Tag Archives: Sport

Arsenal – Groundhog day

(I appreciate this particular post is aimed at more of a niche audience, so apologies for that)

The corona virus pandemic has had a drastic effect the world over. People and civilisations forced to change their entire thought process and way of living. Some, rather drastic changes, others a bit more temporary and subtle.

One establishment that doesn’t seem to have been impacted though, is Arsenal Football Club. For those that tuned in Wednesday evening to watch the resumption of the Premier League season it was normal service resumed as Man City brushed us aside with a resounding, yet comfortable 3 nil victory. A victory which after a 3 month lay off, served as a stark reminder to us Arsenal fans of the decline of a once invincible North London club.

To be honest, did anyone expect anything else? Of Arsenal’s 37 away trips over the last two campaigns they have lost 19, drawn 8 and won just 10. It get’s worse, since winning 2-0 away at Man City back in January 2015, the Gunners record in Premier League away games against the top 6 reads: Played 22, Won 0, Drawn 8, Lost 14, Goals For 24, Goals Against 50. Just how many points have Arsenal got in those games, from a possible 66? Eight.

Once again it wasn’t just the defeat, it was the manner of the defeat. Once again, outclassed, outfought and outnumbered by a far superior Man City side that barely got out of second gear. Once again it was Arsenal players suffering from injury after injury. Seven minutes in and our midfield ‘enforcer’ Granit Xhaka gets stretched off after a seemingly innocuous challenge. Barely 10 minutes later and our new ‘powerful’ centre half Pablo Mari had to leave the field of play before being told he will miss the rest of the season after damage to his ankle ligaments. For the first 10/15 minutes we actually looked quite good and lively, but we always do. In fact, the only surprise was that it took until the stroke of half time for another defensive gaff (in an endless line of defensive gaffs) that led to Man City’s opener. Five minutes after half time and David Luiz had not only hauled an opponent down inside the penalty area, but had got himself sent off in the process. 2 nil down and GAME OVER. From then on it was simply a matter of how many. From then on it looked like men vs boys. The thing is, you can accept teams have bad games. Man City are a class outfit and on their day would beat practically any team they are up against.

Problem for me is, I can’t remember the last time we actually held our own against a top flight club, I can’t remember the last time Man City actually didn’t beat us 3 zip. I can’t remember the last time we actually defended like a top European club or ended the final whistle without any season long injuries and that horrible dejected feeling.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka receiving treatment during the game against Man City on Wednesday night

Was it Albert Einstein who once described insanity as ”doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results”. How poignant to Arsenal fans, how relevant to the club since leaving fortress Highbury. You see for me, I see little to no difference in practically anything from the last few years of Wengers tenure, to Emery and now Arteta. What has changed? Nothing. We still buy the same sort of players, we still try and play the same style of football, we are still hopeless at the back and we are still nothing short of a joke away from home.

We change nothing yet we expect different results? Maybe we are the fools. Arsenal are the most expensive team to watch in Europe. Back in 2018 an Arsenal game would cost the average fan 74 pounds. More expensive than Real Madrid (55), more expensive than Bayern Munich (54) and more expensive than Man Utd (53). Where are we in the Premier League table right now? NINTH. Sitting amongst teams such as Burnley and Crystal Palace. Top 4 and Champions League is now nothing more than a long forgotten dream and a nostalgic longing for the past. A title challenge? Jheez you’d be put in straight jacket if you started mentioning that phrase around the Emirates stadium these days.

The issues are fairly obvious, yet so readily ignored – ownership and arrogance.

Historically the club was owned by family members of the Bracewell-Smith and Hill-Wood families. Key figures such as David Dein would oversee proceedings at the club. People with a genuine love and appreciation for Arsenal and it’s values. How different compared to nowadays. For in 2007, Arsenal succumbed to the modern way of football and sold their soul to devil, so to speak. Two rival tycoons Stan Kroenke and Alisher Usmanov were allowed to acquire significant share holdings in the club. In 2018 Kroenke bought Usmanov’s share for 550 million and is now the solitary share holder of Arsenal. Another billionaire tycoon buying up another football club. Something that is gradually ruining football in my opinion, but that is a discussion for another day.

Kroenke the American businessman, is estimated to be worth around 10 billion dollars. He also owns NFL team The Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets of the NBA, Colorado Rapids of Major League soccer, along with many other teams / ventures. To put it simply he does not care about Arsenal, he only cares about them making him money. He is a business man playing with his latest toy. He rarely if ever attends game, and not once in the 13 years since he first bought shares in the club has he put a single penny into the team. Us Arsenal fans now face the prospect of seeing our club privately owned by one man. And it should be of concern not just to those who follow Arsenal but to football fans in general. Once they are bought, assets can be stripped or clubs allowed to fall in to disrepair, with nothing the fans can do to stop it. It’s very much a worst-case scenario, but when it all goes wrong – as it has at Coventry, which is owned by a London-based hedge fund – the impact on a club and a community can be devastating.

How can you expect to be successful if your owner only cares about one thing? Making money for himself. This philosophy, this culture must surely reverberate throughout the club. Decisions are no longer based on success or tradition, but on making net profit. Arsenal fan’s are being played. The most expensive tickets in the whole of Europe and for what? To watch a team languish in mid table, play in the mickey mouse Europa league and line the back pockets of an American billionaire. Sell your soul to the devil and sooner or later he will come knocking.

Secondly and perhaps just as importantly, is a sense of arrogance and entitlement which it seems resounds in and around the club. Since the plethora of trophies under Wenger and the magnificent invincibles season, that hunger, desire and ability to adapt has well and truly dissolved. It’s almost as if Arsenal know their own problems and what needs to change but are too cocky to do anything about it.

Surely a good manager is able to adapt to the personnel he has at his disposal and plans accordingly. It’s all very well trying to play this attractive, possession based, ‘tip tappy’ style of football that the likes of Barcelona play, IF YOU HAVE Barcelona type players. Once upon a time Arsenal did. Well we don’t anymore, far from it.

The spine of Arsenals team during the height of their success (proved by going the entire season without losing a single game) was this: Campbell & Toure centre halfs, Gilberto & Vieira centre mid, Henry & Bergkamp up top. Power, aggression, skill, flair, pace, tenacity and hunger all in an abudance.

Compare that to the one that started the game against Man City: Mustafi & Mari centre halfs, Guendouzi & Xhaka centre mid, Willock Nketiah up top. The comparison between the two teams is so far apart they’re on different postcodes. The difference is truly astonishing, YET the attempted style of play is exactly the same. What do the management team or any of us really expect? Would be a bit like going to war with the best, most destructive artillery and army in the world and then 10 years later going to war with a weaponry not one tenth as powerful as before, yet still adopting exactly the same tactics and expecting to win. You would get annihilated.

The Invincibles team from 03/04 – a truly remarkable season

Now if I can see that, and everyone else can see it, then it’s obvious that the people making the decisions at the club can see it. Yet why no change in approach? Arrogance or just plain ignorance? Confidence in your own ability is good along with an element of stubbornness, yet surely there comes a time when those ingredients are counter productive.

During the last few years of Wengers reign I saw no difference in approach and style of play, even though the results and performances were gradually getting worse. We went from title challengers to top 4 to top 6. Under Emery and Arteta we have regressed yet further. Currently it looks to be a struggle to make even the Europa League Yet still the style of football and tactical approach remains exactly the same. I simply do not understand.

There must come an enlightening, a crossroads so to speak when you must stop and reassess. If Arsenal want to play this extravagant, eye catching style of football, then invest 300/400 hundred million and actually go out and buy the players to do it. Will that happen? I somehow very much doubt it. The summer transfer window is fast approaching and I’d bet my mortgage on what will happen. We will invest in a dodgy second division centre half from Greece or somewhere alike. A small skinny centre mid with decent technical ability and a delicate touch, but who will effectively get bullied in the physically demanding Premier League. ANOTHER winger and probably a striker on 400 grand a week who doesn’t really want to be here.

Why not adopt a different approach? If you haven’t got the funds or can’t attract the top players then adapt to the players you have got and the players you can attract.

We so so badly lack a leader. Someone who when the chips are down, roles his sleeves up and inspires those around him. I rate Aubemeyang I really do, but he’s not a leader or a captain. Neither is Bellerin or Xhaka. In fact I can’t pick one single leader in that current Arsenal team. Why not go out and actually buy one? A proper captain. A Patrick Veira, a Tony Adams, a Cesc Fabregas. People say we haven’t had the money. That is an urban myth. In the past 5 seasons Arsenal have spent 443 million on transfers. Arsenal are also currently 4th in the Premier League wage bill table, spending an eye watering 223 million each year on wages. You mean to tell me that will all that money and all their resources – scouts, data analysts, negotiators, transfer guru’s etc, that they can’t entice a decent leader to the club? Absolute rubbish. They just don’t want to. They believe their current style and philosophy is the right one and they aren’t willing to budge.

In fact, I think Arsenal have had more than enough money to at least compete. Yet how many times have we been utterly embarrassed in big games? 10-2 on aggregate against Bayern Munich, 8-2 and 6-1 against Man Utd, 6-0 against Chelsea, 5-1 against Liverpool, 4-0 against Southampton and so on and so forth. We were told we needed to leave Highbury and build a new 60 thousand seater stadium to allow us to compete with Europe’s finest. Well, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. We now get swept aside in any big game, haven’t won away from home against a top 6 side for over 5 years and are currently struggling to finish in the top 8.

Arsenal’s 8-2 defeat a Old Trafford was a low point for many Arsenal fans

It’s not that we haven’t had the money it’s that we’ve spent atrociously. Mesut Ozil – 42 million, Danny Welbeck – 18 million, Calum Chambers – 18 million, Granit Xhaka – 40 million, Shkodran Mustafi – 36 million, Lucas Perez – 18 million, Henrickh Mkhitaryan – 30 million, Sokratis – 15 million, Nicolas Pepe 72 million, Kieran Tierney -25 million.

I actually rate Pepe but he cost 72 million and barely plays? A club record transfer fee surely means there’s aspirations of you being the focal point of that team. Pepe can barely break in to the starting 11 let alone be a focal point of it. Kieran Tierney another player I rate but yet another Arsenal player who seems to play 3 games and then spends 23 injured. I don’t know, maybe I am just being harsh..

How long have Arsenal been crying out for a proper centre half. A physical, assured centre half? Years if not decades. Who do we buy? Gabriel, Chambers, Squillaci, Silvestre, Mustafi, Sokratis, Djourou, Mavropanos. We sell out every single week, we have the highest ticket prices in Europe and we resort to buying bargain basement type players that simply aren’t good enough. I think it pretty much summed it up on Wednesday evening when David Luiz came sauntering on to the pitch mid way through the first half. A man far beyond his best years whose contract is due to expire in a matter of weeks. So here we are away to arguably the best side in the Premier League, and who is leading our back line? A player at the back end of his career who the club have admittedly told they don’t plan on keeping past the end of the month. How is that allowed to happen at a club like Arsenal? Beggars belief.

How long have Arsenal been crying out for a proper central midfielder? A midfield general, a dictator and presence that sends shivers through the opposition. Years if not decades. I don’t think we’ve ever really replaced Patrick Vieira. Fast forward 15 years since his departure and who do we have lining up in the centre of the park against the league champions? Guendouzi and Xhaka. Need I say more?

We spent 42 million (which was a club record at the time) on Ozil. Fourty two million pounds yet every manager so far has eventually decided he doesn’t really fit in with their plans. A man on 350 grand a week – nearly double what anyone else is on, yet a man who doesn’t travel to away games because he doesn’t make enough of an impact when on the pitch. Astounding, truly astounding.

Who is sanctioning these buys? I hear Arsenal have a unique way of acting in the transfer market. Apparently they base a lot of their purchases on data and analytics via a methodical strategy they have worked out. Well that is all very well if you’re playing Football Manager or picking The Sun Dream Team, however it’s a bit different in real life. Stat’s and data don’t win you football matches, as so clearly proved by Arsenal in recent times. Stat’s don’t account for what players do when they go one down against Liverpool at Anfield, or Sheffield Utd have got 10 men behind the ball. Stat’s are a small percentage of what makes a football player. Why base your whole transfer strategy on something that dismisses some of the most basic key ingredients of a footballer?

What will it take for someone to stand up at the club and actually admit it needs a complete overhaul? But then again why would they when it is making so much money for those at the very top of the pyramid. I fell out of love with Arsenal a long time ago. I still support them but that intense passion and affection is no longer there. Maybe I was spoilt growing up with players such as Adams, Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg, Bergkamp etc. Maybe it was too much too soon? I think there’s possibly some truth in that.

I believe strongly however, that football fans enjoy seeing players they can relate to in some way and players they feel connected to. My favourite player growing up was Ashley Cole. He just represented Arsenal to me – fight, determination, skill and a never say die attitude. Same with Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere. I look at the players out there now pulling on the shirt – players like Guendouzi, Bellerin and Mustafi. They just don’t feel like Arsenal players to me. Not the characteristics I used to associate with Arsenal, and fell in love with anyway.

I can see why Arsenal fans get so frustrated and angry, I really can. I don’t agree with some of the abuse they hurl at the players and staff but I do agree with the animosity and rejection they feel. Arsenal fans are played, that’s the truth. Forking out extortionate prices to effectively fund players on 350 grand a week, a team in 9th place and Stan Kroenke’s beloved American sports team’s. Do you know how else Arsenal fans have been played? By Stan Kroenke purchasing Arsenal Football Club using a massive loan from the bank, and using profit generated by Arsenal Football Club to pay that loan back. What a sad state of affairs.

A team who simply cannot compete with the top sides anymore, should not be charging the top ticket prices. It’s immoral and stinks of a club having lost it’s values. Would a second rate theatre show or an average tech company charge sky high prices? No they wouldn’t.

Arsenal Fan TV – some of the abuse is uncalled for, however I do understand their frustration

From when I first remember watching Arsenal in about 97, up until they left Highbury I suppose, I knew what that team stood for. Even if they lost or the result didn’t necessarily go their way, you could still see the team’s ethics and values highlighted in everything they did. Fight, determination, passion, skill and a never say die attitude. What does that Arsenal team stand for now? I don’t really know to be honest. If I was being totally honest, they look like a bunch of players who don’t really want to be there mixed with players who know they aren’t good enough.

Not having enough money, not having the best players or needing to ‘give it time’ are excuses that can only be used for so long. Look at Leicester when they won the league, look at Wolves and Sheff Utd now. They are teams with not an ounce of the resources and profile that Arsenal have, yet teams all competing on a much more consistent basis. Put it this way, if someone said they’d give you a grand if Man City failed to with their next game, who would you want it to be against, Arsenal or Sheff Utd?… Says it all, really.

Arsenal so badly need an identity. If it is playing fast free flowing football like some of these other top European sides, then go out and buy the players capable of delivering that style of performance. Stop trying to deliver a Ferrari style performance with a Volkswagen style engine. Either that, or accept your personnel and adapt your style of play to win football games. Who cares if you have 70% possession, if ultimately you end up losing as many games as you win.

Arteta hasn’t been in charge long and ultimately he does need time to sort things out. If the resumption of the Premier League on Wednesday night was anything to go by though, we’ve got a long long way to go…

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta

SPORT IN SOCIETY

Someone once described sport as the most ‘magnificent irrelevance’. I can’t remember who said it, or when they said it, but it resonated with me then, and has done ever since. A brief yet clear statement that provided me with an immediate and unquestioned feeling of agreement, without need for further explanation. For sport (at any level) can provide us with amazing highs and painful lows. It can bring joy as well as heartache, it can bring delirium as well as despair. It can lead to elation, euphoria and ecstasy, but just as easily result in grief, misery and woe.

In that moment when you are truly invested , whether it be a 5 side game in the local league or watching your country in the World Cup Final. In that moment nothing else matters. In that moment it is the most important thing on the planet. In that very moment you would sell your soul to the devil for victory, for that feeling of ultimate bliss. Yet, when the adrenaline rush dissipates and you’ve pacified your emotions. When you’ve had a good nights sleep and worked things over in your own mind. When the arena is empty and all is said and done, does it really matter? Not really. In the grand scheme of things does it matter if Man City win the league or Bournemouth get relegated? Does it matter if Jofra Archer stops Martin Guptill getting 2 runs in the World Cup Super Over, or if Owen Farrell scores that penalty kick against the Springboks in the Final? Not really. It might do at the time, in fact it definitely does at the time. But a week or two later, the magnitude of the moment fades and you are left with just the memories and the dreams. For sport is a magnificent irrelevance. At least, that’s one way of describing it.

Or perhaps, sport is more than that. Perhaps it is important. Perhaps it does matter beyond just that moment. Perhaps, it is in fact one of the most underestimated, undervalued foundations of which society can be built.

Sport has been a meaningful facet of civilisation for as long as as there has been written history, and possibly longer. Take the Olympic games for example which are more than 2700 years old. A worldwide event whereby countries must present their case years in advance, to even be considered a potential host. This is just one of the many examples of sport paving the way for society.

Sport brings people, communities and countries together like nothing else I can think of. Sport has the ability to teach us so many of life’s important lessons. I started playing sport when I was around 7/8 years old and my dad took me to one of the local football teams in my area. I still remember it now, being nervous as hell about that first training session. A skinny, shy, unassuming boy venturing out in to the big wide world of sport and all that it entails. Ever since that evening some 22 years ago sport has been, and continues to be one of my greatest teachers, one of my biggest outlets and one of my most loyal friends.

My youth team growing up – Westwood Wanderers FC.

It has taught me the importance of teamwork, of working alongside fellow human beings all trying to achieve the same common goal. The value of working as a unit and how integral that unit is towards achieving success. The importance of never giving up, of battling hard right until the final whistle. Of not letting your team mates down and putting aside your selfish needs for the greater good of the group.

It has taught me how to build friendships, both on the field and off. I have met countless amazing and wonderful people through sport. In fact, I don’t think I would know or have half as many friends as I do now if it wasn’t for sport. The camaraderie and sense of belonging you feel from being in a football changing room is something special. A place where you can be yourself and know that everyone around you has ‘got your back’. A place of comfort and affinity. A place where you belong.

It has taught me to judge someone on who they are as a person, and who they are inside. I have met and made some of my best friends through sport. Friends from all different races and all different rungs on the social ladder. Sport is a direct gateway for meeting such a wide variety of people – rich people, poor people, tall people, small people, black people, white people, happy people sad people. It teaches you that more often that not, deep down people want the same thing in life – to be happy and to be respected. It proves to you that if you offer someone that, more often than not you get it in return.

Sport has certainly hammered home the importance of keeping fit and healthy. Being surrounded by people who value their physical health and well being rubs off on you. I have a played a half decent level of football (semi pro) and there isn’t much room for people that don’t have a decent level of fitness. I’m sure the higher you go up, the more that level of fitness increases. Right up until you get to the Premier League, where every player is in the peak of condition. A bit like a finely tuned engine.

Sport teaches you to relish and live in the moment. Too often in life we are preoccupied with what might (or might not) happen in the future. Too often we get bogged down with the complexities in life and forget to actually enjoy it. Sport demonstrates to us the importance of sometimes just living in the moment. It also proves to us that nothing lasts forever. I have been a part of, or witnessed some fantastic teams / events down the years. Experiences that will last with me for a lifetime. As I sit here now though, all of them have been and gone. I am sure there will be more to come, but for those that have been already, they are now simply memories and recollections.

Thatcham Town FC (where I spent 4 seasons), having just reached the Southern League play off semi-final. Fond memories

I think most importantly though, sport provides us with that much needed escape. That release from the complications and hardships that life throws in our way from time time. When you step out on that football pitch, or that cricket pitch (or any sporting pitch). Or when you go for that run, or go and watch your favourite rugby team, all of life’s stresses disappear. For those 90 minutes, or that afternoon, or that period in your life you are free from all the dark thoughts, all the insecurities and all the worries, that let’s face it we all have. All of us, every single one of us, needs an outlet. No matter if we are 17 or 87, if we are male or female, if we are rich or poor, we all need an outlet. Sport for so many, can be that much needed outlet. That process with which to channel our anger and frustration. We are only human after all.

In today’s society, today’s culture, mental health is such a big issue. Unhappiness and discontent seem so rife . Why is that? Well that is a debate for another day. In short though, we have developed in to a society with a jealous undercurrent. Social media has in large, been the catalyst for this. Everyone looks from the outside like they are living the perfect life. Comparisons with others are now just a touch of a button away. Instagram influencers and celebrities on Twitter with their perfect bodies and one holiday a month lifestyles. Sadly this isn’t reality though. For the chosen few it is, for the majority it’s not. Modern culture has sadly become, very money orientated. Success and failure is often based on money, or lack of it. We are all about what we can have right here right now, about what possessions we can boast of to others. Sport at it’s core is none of this. It matters not how big your watch is, or how many followers you have on Instagram. It cares not for wealth or greed. It asks for skill mixed with courage, talent mixed with determination, and in return will provide you with somewhere you belong.

A game of football on a Saturday with your team mates, an hour’s run round the local park, a day spent watching cricket or a solid session at the gym. These are worth 20 times a counselling session or a medication tablet from the doctor. No-body, not one single person has ever got back from a decent session at the gym, or a tough run round the park, and said ‘you know what I really regret doing that’. As Hollywood as it may sound, sport is good for the soul.

Today’s population seem to have so much pent up anger and frustration. There is so much cruelty and injustice out there happening every day of every week Why are we so angry? We all lead such busy lives. The rat race is in full force in the 21st century. Racing to wake up, racing to jobs we don’t really like, racing to meetings we don’t really care about. Stuck in endless traffic jams and endless queues at the shops. It’s no good for us, it creates animosity and ill feeling. Sport is that process by which so many could vent their frustration and anger. An opportunity to let off the proverbial steam, and re-focus.

Sport is one of the few avenues in life, where money or social ranking means little compared to ability and will. Think of Anthony Joshua, Steven Gerrard, Lewis Hamilton, Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling. All sportsman who started off on the bottom rung of the ladder, so to speak. No money, no help and no prospects. Now they are all (or were) at the very top of their chosen sport. Those five, and so many others could quite easily have slipped in to a life of crime or a life not destined for the dizzying heights they find themselves at now. Sport provided them with that chance. That glimmer of hope, that light at the end of the tunnel.

England international Raheem Sterling, widely regarded as one of the best players in the country at present.

A lot of the problem I feel, is sport isn’t valued and promoted enough at school, and from an early age. To be fair my Primary School headmaster was amazing. He loved sport and helped me and my best friend endless amounts. He is a rare and dying breed though. Once I got to secondary school, sport was barely mentioned. An hour, maybe 2 a week of physical education, and that was it. No sports teams and no coaching. Instead I and everyone else were made to sit through algebra maths classes and science lessons spent dissecting the Periodic Table. How many of us have used those classes to help us moving forward? I bet you can count the true number on one hand, maybe one finger. How many people have used sport to help them moving forward? How much time have you got!

I agree and accept that it’s difficult because you need to try and include everyone, but there are so many sports out there. Football, cricket, golf, running, tennis, gymnastics, athletics, swimming, boxing, bowls etc etc etc, the list is endless. Surely the majority of people can relate or show an interest in at least one kind of sport. Maybe you don’t like football but you love boxing. Maybe you can’t stand cricket but you love going for a run. Maybe it isn’t rugby that grabs your interest but the thought of being able to run the 100 metres quicker than anyone else does.

Sport mirrors society in so many ways. Today’s generation just aren’t interested in sport and what it has to offer. Football has, in recent years seen a catastrophic decline in the number of participants. A 2015 study by the FA revealed that an astonishing 2360 grassroots football teams had folded in a 3 year period between 2012-2015. Alongside this unwelcoming statistic is perhaps an even more depressing one – approximately 180 thousand players aged 16 or over have dropped out the game since 2005 Astonishing. In 2014 the ECB revealed a worrying statistic that the number of recreational cricketers had shrunk from 908 thousand in 2013 to 844 thousand the following year. It was also stated that well over 5 percent of matches had to be cancelled due to teams not being able to field 11 players. Player retention in the 16-to-19-year-old age bracket is one of cricket’s, and sport in general’s, biggest problems. The ECB National Playing Survey in 2013 concluded that 40 per cent of young people who play more than 12 weeks a season were dropping out of cricket by the age of 19.

As i said sport mirrors society and today’s society seem more interested in their phones, Instagram and technology than participating in sport. I suspect the major increase in TV coverage of sport over the last decade or so hasn’t helped either. Any normal given week during the football season and there’s a live Premiership game at midday on a Saturday, then another in the evening. On Sunday you have at least 2, often 3 games on the TV. Monday night football is now another regular fixture, not forgetting the mid week European competitions as well as the plethora of lower league games being shown. I genuinely don’t think this is a good thing. It’s almost being rammed down our throats. It’s too easy for people to not bother playing sport and instead spend all week inside watching it on the TV.

I can think of numerous occasions where having an interest or being involved in sport has helped in some way, or made life more enjoyable. When i was doing my farming work in Australia and we had a ‘Sports Day’ for my birthday, it was possibly the most enjoyable birthday I’ve ever had. Every single backpacker got involved and helped create a more close-knit environment. Think about when you start a new job and get paired up with someone to shadow for the first few days. I don’t know about you but my first go to conversation is nearly always sport. When you meet your father in law or your partners cousin for for the first time, it’s always a bit easier if you can discuss how bad Arsenal’s defence are nowadays, or your thoughts on who will win the next Ryder Cup. Think about how the whole nation gets together when England are playing in the World Cup. Jubilant scenes up and down the country when we knocked Columbia out on penalties or swept Sweden aside 2 nil.

Sport’s Day on the farm in Australia, so much fun

I’ve had some of my best, most satisfying experiences playing and watching sport. My favourite moment still to this day, ever since being an Arsenal fan was when Tony Adams smashed home that half volley with his left foot against Everton at Highbury, before going on to be crowned league champions. Goosebumps just thinking about it! I’ve played in numerous football teams down the years, and even turned my hand to management in recent times. All memories I will treasure for the rest of my life.

I feel like sport is fast becoming an abandoned building block of society though. With all the hate, anger and disruption in the world it is good to have something that offers hope and inspiration. Something with no hidden agendas. We must not forget this. With so much effort and so much money spent on building faster railways, faster cars and faster computers, we seem to have cast sport aside, like an old toy in the bedroom. How do you bring it back from the shadows? I think everyone has a part to play. All the parents, all the teachers, all the TV stations and the government too. How about one less class on algebra and an hour instead on PE. How about one less trip to the game console shop, and one more trip to the park. How about Devaluing love Island and valuing the link between sport and health instead. You can see what I’m getting at.

Where will we be in 20 or 50 years time. Will people growing up still play sport, or will Instagram, Facebook and Social Media rule the world. Will kids at school want to make the football or the athletics team or will kids just want have the most followers on Twitter. No-one truly knows what the future holds, but a society that functions and operates effectively surely needs sport at it’s core.

Tony Adams moments after scoring that thunderbolt against Everton. Possibly my favourite memory growing up.