Is The Romance Dead?

Posted: June 16, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in England, English Premier League, Guest, Legends, Money, Random

The mind has time to wander during the close season, and as sick as I am about hearing and talking about “would be” transfers, my thoughts have drifted elsewhere. Just recently I found Paul McGrath on Twitter (@PaulMcGrath5) and it brought back some fond memories. The reason for this story is to compare the modern footballer with the gentlemen of yesteryear.

I cast my mind back about 5 or 6 years to a summer’s day in my native Cork City. Aware that Paul was due to play in a golf tournament in Fota Golf Course, I made my way down in hope to see one of my heroes. Luckily for me I wasn’t disappointed. Seeing Paul across the clubhouse I felt genuine awe for a man who helped put Irish football on the map, a true legend of the game. Seeing Paul was about to leave, I shouted across the clubhouse “Paul, you’re my hero!” Not one of the most suave moments of my life but one I don’t regret nonetheless.

Paul came back in and shook my hand and said he’ll be back shortly and he’ll talk to me. Not expecting him to come back, I was happy just to have shaken the great man’s hand. I sat down with the group I was with for a tea and low and behold, 20 minutes later Paul arrived back in the clubhouse and sat with us for about 15 minutes just shooting the breeze. We got our photos and said our goodbyes and that day remains in my mind forever. It’s not every day you meet a genuine hero. They say you shouldn’t meet a hero as you will be left disappointed, well that couldn’t be further from the truth in this instance.

Paul has had his well-documented demons over the years but his warmth and kindness hasn’t been affected. He is a genuine guy who appreciates the chance he was given and support he was lended by us fans. For what it’s worth, his autobiography is a great read for anyone who’s interested.

Now, the reason I have told this little story is to show the class associated with former players. I have also had the pleasure to meet Peter Osgood and Peter Bonetti, two Chelsea legends and couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating. The same can be said about when I met Kerry Dixon, Jason Cundy and Clive Walker. Exceptions aside, can you imagine many of today’s top players giving you the time of day? No? Me neither.

Is it the money? Is it the increased fame? Is it a security issue? Is it just that people in general have become less friendly and maybe even more arrogant? Whatever it is, it is ruining the romance and the bond between fans and players. Now I know certain players make the extra effort to engage with fans but it will never be the same. I know people who have drank with the Irish squad on international trips; I hear stories of people who’ve done the same with various clubs around the UK. If you tried approached Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard and offered to buy them a drink you would probably be on the receiving end of a tongue lashing for daring to interrupt them (that’s if you even get that far before being tackled by a security guard).

The examples I used may not be representative, maybe they are, and there are of course exceptions to the rule, but what I’m getting at is that people are falling out of love with the game because our heroes have become detached and almost untouchable. I almost feel that the modern day players are robots who are taught to say a bunch of clichés and dare not say anything else which may be controversial or honest. Maybe it’s just me, is it?

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Written by Derek.  You can follow him on Twitter @fattyfoulke

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