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To pause, to Splash: or just pass by?

By Mike Cunningham On February 15th, 2014

afinney

 

Reading and hearing  of the death of Sir Tom Finney this morning, I was reminded, once more, of our shaky grip upon this existence that we cling to. As most ATW readers will be aware, Sport holds very little sway upon my mind and thoughts, as I consider most of the proponents of modern sports, and just about all the so-called ‘stars’ and ‘slebs’ to be a pack of self-promoting, addle-pated, selfish prima-donnas, whose ability in their chosen sport has been parlayed into a huge money-making machine.

Role models? Heroes? When the likes of Ryan Giggs, a footballer whose ‘clean-living’ image was parlayed into a huge array of sponsorships was found, after the removal of not one but several ‘super-injunctions’ was found to be leading such an amoral lifestyle as to have sex with his brother’s wife over an eight year period is portrayed as a role-model; no wonder men of my generation shake their heads in silent sorrow.

Travel Pictures Ltd

When still quite young, my brother’s heroes were the likes of Jackie Milburn, whose statue bears the statement, “A Footballer, and a Gentleman” and such an accolade was deserved. There are very few public figures whose funerals have stopped a City, but Jackie’s did, for it was the biggest display of public emotion ever displayed within Geordieland’s capital city, and deservedly so. But men, who could be addressed as men, such as Milburn, Matthews and Sir Tom Finney, took their work seriously, and their fame lightly, and perhaps that is the real difference between the heroes of my generation, and the slack-jawed clowns who pirouette on Premier and Championship grounds up and down this land. They who, if scoring a goal, which is after all what they are paid to do, go running and sliding around, waving their arms and literally stating ‘Look at me, how clever am I? How wonderful it is that I have scored. Aren’t I a genius?’

 

The shades of Finney and Matthews would surely be slowly shaking their heads in disbelief! Those two men, who after scoring, would trot back up towards the centre-line, perhaps nodding at a fellow player who had aided their goal, are giants compared to the pygmies who inhabit the cluttered spaces between the goalposts today, and the world is just that bit sadder for the passing of another of those legends who have simply, gone before!

 

39 Responses to “To pause, to Splash: or just pass by?”

  1. My father was born and raised in Jarrow, and he would always talk about the same group of men as you mentioned, ‘Whoar Jackie’ Milburn, Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews.
    But during their time football was seen as the working man’s sport, it wasn’t really professional, it was played with dignity and the ref was in charge. The club and the community it represented was the main thing.
    Today football is a business, clubs are meaningless and many no longer represent their community anyway. They are on a par with the Roman Empire chariot races and gladiatorial games. I have no time for it.
    Only League and Union Rugby retains a measure of respect and loyalty nowadays.

  2. But during their time football was seen as the working man’s sport, it wasn’t really professional, it was played with dignity and the ref was in charge. The club and the community it represented was the main thing.

    Very true, take the ‘Premier league’ i think there is less than 25% of the players in the whole league who are actually English.

    Not to mention the manager of the ‘England’ football team.

  3. i think there is less than 25% of the players in the whole league who are actually English.

    Did you ever think of a career in football Harri?

  4. Did you ever think of a career in football Harri?

    I would rather watch paint dry !

    Uh oh, hold on a minute 😉

  5. Lol. Anyway, I reckon that chest hair of yours would have hindered your view of the ball…. 😉

  6. I do listen to some colleagues waffling on about it though, apparently Wayne Roonie was offered a tad over £300,000 … a week, by some club or another.

    It’s obscene.

  7. Agit8ed, on February 15th, 2014 at 4:29 PM Said:

    Lol. Anyway, I reckon that chest hair of yours would have hindered your view of the ball….

    Nah, my eyesight would have done that 🙂

  8. And there is always ‘an old saying’ – ‘Soccer – a game for gentlemen, played by ruffians, and Rugby, a game for ruffians, played by gentlemen’.

    Not quite so sure that it holds good in todays grubby celeb ridden world.

    One of my heroes was Alex James who played for Arsenal and was famed for his baggy shorts as much as his excellent skills. When not playing football he could be seen selling newspapers on a corner near Finsbury Park.

    ‘Alexander Wilson James (14 September 1901 – 1 June 1953) was a Scottish footballer, and is most noted for his success with Arsenal, where he is regarded as one of the club’s greatest players of all time. James played as an inside forward, as a supporting player for the main strikers. He was famed for the excellent quality of his passing and supreme ball control, leading many modern-day comparisons with Arsenal forward Dennis Bergkamp. His rheumatism meant he wore “baggy” shorts to hide the long johns he wore to keep warm; the baggy appearance became his trademark”

  9. I think Mike is looking at the past through rose tinted spectacles.

    Footballers don’t behave noticably worse now than they did 50 years ago we just hear about it more. If Giggs had played in the 1950s no one would have heard of his affairs. For example Stanley Matthews who is held up here as being of the generation of real men who played football had a rather chequered personal life himself- ditching his wife for a communist spy from the Czech republic.

  10. ditching his wife for a communist spy from the Czech republic.

    He deliberately chose a communist spy??

    You mean he fell for another woman.
    A bit different from your attempt to justify Giggsie bedding his brother’s wife for eight years..

    Harri,

    Nah, my eyesight would have done that

    That explains the paint runs on the last lot of ‘Trabant Tourers’ to leave the factory…

  11. Ernest Young, on February 15th, 2014 at 4:36 PM Said:

    And there is always ‘an old saying’ – ‘Soccer – a game for gentlemen, played by ruffians, and Rugby, a game for ruffians, played by gentlemen’.

    Sir Allan Sugar got it right ..

    “If most of these players would not be playing football, they would be in prison”

  12. He deliberately chose a communist spy??

    Hold on a darn gone minute, she can speak Russian rather well 😉

    Hmmmmm, interesting.

  13. Hold on a darn gone minute, she can speak Russian rather well

    “And why does she keep lugging that big old transmitter up into the attic every Wednesday evening|
    And who’s ‘Comrad Harri’ and what’s he doing under our bed? And why’s he wearing those overalls that stink of white spirit -or is that vodka??”

  14. A bit different from your attempt to justify Giggsie bedding his brother’s wife for eight years..

    Where did I try and justify Giggs’ behaviour?

  15. It was a figure of speech. I didn’t understand you pulling out something about Sir Stanley Matthews and his re-marriage as any kind of comparison to Ryan Giggs bedding his brother’s wife; and there are plenty more examples of bad/rude or crude behaviour by modern footballers that can’t be found in the older generation of footballers simply because they just didn’t happen.
    Remember Roasting?
    And Stan Collymore and Ulrika Johnson?
    and Wayne Rooney and his old ladies?

  16. I don’t know about football there, but in the US there was wild carousing by guys like Babe Ruth in baseball, in the twenties and thirties and by many other US sports and movie stars. It wasn’t known then because the papers and radio never reported on that stuff.

    There was an understanding that lasted a really long time, into the seventies when ” Ball Four ” was published by a baseball player Jim Bouton, who spoke of what really went on. He was hated for a time, people thought that this was private information.

    Athletes, actors, have always had their robust lifestyle.

    http://www.amazon.com/Ball-Four-Jim-Bouton/dp/B000GUBVGQ

  17. Gentlemen –

    Before we run off on a nostalgia trip, it wasn’t all great then. Finney, Matthews, Wor Jackie Milburn and the rest were horribly exploited by laws and regulations.

    They played during a time of a maximum wage for footballers, so they never earned their just rewards. Sir Tom Finney was known as the Preston Plumber because that’s what he was during the summer. He had to do that because he could never earn enough from football to live, despite being one of England’s greats.

    Also, football clubs back then owned a player’s registration, so even if his contract had expired his club could still prevent him from playing for another team.

    apparently Wayne Roonie was offered a tad over £300,000 … a week, by some club or another

    Simple economics explains that. He has a rare talent for doing something that many people are willing to pay money to watch. What he’s on at Manure is simply his market rate. What’s the alternative? That Utd’s shareholders take it instead as dividends? No-one pays to watch them. If you ever promoted Frank Sinatra in Vegas you’d have had to have paid him more than his bus fare home and rightly so, because he’d have pulled in the punters and was the star of the show.

    I’ve long though that there’s an element of class snobbery in the fuss over what footallers are paid. Nice middle class boys have long earned big bucks when they got to the top in the City, in acting, in rock bands and the like (and more rock stars than you think are nice middle class boys). There’s no real history of complaints about them earning £10m a year.

    But illiterate, working class footballers earning big bucks? The horror, the horror.

    The real scandal over Rooney’s earnings is that the taxman puts a gun to his head and robs him of much of it.

  18. The real scandal over Rooney’s earnings is that the taxman puts a gun to his head and robs him of much of it.

    Pete, good point of course, and you might be interested and horrified as i was by this I posted earlier on another thread, I am still shaking my head in utter disbelief.

    Harri, on February 15th, 2014 at 1:31 PM Said:

    ‘Democracy’ Freedom.

    I am sorry this is off topic, but i feel i simply have to share this with ATW, worrying times indeed.

    I have just returned from the local ASDA supermarket, i needed some cash, so like anyone else i wandered over to the cashpoint machines beforehand, wallet in hand, i took out my bank card and inserted it into said slot, then to my absolute horror, a large pair of moving eyes appeared on the screen with a ‘warning’

    ” Have YOU declared ALL your income to HRMC if you have, you have nothing to worry about ”

    Be afraid, be very afraid.

  19. Harri –

    The taxman is just a thug in a suit, that’s all. It cannot be repeated too often, that the State is a gang of thieves writ large.

    Despite many protestations, no-one here has yet explained how ‘taxation’ is not a form of violent robbery. That message on the cashpoint – as well as proving how there’s no escape from the State for a single second – simply reinforces it.

    That is a threat, a demand for money with menaces.

  20. Pete

    Just found this,.

    HMRC ad on cash machine screens

    I know HMRC have advertised on Cash Mashine screens before but I got a shock when I saw there latest one. Roll up to the cash point not a care in the world, I then pop my card in and see a pair of eyes looking up at me from the cash point screen as if someone was inside it, and then the message across the screen along the lines of ‘undeclared income we are looking for you’, really quite menacing tbh, I got nothing to hide but still it p*ssed me off and made me want to thump the cash point

    http://forums.contractoruk.com/general/85776-hmrc-ad-cash-machine-screens.html

  21. Pete.

    Just found this.

    HMRC ad on cash machine screens

    I know HMRC have advertised on Cash Mashine screens before but I got a shock when I saw there latest one. Roll up to the cash point not a care in the world, I then pop my card in and see a pair of eyes looking up at me from the cash point screen as if someone was inside it, and then the message across the screen along the lines of ‘undeclared income we are looking for you’, really quite menacing tbh, I got nothing to hide but still it p*ssed me off and made me want to thump the cash point

    http://forums.contractoruk.com/general/85776-hmrc-ad-cash-machine-screens.html

  22. Before we run off on a nostalgia trip, it wasn’t all great then. Finney, Matthews, Wor Jackie Milburn and the rest were horribly exploited by laws and regulations.

    Whether true or not, the fact remains those footballers were looked up to and respected by the communities the clubs represented.
    Regardless of what did or did not go on in the background (the Yanks had very similar values then)the fact is that it was thought important that sporting stars and actors were seen as good role models. Some may regard that as hypocrisy. I don’t. I think they were seeking the higher social good.

  23. Pete

    Just found this..

    HMRC ad on cash machine screens

    I know HMRC have advertised on Cash Mashine screens before but I got a shock when I saw there latest one. Roll up to the cash point not a care in the world, I then pop my card in and see a pair of eyes looking up at me from the cash point screen as if someone was inside it, and then the message across the screen along the lines of ‘undeclared income we are looking for you’, really quite menacing tbh, I got nothing to hide but still it p*ssed me off and made me want to thump the cash

    point

  24. In the US, pro owners and players are heavily subsidized by the taxpayer.

    This subsidy taxes the form of taxpayer funding of vast sports stadiums, including for NFL teams that only play 8 home games a year, and which stand empty most other days unless there is a big concert. Minimal rent is charged.

    There are other subsidies via preferential tax code treatment of player salaries.

    Without this corporate welfare, player salaries and owner profits would be a fraction of what they are now.

  25. British sports owners tend not get such extravagant subsidies from tax payers as American ones because of the way leagues are structured.

    If an NFL team wants a new stadium it can blackmail the city or state government by threatening to relocate to a city that will subsidise them. On the other hand if a premiership team threatened to move to another city it wouldn’t be credible because they aren’t allowed to.

  26. Who doesn’t allow them to move? Government or the league?

    Here, the NHL NBA and other leagues have aided and abetted team owners’ extortion of taxpayers.

  27. Phantom- the league doesn’t allow them to move (with one notable exception where Wimbledon moved to Milton Keynes) but even if they did, with a promotion and relegation system it wouldn’t matter much of they did. If a city had an untapped demand for a football club there wouldn’t be any obstacle to forming one and moving up the league system. They wouldn’t need to bribe someone else’s club to move.

  28. It sounds like a better system, all of it, including promotion and relegation

  29. Overall I’d say it’s better although there are downsides- less financial stability for example (because relegation costs a lot of money).

    The blog Field of Schemes is well worth a read for the shameless antics team owners get up to to get subsidies. For example your home state is talking about building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills while the existing one is still undergoing a $200,000,000 taxpayer funded renovation.

  30. Thanks for that link

    I have always opposed this sort of thing – and it is noted that neither Republican ( incl the Tea Phonies ) nor God help us the Democrats tend to ever bring this subject up.

    They’re all for it.

    The new Yankee Stadium even has a dedicated luxury box for the exclusive use of local politicians

    And the Brooklyn basketball arena developers gave such a box to ACORN types in return for their political support during the contentious approval process dor the project

  31. The new Yankee Stadium even has a dedicated luxury box for the exclusive use of local politicians

    Please tell me this isn’t so, why do we all put up with this shit?

  32. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/nyregion/deal-will-give-cuomo-administration-luxury-suite-at-bills-stadium.html?_r=0

    Pro and major ” amateur ” sports in this country contaminates everything it touches

  33. Phantom

    For a country which hates communists, it sure is ironic that the ruling elite in the States act in exactly the same manner as the old Soviet politburo.

    Power corrupts.

  34. It is odd that the best way to receive public funds is to be extremely wealthy to start with.

  35. Those 1% who have most of the cash .. want more.

  36. Many voters are stupid sports fans.

    They actually support free stadiums for ” their ” teams.

    So that they don’t lose them,

    It is spun as ” economic development ”

    I’m serious.

  37. Pro sports leagues in the US are tax exempt entities, similar to religious organizations.

    One conservative senator attempted to revoke their absurd special status and found no traction amongst his fellow party members.

    Ross’s last comment succinctly sums up the world as it is.

    As far as sports hero worship goes, I don’t get it. Why is someone with athletic ability worthy of great admiration or elevated status?

  38. I think I understand.

    The average man – and this is largely a male thing – looks at a pro game and sees an activity that he takes part in, or that he once did. It is a tie to youth, to something passed father to son.

    There can be art, beauty in the greatest athletic performances- Michael Jordan in his prime etc, in a world that doesn’t have enough of them.

    Sports are good – but people should be playing more of it instead of watching others all the time.

    Hi from yet another snow day up here.

  39. Hey back at you from Austin’s sunny seventies.

    I get your point of art and beauty in the world of professional athletics, but I simply don’t understand the hero worship culture Mike speaks of.

    All three of my sons have participated in league and school sports to varying degrees, my husband is a Steelers fanatic (he waves a Terrible Towel in our living room every game day) but none of my four men look to athletic figures as role models or hold them up as significant icons.

    Maybe my guys are weird – they admire Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Richard Feynman, Nobu Matsuhisa, Billy Short (principal bassoonist at the Met) and numerous other outside the box talents as worth emulating.