge with BSB, becoming BSkyB). 

Laughable these days it may well be but back then, a mere five years on from when we last lifted the Football League Championship (in 1987), we were still one of the so-called Big Five.  Which meant we were very much party to calling the shots.  The collective greed of each and every one of the Big Five clubs set the wheels in motion to this era of A Whole New Ball Game, as BSkyB would soon market its now prized asset (shunting the piss-poor flagship talkshow Dolly with Ms Parton into the annals of forgotten television programming!).  Goodbye tradition.  Hello, Super Sunday!

Football entered a new era a new product, to emerge from the hooligan-strewn 70s and 80s.  With new money floating all over the place, clubs were able to splash the cash, doors opened to the Foreign Legions and prompted by the Taylor Report many old archaic grounds were modernised.  Except Goodison Park of course.  I doubt very much that our glorious Life President envisaged back then in 1992 that the common greed amongst the Big Five not giving the slightest fuck for the smaller clubs then would one day see our own beloved (and rich) Club be passed by the new money that has seen clubs like Newcastle financially overtake us. 

Newcastles financial position may well be debatable but the fact remains that, over the past decade or so, theyve managed to modernise their stadium AND attract the big-name players (with the big-name player salaries).  Theyve forgotten that they once looked upon the likes of fat bastard Mickey Quinn as their hero!  All that new money in the game and where the fuck has it got Everton FC?  Chasing shadows, living beyond our means and now paying the price for a decade or so of gross mismanagement of our finances by collective Boards of EFC (our current Chairman being a member of the Board since 1994). 

Have we really become a selling club, flogging off annually our better players (most of them spun out as the villains of the peace)?  Sir John Moores would surely turn in his grave but times have changed so much and not necessarily for the better since his tenure at Everton.  He knew what made the people tick, the very people who attended and supported Everton Football Club the very same people who helped make Everton Football Club the institution it bloody well is.  We became The Mersey Millionaires, money put into the Club (by Moores), as Everton led the way into a new golden era (sounds familiar!) that is now no more than a very distant memory. 

Such benefactors are not as frequent these days.  Sadly most clubs are now in the possession of people who view football clubs as a vehicle for getting rich quick.  Some succeed.  Some dont.  What is true with most clubs nowadays though is that they are so removed from reality its untrue.  Talk is of TV deals, the carve up of such deals, the importance of getting a greater slice, preserving the status quo.  Expanding the brand (that one does my head in!), the last person most clubs ever consider is the fan who lives and breathes the Club and pays again and again (indirect taxation with a smile!), through the nose, as the club forever hammer his or her pocket.  Taking his or her loyalty for granted.  Where fans dream of FA Cup glory, youll find out that the reality is that your club is arguably more pre-occupied with what TV money well be getting for our FA Cup run its only a few seasons back since the wonderful big boys of the FA Premiership threatened to boycott the greatest club knockout tournament in the world.  Why?  Because of a power struggle between the suits running the Premier League and the suits running the FA.  The romance of the Cup?  Haha

Football, as most of us knew it, is well and truly fucked.  Is there any hope that one day we can see some semblance of normality/reality return?  I doubt it... but, as the saying goes, where theres life, theres hope!  We can but hope that is the case.  What I have noticed, more and more, is the emergence some might say its the fightback of some who believe so strongly in retaining, in essence, a connection with THEIR club, what it represents and what it means to them in their daily lives.  Theyve called time, opting to shun the suits whove obtained control of THEIR club, those who speak in glowing terms of expanding the brand into other markets (notably Asia) and removing many of the joys that traditionally made attending a game of footy so enjoyable an experience (remember when you could stand on a terrace any given Saturday afternoon, have a laugh, singing songs with the rest of them!).  Annual increases in ticket prices have also burst beyond breaking point for many disillusioned fans.  Most would laugh at you for highlighting the fact that a kid could stand on Old Traffords Stretford End back in 1991 for a mere 90p.  Nowadays, all clubs are equally guilty of pricing out the next generation.  Theres foresight for you!

Some may mock the likes of AFC Wimbledon and the new FC United of Manchester.  I most certainly wont.  I have nothing but the greatest of admiration for the spirit coming out of the new Wimbledon.  Fuck the speculators who took their club out of their community and up to Milton Keynes.  Those who remained loyal to the essence of what Wimbledon meant to the hardcore support serve as a rather timely reminder of what the game should be about.  Wed all hate to see a similar scenario arise down Goodison Road but who knows what lies ahead? 

Season ticket prices continue to rise and rise.  Kids can no longer afford to dip into their pocket money to go and watch the boys in Blue.  Season ticket holders, for many years, have been rewarded (unlike Tim Cahill) by being fucked out of their seats in order to facilitate the influx of the suited and booted.  Lounge prices have gone through the roof.  Football has become a very expensive luxury, unfortunately beyond the means of many who once took attending Goodison for granted.  Who knows, some may organise themselves with a new club of sorts, in time to come, searching for the lost spirit of Everton.  Laugh you may but Ill wager theres a growing number of Manchester United fans who, like moths drawn to the light, will embrace the new FC United of Manchester and validate it as being the spirit, as they believe, of their football club.

Football In The Community?!  I remember when that meant the club itself and not a token effort (tax deductable!) by a big club to put something back into the local community!  Yeah, as if..the slow death of footy continues.  Now pass me the remote control, match starts in five minutes


Colm Kavanagh


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