For more info see: Nightclub Brawls.... How Very Embarrassing and Forum thread: Click Here
It is the eve of the Olympic sprint final. Ussain Bolt is on course for Gold and the history books but instead of reflecting, resting and preparing himself mentally he is in a nightclub, the result of which being a fracas and a press photo opportunity to see the athletics star grappling with the a bouncer in a rage. I imagine this for the purpose of alliteration for it is unlikely to happen any time soon. Perhaps it is an extreme example. We are not vying for Olympic Gold after all. We are simply vying to ensure our status in the Premier League; the £60 Million windfall and worldwide sporting status it brings to those good enough to play in the worlds greatest league. Not that important then, obviously.
After last nights revelation that three of the clubs players -Collins, Herd and Delph- were involved in a nightclub brawl, four days before one of the biggest games of the season, the gulf between the club and its supporters grew ever more wide. The lack of cultural and historical understanding shown by the board in selecting McLeish, first prized the gap open; their belligerent refusal to rectify that mistake and address the fans concerns, drove a wedge deep in to that gap and at times the apathetic performance of the players has done nothing but exacerbate how wide it has become. We were left collectively asking: Do any of you (Stan excluded) actually care?
Perhaps after the Bolton fiasco Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner finally realised that the club they thought the understood, they didn't actually understand at all, having woefully underestimated the passion and the intensity of their 'customer base' and the history and heritage that it is steeped in. In the early hours of Tuesday Morning outside of Gatecrasher three of the clubs players demonstrated for the cameras that they didn't quite understand it either.
The images on the video are ugly, garish and disgraceful. Undoubtedly, such scenes probably occur many times over when the booze, testosterone and atmosphere all start to kick in. Broad Street's police bill alone would perhaps testify to that on a weekly basis. In my youth I was involved in a few 'incidents' myself, though I didn't carry the responsibility of conducting myself in a way that befitted my club or my sport. I didn't play for Aston Villa. Herd, Collins and Delph do. Seeing them in this state leaves me feeling betrayed when I think of the money I am putting in, the heart and the voice I try and display in supporting them, even if that means standing in the rain watching them sink to defeat. If we can support them in such dire times can they not support us in doing the right thing? In short, four days before the Spurs game it's a bit of a kick in the teeth. Thanks Lads.
Premier League footballers in population terms are an elite bunch. 'Needles in haystacks,' springs to mind. With that comes expectation and demands on the individual, far exceeding those placed on other young men who can regularly turn to bright lights and alcohol to let off steam without the need for personal and athletic discipline. Elite footballers need to focus not only on the physical but also on the psychological and mental aspects of themselves, whilst being conscious of what their behaviour models, for the an unwelcome camera phone is never far from view when you play for a a big club on a big wage. If players fail to respect and understand the demands upon them they are in danger of not only knocking half a percent of their performance (which in a league of fine lines could be a toes length to a goal saving tackle or that well weighted killer ball in the 92nd minute) they are also in danger of bringing their club and themselves into disrepute. In short, from pre-season onwards they must show integrity, character and discipline.
I am of the mindset that elite athletes have no place in alcoholic environments or places where conflict and confrontation are likely to occur. Thus, Aston Villa footballers have no business being on the streets of Birmingham at 2.45 in the morning because they were clubbing. If you like the night life lads and all that comes with it then hand in your shirt on your way out the door. This is not the 1970's this is the pro-sports science era of 2012 were ever drop of sweat matters. Get with the programme because we don't want the honour of playing for this great club being so besmirched, disrespected or misunderstood. I feel, as many of you do, that we have a duty to protect the badge on the front of the shirt and not the name on the back of it. If that means heavy fines, reading the riot act and cancelled contracts then so be it. Standards must be set and enforced.
Meanwhile the gap between club and supporters grows ever wider. Perhaps our expectation that Randy Lerner would understand the fabric of the club is far fetched. After all, a mid western American is hardly going to be steeped in the British Footballing psyche; even if has tasted sporting rivalry in the NFL, a game between the Bears and the Browns is hardly going to match the sort of rivalry and fanaticism seen on that fateful Monday night against the Blues in 2003. Hopefully, he understands it now. I just hope ALL the players get it too.
So no more brawling; no more speeches or statements please because we are staring down the barrel here. Save your muscle and fight for the pitch and give us all you've got because we are giving all we've got both in heart and pocket.
Previous from: Villa_Grizzly:
An End To Villa Boom And Bust?
Far From The Madding Crowd
A Dirty No Good Villan
Going Through The Change
When The Fat Lady Sings
Listen Carefully, I Shall Say This Only Once....