The Club Players Association has began it campaign for change with the release of a poster which accurately portrays the feelings of every club player in our game who will fell ‘they are the man’.
The poster gets right to the heart of the problems that the average club player faces. Being left in limbo in the heat of the summer unable to book holidays out of the fear of missing an important game. Leaving a social life, children and family behind for three quarters of the year training ten times as much as they play.
The championship games being played on heavy pitches with wind, rain, hail and almost every element other than shine pouring down on to them. While the summer months when the sun splits the sky is reserved for sessions where managers gamble on the intensity out of fear the call could come that a championship game is a few days away.
The statement talks of the club player being at the bottom of the food chain yet they are dictated to by the powers that be as county is king. The county team will consist of around 25/30 men in a county while hundreds and in some cases thousands of club players will not play a game for months.
The powers that be are more interested in manifesting filler problems and being proactive in fixing something that isn’t broken, hence the mark, the black card and the football is dead cries. Yet, the debate around the fixtures calendar has gathered more and more momentum for years, reaching fever pitch in recent times. But surprise, surprise the same problems have existed year after year.
It is not only the club player that would gleefully accept a fairer calendar year the county player also suffers. Take Dublin star Diarmuid Connolly for example. The St.Vincent’s man began his season in January with the ‘boys in blue’ playing into October claiming another Celtic Cross in October after the All Ireland Final went to a replay. Unable to truly celebrate yet another successful year he joined up with his club claiming county and provincial success waiting until the next calendar year to meet Ulster champions Slaughtneil in the semi final…I’m sure one of the biggest names in the game would support the idea of making the whole season fit into the one calendar year.
The first month of the year is taken up by pre-season competitions such as the O’Bryne and Dr McKenna Cups which are not even nearly given the respect a month would deserve. For 2017 the Dublin squad will be holidaying in Jamaica throughout the O’Bryne leaving Paul Clarke in charge. Donegal have decided to field their under 21’s with Rory Gallagher opting to give his players a break. It begs the question why have them taking up time if they are not being taken seriously?
I for one am interested to see what difference if any the Club Players Association can make but I will be pulling my support behind them and with Declan Brennan at the helm they have every chance of success but will those at the top allow tradition to be broken? It all remains to be seen…