“An older Gooner’s personal lament against greed and cheating” by Jon Fox
My friends and fellow Gooners, the regulars on JA will know me as a fiercely plain speaking, independent minded fan who is unafraid to speak my true mind and who does not mind standing out from the general view, even when and if such a view exists!
For many years. I have become increasingly almost a voice in the wilderness, standing against both the greed culture and cheating so endemic in our global game. I will state at the outset that I still value and cherish the many millions of good people in the game, be they players, managers, coaches, admins, owners, fans or anybody else (kit men, tea ladies, match day volunteers and so on).
However, you would need to live in a cave not to have seen how the harm that increasing greed and love of money – above being an honest sportsperson – has so damaged all that surrounds the actual game itself. Even oldies such as I will freely admit that cheating within the actual 90 minutes is nothing new. Players in general have always been fierce in their determination to win – thank God too- and have often gone outside the laws and the even more important spirit of the game. That happened way back then and still happens and always will. More on cheating later though.
Sportspeople, in fact all people, are not saints and in a way that is just as well. Our race has never been perfect an only a fantasist would dare hope for human perfection, and I do not either, as we would lose our essential humanity were that to ever happen. Thankfully it will not.
But in this ever more materialistic world in which we in the so called “advantaged” countries dwell, love of money and wealth has IMO made our human spirit poorer, not nicer. Please accept that I say the LOVE of money and still more money, not money itself. I believe in ethical capitalism and recognise that money and our global capitalist system is the only fair and sensible way to live.
I love football, Arsenal, sport and our human race in general but the last one has to come first for me. As Gooners, we belong to our own tribe, but we also belong to myriad tribes in our own individual lives but who among you would value Arsenal above your own family?
What if you regard all humanity as your REAL family, as so many countless millions are now in this modern era, increasingly doing? Those who wish to save our species from itself by not continuing to destroy our home on Earth, for instance, surely that should be all of us, does it not!
Greed and the obscenity of more and more money for a privileged elite, at the expense of our fellow humans is dividing our race more and more each year. Witness the medical heroes, who we all recognise and cherish as such, who have fought so valiantly under immense pressure to save lives in this ghastly pandemic. They have freely and lovingly put others needs before their own wants and even above their own private families in many cases. THEY are real heroes, as are many millions of lowly paid and even unpaid volunteers in all walks of life but many of them struggle to keep body and soul together for lack of enough money to live on.
And my friends, while this is happening, here and now, today, tomorrow and the next day, thousands of top footballers (and agents!!) the world over is holding society, which means us all, to ransom, wanting, in fact demanding still more wages to agree to play for the clubs they profess to care for. I say this is a despicable and corrupt “my first and your poor mugs nowhere” attitude that needs to b defeated and gone for ever from all our hearts and minds, for the future of all humankind.
Please consider this question, who among you shed a tear for MESSI when he was “forced” by Barca’s lack of ability to keep paying his many millions a year wages til he retired (thus “forcing this multi-millionaire to leave his “beloved” Barcelona and accept PSG’s obscene contract).
Messi, had he wished, could easily afford to pay Barca for the privilege of staying and playing for them. However, he chose still more greedy wages instead. But he shed tears when leaving! Does that tell you anything, or did you simply not notice nor even care? What it tells me is that Messi loves Barca – BUT he loves greed far more. Do you agree? Or not perhaps?
This antipathy toward greed was behind my distaste – I could in all honesty have used a far stronger word – toward Ozil and to all plays who blithely accept huge wages but who do not consider their part of the bargain is to bust a gut to pay back, in sheer continued and committed hard work, the love and money that the clubs, which indirectly means we Gooners, freely give them. We have others here today who are doing as little on the field as they can get away with and who are cheating us all. Auba for one! Our club is far from alone in this, sadly!
Some suggest that we should lay off him, as he lost his mother and contracted malaria. These are facts, BUT they do not explain or excuse his laziness prior to that or his obvious uninterest in the team right now. I say he is another greedy self-centred multimulti-millionaire who is playing us for fools. And there are very few fools among us, I suggest, certainly not when it comes to assessing character. But there are still SOME!
When I began following football back in what seems like Mediaeval times now, I was still a young boy and had the attitudes and starry-eyed love of a game that I thought back then and still think, was the golden age of football, as a sport. The game itself was obviously light years behind the far superior and faster game of today, apart from all the other improvements in the technical side of football. But what we had back then was a game where the love of obscene money had not yet come and ruined the sport.
There were still star players. We had in the early sixties such as George Eastham and Joe Baker as our two outstanding players, plus the mighty Jack Kelsey in goal, who sadly retired in 1962 when injured playing for Wales. Jack was a great club man who stayed around for many years and ran the club shop in Avenell Rd. It was a small shop back then, not a colossal store, as the Armoury is today. They all earned a decent, but far from obscene, living wage and lived a comfortable but non excessive lifestyle They were normal decent humans and represented our club with pride and credit.
They remain my real heroes; they and many like them, from, Bob Wilson to Geordie Armstrong and such as Martin Keown too. None of those fine men ever short-changed anyone and gave 100% each and every day of their life, because they had honour and pride in our shirt. And they had it in spades too, which is why they are true legends! (By stark contrast, I mention though with distaste, the dirty name of Ozil!)
That is the nostalgia type section that Ken, in particular does, and so much better than I ever can.
More now about cheating as done today. In the golden age most cheating amounted to stealing yards at throw ins, appealing to the ref for free kicks, corners, etc when the player knew they were not true. Diving and throwing oneself to the ground and feigning injury were considered contemptible and cissy. It was a man’s game and essentially honest in most respects. I do not pretend our players back then were saints; of course, they were not, but they were good people with only a tiny few exceptions. Diving for pens began seriously with Francis Lee who played in the successful Man City team of the late sixties and seventies.
Franny Lee was a top player, a feisty man who scared some,t his regular “LEE, ONE PEN” lines in the next day’s papers became a sort of perverse, almost humorous saying. He was the first of the notable named notable cheaters who regularly dived for penalties.
Cheating has mushroomed more seriously since the Prem began in 1992 and was largely brought in by foreign players, esp from Italy and Spain, and later on South America, where a more ‘win at any cost’ attitude drove out our British former concept of fair play. We still applaud, rather quaintly and hopelessly IMO, when a team returns the ball to the opposing keeper after an injury. (Something deep inside us still knows the vital necessity of playing fairly, but few of us have the character or backbone to insist on it when it adversely affects our team.)
That is laudable but sad. Sad because it is one of the few regular occurrences where sportsmanship and playing in the spirit of the game is still alive. Had I the power I would use draconian but effective measures to outlaw deliberate diving and would ensure a mandatory six game Prem ban for proven cheating, plus a red card in the moment. Then double that ban to twelve games if repeated. No slap on the wrist, near useless yellow cards, as at present. No wonder they cannot stop it. You will never stop a fierce tiger with a water pistol; you need to use weapons that work.
My next lament is how refs are automatically treated as cheats and that cry of “cheat” goes forth on this fan site as on all fan sites, when the “nasty, biased refs who naturally hate AFC on sight” give a decision against us.
I much agree that, in general, the present standard of Prem refs is historically poor. But the regular cheat accusation is IMO complete nonsense and a totally out of order, IMO legally actionable, charge!
Were I am Prem ref and was openly and in print called a cheat, I would certainly start legal proceedings. I await the first ref to do so with hope, and urge them to do so. The law is for anyone, be they ever so powerful or ever so humble, as the saying goes. Of course, if one is poor, then recourse to law is far more difficult but that is an inequality I will not tackle here and now.
I have far more that I wish to say but will go no further in this piece. I am not known for being brief, God knows, as I like to debate fully, sensibly and that needs words and details.
I hope you will forgive this long piece and hope I may, just may have sown a seed or so that one or two of you may consider in your thoughts. I realise most will slate me and my views but that has never stopped me from speaking MY truth, as I honestly see it.
God bless and lets all hope and pray this under-siege manager of ours comes up with the goods this season.
I propose to wait and see with hope, but in all truth, not overmuch conviction!