Well that’s 2 pre season sessions under the belt, or in the bank should I say. No less than 5 minutes into the changing room and Ricky little and Mark Whatley are pestering about the first team night out, never have I seen a pair of guys so hungry! It’s good to be back but I must admit that my heart sank when the boys mentioned a certain cup competition. Let me explain.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, the games start thick and fast with the league cup starting in the middle of July. Although an early start, these games are competitive, demanding and great preparation for your league campaign. The same cannot be said about the challenge cup however, and it is fair to say I was spitting fire when I heard about the latest development. This cup is uninspiring for both fans and players and that’s why it is known in some circles as “The Jobbies Cup” – or maybe it’s just me that calls it that.
I hate losing and I think this is the same with anyone who engages in professional sport. It goes without saying that as a competitive footballer you go into every game with the want to win. On the other hand, I can’t say I am overwhelmed with disappointment when my team is knocked out at the early stages of this competition. This may come across as an unprofessional attitude and against the spirit of the game but I believe I have good reason to think this.
Not happy with adding Welsh, Northern Irish and Irish teams to the competition; Mr Doncaster and his mates have now extended his reach all the way to the lofty heights of the Vanarama National League. This “cunning” idea was flawed in theory and even more flawed in practice. In previous blogs, I’ve talked about the “Camel Trek” but this would take that to a whole new level. A quick search into Google maps reveals you’re looking at a mere 9 hour car journey from Arbroath (18 hour round trip), with some Scottish teams coming from even further afield. Bordering ridiculous for a Saturday jaunt and becomes a logistical nightmare when faced with the prospect during the working week.
Although I completely disagree with it, I can see the argument for including Welsh and Irish teams. The teams included are the best teams in their respective leagues and it could be viewed as testing the Scottish lower league game against teams whom are the best in their country. The same cannot be said about Boreham Wood and Sutton united who are competing in the 5th tier of English Football – what credibility can be gained from this?
The embarrassment that could occur if one of these two teams wins the tournament would also be a sore yin, not least for the social media reaction. You will have several pieces of gammon from the Brexit heartlands (usually seen with picture of Tommy Robinson as their display picture and St Georges flag in their bio) ripping the pish out of our game and giving them credence to their deluded belief that Burnley are a bigger club the Celtic.
Another recent aspect of the Jobbies Cup is the addition of under 20 sides – this is also an absolute shocker. It has already proven to be a disaster with these teams getting their tawties handed to them in almost every game. Again, I understand the argument, it is important to give young players opportunities to test themselves in the man’s game; however, I would suggest that the loan market already caters for this. These guys will get to test themselves playing alongside experienced part time professional players against similar teams. In my opinion this is far more beneficial for the development of young players. It can be sink or swim but that is the cutthroat nature of football.
The cup was, and is still is, definitely in need of a revamp but this was not it. My suggestion would be to include more junior, lowland league and Highland league sides in the mix. I am not suggesting all of them, as this would dilute the competition further, but perhaps the best 4 or 5 from each league. These teams are competitive and could easily hold their own against several SPFL sides. Furthermore, they would see this not as a diddy cup but as an opportunity to test themselves against sides within the professional game. The games would have meaning and be competitive and this is potentially the revamp the cup requires to generate the momentum craved.
The complete lack of understanding from the SPFL towards the reality of life of a part time footballer is not something which surprises me but is something which thoroughly annoys us all. They don’t listen and don’t want to hear the players and fans opinions on these issues, and that has to change. So, Mr Doncaster, I do hope this blog finds you well.