Football FanCast guest
columnist Stuart Jack wonders how one goes about defining the
People say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – for some that may be an
expensive diamond ring, to others it may a single red rose. This analogy can be
paralleled with the situation facing modern day football.
For some the beauty of football – the real soul of the game – does not involve
watching players who play where their chequebook dictates but in the warm
feeling on the drive home from a 5 hour round trip, on cold Wednesday night,
after your team has snatched a last minute winner.
For me this is what football is about. As an Airdrie, and Scotland, supporter
all my life, I have grown up to understand that failure in sport is something I
have to accept. However, for me this is the beauty of the game – being with
fellow supporters who want to be there, and are not disgruntled when the team
comes second in the top division.
One of the most poignant moments I have had watching Airdrie, was at a league
match, on a Tuesday night in Dingwall, when both teams had accepted their
eventual fate of mid-table obscurity. Along with my best friend, there were 37
other Airdrie supporters who attended the game (yes I counted). Although, not
knowing any of them apart from my friend there was a feeling of togetherness,
occasionally signified with the nod of a head, with everyone knowing that they
were the last men standing. For me this is the soul of football. Such a feeling
of solidarity, almost tribalism is not something sky television can make you go
interactive with at the touch of a red button.
However, I can fully understand the other side of the game – the glitz and
glamour of the Champions' League. I regularly marvel at the athletic and
technical ability of likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Kaka but always with a hint of
envy – I wish it was me. My loathing for the corporate culture and the searing
arrogance shown by players and supporters of the world elite can probably be
summed up by one word – jealousy.
If I was a supporter of Manchester City would I miss the long trips to
Gillingham, instead of going to Anfield and Old Trafford? No. Would I be
excited at the prospect of seeing the superstars of Tevez, Adebayor and Robinho
wearing my team's strips? Yes.
However, I do believe that after the dust settles and people take a step back,
everyone is searching for the same thing in football – the special moments. It
is not so much the final winning outcome, but the journey it takes to get
there. For me such moments are all relative. As an amateur player I have
accepted the fact that I will never play football at the top level but I will
still enjoy same feeling of camaraderie that playing football brings, as any
professional negotiating a 100k a week will enjoy.
In summary, I feel we need to emphasise the importance of the journey and what
the game is actually about and not the eventual outcome, if we are to retain
the soul of the beautiful game.