My “Irks” and annoyances of life in the lower leagues

As I near in on my 28th birthday, I have found myself becoming increasingly grumpier and more irritable than ever before. There has been particular behaviour in the lower league football environment that has only helped to fuel these grievances, or as I like to call them – “My Irks”. These are the things that don’t full blown piss me off, but do go some way in getting underneath my skin. Hopefully getting my top 5 irks of the Scottish game off my chest will go some way in making me a nicer person, so here we go, in no particular order…


  1. Music


Bob Marley once famously said:
“One thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
Bob had clearly not swanned into a Scottish lower league dressing room an hour prior to kick off when he coined that phrase. The genre of pre-game music in almost every dressing room is some kind of hard hitting dance music. It is also a particularly mind numbing type of dance music – think hybrid of DJ Rankin and Scooter. The purpose is to get you pumped up for the match but it inevitably leaves me with a sore head and cold sweated memories of my mid teenage years where I was rejected by more than one girl playing the sweet tunes of “Dancing in the Dark” from her mobile phone (DJ Cammy, not Bruce Springsteen). It upsets and irks me greatly.


bob marley
“you heard ae DJ Rankin mate?



2. Herbalife


A main stay in the Scottish lower league for as long as I can remember with lots of budding entrepreneurs getting onto the Herbalife craze. For those of you who are not aware of this product let me shed some light on it. It is a supplement company which portrays itself to be healthy when it is far from this. Any sport scientist with any expertise has castigated it, yet it continues to go from strength to strength and there are several in the lower league game who swear by it. Many teammates have attempted to punt this gear to me over the years and for me it has become the male version of Avon. I’m hoping the phrase “Here, yer da sells Herbalife” will become a popular trolling phrase in years to come. Then again, the guys that are selling it are usually in great shape whilst I sit here bad mouthing them with a body like Harry Potter. Maybe I need to sign up.



3. Shocking twitter behaviour


Those of you who have read my previous blogs will understand my disdain for the twitter behaviour of some of my part time professional counterparts. My hate has become more complex with every passing day and there are many strands to this hatred.
My biggest bug bear, is this type of tweet which will fill my timeline come 5pm on a Saturday:


“What a win, boys were unbelievable – fans kept us going from minute 1 to the end. Buzzing to get another 2 assists”


Firstly, you snuck a win against a team relatively close to your ability level – so no, the boys were not unbelievable. That, my friend, is over exaggeration and what we teachers like to call hyperbole.


Secondly, the pandering to the masses gives me the cold sweats. I agree that everyone who plays at our level owes a lot of gratitude to the fans but you have provided a complete lack of originality and anyone with half a brain can see right through this. I find it strange how you don’t see this tweet after the team loses the game…


Thirdly, assists… ASSISTS! You are tweeting about passing the ball to someone who scores! This again falls under the pandering bracket and irks me greatly. This week I even saw a few people tweet “buzzing to score my penalty in the shoot out of the challenge cup”. The Jobbie Cup. Stop the world I want to get off.


Luckily, I’m not the only one becoming disillusioned by the self congratulatory manner of this type of tweet. There has been fantastic policing work of this behaviour from ex-St Mirren full back David Van Zanten, I urge you to check out his work on twitter. In dressing rooms up and down the country this twitter behaviour has started to become a finable offence and hopefully one by one we can kick this nonsense out the game.



Underrated twitter activity from this man





4. Superstitions


Although these aren’t for me, I do understand the conventional type of superstition. The routine and habitual patterns can keep certain players mentally prepared and I have came across varied superstitions that range from folding their clothes in a certain manner to having to be the last guy to exit the changing room. I can just about get on board with this.



On the other hand, there have been superstitions that I cannot accept. One player I previously played with had to play with the same pair of pants underneath his shorts – this kind of makes sense. However this player would refuse to wash them for an entire season leaving the pants smelling like a mix of wet grass, sweat and faecal matter and, more worryingly, left them looking like a dirty nappy. He would change beside me and I would get a waft of the increasingly bad aroma around my nostrils pre kick off.


There was also another player that I can’t name for legal reasons (his name sounds like Limmy Jister) who had a peculiar habit. As the manager was giving his final piece of advice, a large cloud of flavoured smoke would pass over my head and leave me with clouded vision temporarily. This man was vaping at 5 to 3 and this pattern would repeat itself every Saturday without fail. Perhaps this was less of a superstition and more of an addiction. I got over this particular irk, as the individual in question was a very entertaining man in the dressing room.


5. The Big Time Charlie


Last but not least, is the cult of the “Big Time Charlie” – another regular occurrence across my limited football career to date. Luckily, there aren’t any in my current changing room but credit has to go to the Arbroath management team for building a team without these characters (surely this will finally get me a game). These guys are in it for themselves, point the finger at everyone else and only care about their individual performance.


Although generalising, it tends to be younger players on loan from full time clubs (Scott Martin, Dale Hilson and several others are exceptions to this rule). Some will pitch up and have a half-arsed attitude because they know they still have a contract at their parent club. They have developed a swagger that is difficult to neutralise, piss off journeymen colleagues and do not put the work in that could take them to the next level. I find this trait irkable (not a real word is it?) as they are wasting their talent and more often than not they find themselves released and out into the big bad world where reality finally hits them.


Then again, it’s never nice to sit in a changing room, look to your right and see yourself playing alongside a semi-balding blogger.



These are my grievances, the factors that grind my gears, my pet peeves and my irks. I am most certainly a hypocrite as I have taken part in large parts of this behaviour yet continue to moan about it. All being said, I am quite happy to put up with all of these minor infringements for a few more years of kicking a ball about for money. I think I probably need to get over myself and get on with it…

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