Secret Footballer Part 1

 

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From inside the dressing room – The Secret ‘Junior’ Footballer

Juniors – Why we love it!

Firstly let me introduce myself, anonymously of course, I play part time football and have done for a number of years now. I have a passion for reading and writing away from the game. Having read the well-received and hugely successful “The Secret Footballer” books written by a former English Premier League player, I was inspired to combine my interests. With the support of site owners at the www.thejuniors.info we thought it would be fun to do something similar with a player at this level, yours truly. I’ll try to give you an insight into the life of a part time footballer, share my views on the hot topics and answer any questions you may want to ask. Hopefully this proves popular and we can continue to increase coverage of the game at this level, as well as generate a bit of interest. Here goes, wish me luck!

This week I want to shine a light on Junior football, let’s delve into why we love it so much, why it’s an undervalued part of the game in this country. Yes there are many flaws within the set-up, of that I have no doubt but for this week let’s focus on the positives. Why good players continually come and play with clubs at this level, why the hardcore fan base don’t miss a moments action, why committee men and women volunteer hours upon hours to keep clubs running.

I live and breathe football as I’m sure many of you do, we won’t agree on everything, but we at least have that in common. If you’re reading this then you follow junior football in some capacity no doubt, it could be that you are a manager, coach, player, committee person, fan. Do you ever wonder why you bother? Let me give you a few gentle reminders why it’s worth the time and money you invest.
Firstly the value for money is incomparable with the professional league set up; premier league junior games will cost you a £6 entry fee. SPFL League 2 will on average cost you £12 for a paying adult, now I don’t want to be disrespectful to any of the clubs in League 2 but for me that does not represent value for money. As a player, I have experienced League 2 granted a few years ago when it was the Third Division and the difference in quality between the top level of the Junior game and these clubs is minimal, it is certainly not enough to merit any punter paying double the price. I know the fans of these clubs may feel insulted and jump to defend their clubs and that’s fine with me, but in my opinion they are being fleeced and I know I’m not alone in my thinking.

Less travelling is also a massive plus point, now while I am a champion of combining the regions in some capacity currently the majority of fans and players can attend a game home or away and be back in the house for 6pm every week, often earlier. That for me as a player is crucial when deciding which club I want to play for, it means I don’t have to lose a whole day to football every Saturday and I can get back home to see my young child and fiancé for at least a couple of hours. I miss out on enough quality time with them through work and training two nights every week, so for me and plenty of my peers out there the locality of games is perfect.

I feel there is a genuine connection between players and fans at most Junior clubs, I know certainly at my club and any I have been at the majority of the players will spend half an hour or so having a drink in the company of some fans after the game. Most managers I have played under actually encourage the players within the changing room that win, lose or draw you go and say thanks to the people who spend hard earned cash to watch you or go and the face the music if the performances aren’t up to scratch. I hope that the fans feel that connection and feel part of the club because of that. A lot of players at higher levels are kept in a bubble, and I don’t just mean the biggest clubs in the country. I’ve seen it first hand in the senior leagues; often fans are ushered away from the ground and by the time most players are leaving the place will be empty. Now I am not tarring every senior player in Scotland with the same brush as of course they are all individuals in their own right, neither am I saying every junior player makes time for fans. My point is more of a generalization, that as a fan of a junior club you are far more likely to build a relationship and get to know a player than if you support a senior club and that surely is a good thing?

Further on from the above point, fans of Junior clubs will find it far easier to get involved in the running of the club if that is what they want. I see it constantly, clubs crying out for volunteers or committee persons. Obviously this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and often you may just want to turn up watch your team and head home and that’s fine, but if you do want to get involved and try and make a difference I guarantee your local Junior club will welcome you with open arms. These clubs were built in the communities for the locals, and after years on the scene that hasn’t changed. They truly are clubs for the people run by the people and long may it continue in that manner.

I just want to finish off by tipping my hat to Linlithgow Rose, who after a heroic effort came up short against Premier League Ross County over the weekend losing 4-2 in Dingwall. They have truly flown the flag for Junior football in recent months and getting to the last 16 of the Scottish Cup is a phenomenal achievement. I would also urge anyone who tells me that the standard of juniors isn’t great to have a look at Linlithgow’s second goal from the weekend.

 

 

Too ask our secret footballer questions send them in to the site  scottishjuniors@hotmail.co.uk

One Response to “Secret Footballer Part 1”

  1. Avatar Martin McCoinnell says:

    Loved the column, think it will be a success! When an ex senior player enters a junior changing room, what kind of feelings do the junior players have for him in general?

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