The Internet is
a wonderful thing. Everybody
is getting in on the action with his or her own sites.
Even “My Eyes Have Seen The Glory” has one !
The latest trend has been for players to develop their own sites
to inform fans about how their day goes, what they feel is happening
with their and the team’s form and about their wonderful lifestyle.
I suppose it is a chance for players to find a bit of cyber-space
to run free into. At the
forefront of this trend were the Norwegians.
Apparently much more computer literate than their English
counterparts, most of them had a site, including our very own Oyvind
Leonhardsen and Steffen Iversen. You
may remember that Derby County’s Lars Bohinen was the recipient of a
club fine for stepping out of line when he made commented on decisions
made by the manager ! Surely
a case of bringing the game into disrepute on the Net rather than on the
latest addition to the cyber-geeks adding their thoughts to the World
Wide Web is Ian Walker who has his own site at http://www.sportprofile.co.uk/football/ianwalker.
Most players have their websites hosted by sportsprofile and the
design of all the Norwegian players’ sites is standard.
Walker’s is a bit different and you will find an autobiography,
all his previous postings, some links to other sites and there is a
photos page that is yet to be developed. Ian appears in the corner of each page peering through his
curtains-style haircut and smiling in the way which angers so many Spurs
fans for some strange reason. The
really enlightening comments come in his news of early July, when he
comments about being back in pre-season training, entitled “Running,
running and more running”. For
most fans, the image of pre-season training is one of players doing
shuttle runs or running up step hills and sand dunes to shift those few
extra pounds that have gathered due to the summer’s inactivity.
That and players throwing up because they had had a break Even in
the days when you were allowed freely into the training grounds at
Cheshunt and Mill Hill, the only thing you ever saw in the month of July
was players running around the pitch time after time.
Only when you got near to playing friendlies did a ball appear.
tales of Gerry Francis’ pre-season training schedules were truly
frightening for players and fans alike.
He even maintained this during Tuesday’s in the season, which
became known for their dedication to literally running players into the
ground. There is no doubt
that this does make your players realise the importance of being able to
last the full ninety minutes, but surely they must still be able to walk
at the end of the week to do that !
George Graham’s reputation as a disciplinarian and an
“old-school” manager means that this type of training still has a
place in his build up to the big kick-off.
Not as much as Francis might have relied upon, but the elements
of fitness are uppermost in manager’s thoughts at this time of year.
This has been confirmed in Ian’s website, which informs us that
he quite enjoys pre-season training, although it has left him with sore
legs and not being able to return home until 5.30 p.m.
Well, welcome to the real world Ian.
Most people are up a long time before you to go to work and
don’t get home until considerably after 5.30.p.m.
I am not comparing the type of work that Walker does with the average
Joe, because most of us don’t have 30,000 people criticising
everything we do during our working day.
However, it is indicative of the pressures that players are under
from expectant fans (no, not those who are pregnant) that regard them as
not pulling their weight for the huge salaries they get.
It is not a bad lifestyle, playing a game you love and getting
paid handsomely for the privilege albeit with the public eye being on
you the whole time. I
don’t suppose that Ian was complaining that getting home that late was
a terrible thing, but the mere fact that it happened was unusual enough
to mention. If it ever
happened to most of us we would comment on it for the opposite reason !
are the pampered stars of today any different from those of days gone by
? Well, it is only forty
years or so since players used to travel to games on the bus carrying
their boots, as some of our older readers might well remember.
Thirty-five years ago and it was the start of players really
having the earning power to own their own cars.
Twenty-five years ago and players were still drinking in the
Corner Pin after training and games.
Nowadays, you rarely see a footballer out in public and if you
do, it usually comes as a bit of a shock.
(If any of you ladies see any England Under-21 players while on
holiday in Ayia Napa, steer well clear is my advice)
I have had people tell me that they have seen Oyvind Leonhardsen
out shopping in Sainsbury’s (not something he mentions on his website
I hasten to add) and Les Ferdinand watching his son playing football on
Sunday mornings, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
There is always the person who would be ready to have a pop at
you just because of who you are, so it is often easier to remain in the
background rather than put yourself in the spotlight in public.
Some stories of footballers from other clubs who seem to go out
of their way to be the centre of attention appear to be quite sad if
true. The gap between the players you see on the field and those
who watch from the stands has expanded so rapidly in the last ten years
since the TV money in football has boomed that there is not a hope of
one understanding the others position.
The new deal to start in 2001 will see that gap widen even
further and even in the Nationwide League, the same thing will begin to
happen. Leyton Orient
Chairman, Barry Hearne said that the money must not all go into players
bank accounts, but if he believes that, he is living in cloud cuckoo
land. Every Chairman in the
Football League will be looking to get their side into the Utopia of the
Premier League, where the fixtures are paved with gold.
And how will they manage that ?
By paying lots of money for and to players to drag their team out
of it’s division and upwards to the top of the money tree.
Don’t look at clubs becoming solvent or grounds improving from
their post-war shabbiness, look for the W-reg cars appearing in the car
good luck to them. It’s a
short career and then you have to mend and make do. And to be fair,
Walker did say on his website that while on holiday in Bermuda, he did
do some exercise to keep fit to prepare for the arduous sessions to
come. So, as you can tell,
it’s not all fun being a professional footballer !