Secret junior footballer part 2

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

I want to start off this week by extending a thank you to anyone who took the time to read last week’s first post, I received some great feedback, a lot more than expected so thank you to all who took the time. Below is my question of the week and my answer, please keep them coming. Also I have now set up a new email address to myself direct so I can reply to everyone personally, you’ll get me at thesecretjuniorfootballer@gmail.com.

When an ex senior player enters a dressing room, what kind of feelings do the junior player have about him?

In my experience all players are widely accepted in the dressing room in the first instance, now obviously we are all individuals and different personalities mean over time situations may arise where players don’t get along or don’t speak much, just like every other walk of life. In terms of a senior player dropping down I personally always view this as a positive and would always welcome them. The club are usually getting a player with real quality and good experience within the game hence the reason they have played at a higher level. I would say they would be welcomed with open arms, its then up to the individual player to do the business on the pitch.

Summer Football

This week I really want to get tongues wagging and people debating, so what better subject to drive the conversation than the age old summer football conversation? Firstly let me share my opinions, personally I am an avid supporter of summer football in this country and I cannot fathom why this hasn’t yet been changed or at the very least tested with the hope of adapting. The only reason I can possibly think of is we still have dinosaurs running the game from inside Hampden. Now I know someone will be arguing that as of next season we will have a summer league cup and teams will start earlier at professional level, and yes it’s a positive move but in my opinion not nearly enough, there is more to football in this country than the SPFL.

Enough about the “big” teams and their new league cup for now, what would summer football mean for our grade? Since the turn of the year, I am reliably informed we have lost over 100 junior football matches to weather across the regions. It baffles me that we continue to try and justify a season that runs from August until May in a country where in the months of November, December and January we have an average temperature of 2C, often lower in the mornings when pitch inspections are carried out. In these winter months we also average 20 days of rainfall with about 100mm rain actually falling, that’s before we consider the annual snowstorm that always hits us at some point!

As a player there aren’t many worse situations than preparing all week, working hard only for weather to get the better of the pitch and render your hard work almost meaningless as you are forced to sit at home on a Saturday, or even worse be dragged shopping with the missus. We need to try and develop a fixture list that beats the weather more often than not, and since none of us have the power to stop the rain/snow/frost/wind then surely a move to summer football makes sense? Of course I understand we are certain to get a deluge of rain at some point through the summer months in glorious Scotland but in most instances games will go ahead far more regularly than they will in the winter months. Most other players I know are of the same thinking as me, that’s the general consensus I get when the topic is discussed in the dressing room.

In recent seasons I have been involved in teams still playing football in early or mid-June because throughout the months of November, December and January minimal football has been played. This means come April when the lighter nights are back you find that you have to cram 2 and 3 games in every week, this often leads to players missing games due to prior commitments or clubs rushing their players and staff around to make 6:30pm kick off times, I’ve often turned up 30 minutes or less before kick-off then had to try and go out and play a game, it’s far from ideal. Also playing into June means players, staff and club officials are unlikely to get more than a few weeks off before pre-season begins and you are back at it. I’ve also had experiences where I have went weeks on end without wages due to the financial implications faced by clubs caused by a lack of games throughout winter months, and while this comes as no fault of their own, nor is it the players doing so why should we suffer?

For you fans out there, surely watching games in the summer appeals to you more than the cold, wet, dreich winter weather? I often feel attendances suffer in the winter as some fans; especially those with kids opt to stay at home rather than stand in the wind and the rain or in the freezing cold to watch a game of football. The flip side of this is when games are postponed, as discussed already we are then forced to cram them in towards the end of the season, what does this mean for fans? Well firstly you don’t get your Saturday fix of football as often as you would like, and when you do the quality of games will suffer due to torn up pitches or just the general weather ruining the spectacle, weather can very often be a leveler in a game of football. Also games need to be played eventually and when they do come along thick and fast later in the season fans are asked to stump up for 2 or 3 games a week and for some people that may not be a sustainable outgoing, so once again attendances are liable to suffer and clubs lose out further on money.

Here’s my solution, let’s start the season in early March with an aim of finishing in late October. Yes you will lose some players to holidays in the summer months, but I dare say not many more than you already do throughout the season. Summer nights will allow for more midweek games, but they can be carefully planned in advance rather than the usual late season scramble. Pitches for the most part will be in a healthier condition therefore surely improving the standard of the majority of games? For me it’s a no brainer, it would allow players and club staff a longer close season break to spend time with family and friends, especially around the festive period. It would allow fans a break in the winter months, and hopefully when they were attending games in summer they would be seeing a better product. Clubs would save money on pitches and training facilities, as most pitches would need less work and the lighter nights would allow for training to be done on grass rather than these community astro’s where clubs are paying out top dollar 2 nights a week in rent. This would ease financial problems and hopefully allow a more consistent revenue stream.

Let me sign off this week by just trying something a little new, I’m going to highlight my result of last week and game to look forward to most this weekend.

Result of the week

Bonnyrigg Rose 0-5 Pollok

What a result for Tony McInally’s men in the Scottish cup, it was tie of the round when the teams were drawn but I don’t think many expected this result. Bonnyrigg flying high in the East Superleague, top with games to spare and Pollok top in the West, but perhaps falsely due to the many games their counterparts have in hand. I along with most expected a tight affair sneaked by the odd goal but Pollok had other ideas and by all accounts were rampant. I’ve seen the goals and Carlo Monti looks to be making a real difference adding real creativity, to the already strong Pollok frontline. Bonnyrigg seemed to have an off day but I’m sure they will now switch their attentions to the league campaign and the ability to fully focus on that could turn out to be a deciding factor.

Game of the weekend

Irvine Meadow v Petershill
Bottom of the table Irvine Meadow at home to Petershill who currently occupy the play-off spot, due to a poorer goal difference than Beith. Two clubs who would have set out this season with ambitions to be in the top half, maybe even in the title reckoning. Petershill will be looking at this one thinking a win can get them looking up the league, lose and all of a sudden it’s squeaky bum time as Meadow would close the gap and Arthurlie under new management are sure to get a lift in the coming weeks. For Meadow it’s a must win, defeat leaves them a mountain to climb with what would be 12 games remaining they would probably need 7 or more wins to stay up.

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