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David Holdsworth: The Olympics showed us how far football has lost its way...

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: August 24, 2012

Lincoln City manager David Holdsworth

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Many column inches have been written in recent days deriding footballers and celebrating the conduct shown by our Olympic stars and I have read it all with a lot of interest.

I have a lot admiration for how Great Britain's team performed in the Olympic Games and they are all a real credit to the sports they play. They have been dedicated, trained hard and performed when it mattered and all for the love of the sport – there were no win bonuses for them.

On the other side of it footballers have lost their way. Blame it on the media, blame it on the money, but in simple terms it is just a complete lack of respect and breakdown of discipline that has brought about this situation.

I've noticed it over the last few years and how much of a stark contrast life at a club is compared to when I was a trainee. When I was learning how to play the game at Watford I was also being taught the importance of a code of conduct – how to approach the world as a footballer.

Key to all of this was the discipline that was impressed on me by Graham Taylor. He was a great person to work under and you knew from him what was right and what was wrong. It was the same during my time at Sheffield United. Howard Kendall treated you with discipline and respect, it did not matter if you were in the reserves or the top earner, you were all treated the same. It made you aware of how to act and treat others.

In my time with United we did go out, we did celebrate success, but we did so at the right time. I have also enjoyed some frolics with the Wimbledon boys, but you stuck together and looked out for each other. These days footballers don't do that and they seem to be oblivious to how their actions are seen. Mr Joe Public is very fed up with seeing footballers live without boundaries and get away with it.

It is the getting away with it part that has been the biggest problem. If players cannot be self-disciplined then the managers and the authorities need to act. The Football Association needs to get tough and I felt they were right in the punishment they delivered to Joey Barton at the end of last season. Managers need to be tougher though. I think that football is suffering because some of these players are not being responsible.

Mario Balotelli is a case in point. You look at his antics and you wonder how much more could come from him if he was more disciplined.

Discipline is a big thing to me in and outside of football.

When I arrived at Lincoln I have made it clear how shocked I was with the attitude of some of the players. It did not help us on the pitch or the club's reputation off it. Now there is a lot more respect.

On the other side of it, football is not helped by some of the actions of those who follow it.

Supporters are understandably passionate, but it is upsetting when that passion goes in the wrong direction. From swearing and abusive language on the terraces to some very hateful facebook pages, the respect in the game is not there like it was. It needs to be addressed, but it is down to people in authority.

The managers, the Professional Footballers' Association, the FA and even parents with young children making their first steps in football, they must start drilling that respect back.

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  • eatmygoal  |  August 31 2012, 4:52PM

    Why are the GB team being branded a disgrace? I saw them progress from the group as winners, and then narrowly went out on penalties. Not bad for a group of players who have never played together before and won't be doing ever again. Even more so as it was before most teams have got into the spirit of things with pre season training. I agree, it should not be in the Olympics along with tennis. I agree fully Nigel on the point about Olympians as bad as footballers. Usain Bolt was pictured with 3 Swedish Handball players on his own twitter account late at night and people laugh it off. This was before his 200m final and the relay final. Had Rooney done this the papers would have run out of ink printing all their righteous indignation. It is the same with other Sports, Fredalo at the cricket world cup is seen is seen as something funny, if Terry had done it in South Africa there would be effergies burning on the high street. LOCOG had something like 200,000 condoms provided in the Athletes village, I am assuming they were not all to be used as make shift water balloons! Perhaps Phelps can have a go at blowing one up, assuming he is not caught on camera smoking something he shouldn't again... Good call on the spitting of Rupp as well, Farah nearly rolled in it! Not really sure that footballers spit to disgust people, it is more a process of not wanting to swallow excess spittle. Cyclists are too tired to do this and I recall Armstrong with spittle dried across his face on numerous time trials in the Tour De France. He of course now is sadly shamed unlike any of the team GB footballers. Also comparing cyclists and footballers excersions is silly. As equally ridiculous, with a total ignorance to sport science, would be me saying footballers sprint something like 100 times in 90 minutes yet Bolt eases down at the end of each of his races to preserve his energy and he only does around 3 a day.

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  • nigelsparky  |  August 31 2012, 3:19PM

    Nodroggy to compare the physical exertion required to participate at the highest levels in two completely different sports is stupid. Every sportsman/sportswoman's training regime will be designed for their specific sport. Football is all about sudden bursts, whilst cycling is, in a lot of cases, about endurance, dependant on which cycling event you are competing in of course. With regards to the spitting, I too cannot stand it either, however it is not just confined to footballers is it, the guy who came second behind Mo Farrah, I seem to recall him spitting something out when he came across the finish line, and that is just one example that springs to mind. People like yourself and Oldlincolnia, tend to pick on football, purely because it is on our TV screens, far more frequently than athletics etc. thus being more popular with the masses, so you tend to see more of the bad side of football. Yes football has it's faults, but please put away those rose coloured spectacles where other sports are concerned.

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  • OldLincolnia  |  August 31 2012, 12:27PM

    Well said Nodroggy, we no longer accept their disgusting behaviour. Football didn't need the massively successful London Olympics to highlight its shortcomings, but now the great paralympics are adding to their torture every day. Today the description "the rotting remains of the beautiful game" describes a sea change in how the public now see a once great sport that is slowly being given less and less coverage.

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  • Nodroggy  |  August 30 2012, 7:45PM

    "our players were mentally and physically drained from chasing shadows for 120 minutes." This remark from Nigelsparky does not cut much ice when compared to cyclists travelling along at speeds that I could only hope to match on steep downhills. Let alone to be able to keep it up for often over 100 miles daily for three weeks, with only the occasional rest day. Up hill and down dale. By comparison with cyclists, footballers are total wimps. Do cyclists jump off their bikes at the end of each day and slide across the grass on their knees, wave shirts in the air, cuddle all and sundry, spit every few yards, etc? No! Is there a sign at the ground of every televised match saying, You are on camera now, time for a spit!? It seems that almost every time there is a close-up of a footballer, he feels the need to spit. I try to turn away from the screen when a close-up of a footballer is shown as he will probably let go of a green-un. I think it is time for refs to start issuing a few yellow cards for over-celebration, it would soon put a stop to it. There, rant over!

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  • nigelsparky  |  August 29 2012, 3:38PM

    Franky68 "The Olympics football in future years should be represented by a combined Universities team.After the debacle of our recent GB team, which was a disgrace, and as for the recent Euro's well what is going on, why in the second half of the game with Italy did Hodgson go defensive we had the beating of them in the first half, then he changes it . WHY? What is it about english managers, just can't weigh it up." Firstly team GB football team which you describe as a debacle and a disgrace, may I ask why have you formed that opinion? A tad over the top wouldn't you say? As for the England /Italy game, were you watching the same game as me?, at what stage did we have the beating of them, as I recall it, the game I was watching, we were totally outplayed and over run in midfield, hence why we couldn't take penalties at the end, as our players were mentally and physically drained from chasing shadows for 120 minutes.

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  • nigelsparky  |  August 29 2012, 2:13PM

    Old Linconia whilst I know where you are coming from, and I too cannot stand all the diving around that goes on in football, however I'll just remind you again about Olympians as you seem to ignore the facts, when singing their praises. Like cyclists crashing bikes deliberately to get the race restarted after a bad start , badminton players deliberately trying to lose a game, athletes smashing up kebab shop's in the small hours whilst being under the influence, taking performance enhancing drugs in pursuit of their absolute desire to win, the way the sprinters of both sexes pulling childish faces and poses, swaggering around before and after they have given their all for the full 10 or 11 seconds, putting pressure on judges, like we saw in the gymnastics and boxing, by their coaches and officials surrounding them, in order to change a result that has gone against them, and succeeding too in some cases, yes you never see anything like that in the Olympics do you!"

  • OldLincolnia  |  August 27 2012, 4:00PM

    Think DH has been misread. It was not just a comparison with GB Footballers, it was a comparison of attitudes and behaviour compared with Olympic competitors in general. There is a wave of disgust in UK today about the way footballers in general behave, their ludicrous pay, their foul language, disgraceful lack of decent behaviour, vile tweeting, poor discipline and yet despite all the warnings we still saw players blatantly cheating on Match of the Day showing off childish remarks on t-shirts...I could go on and on. People are saying enough is enough, and it will only get worse with the Paralympics due this week. Football is on trial.

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  • franky68  |  August 25 2012, 10:26AM

    The Olympics football in future years should be represented by a combined Universities team.After the debacle of our recent GB team, which was a disgrace, and as for the recent Euro's well what is going on, why in the second half of the game with Italy did Hodgson go defensive we had the beating of them in the first half, then he changes it . WHY? What is it about english managers, just can't weigh it up.

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  • Npton_Imp  |  August 25 2012, 9:19AM

    I think footballers have been wrongly labelled here. For an athelete, rower, swimmer, shooter, fencer, etc etc they have waited and worked hard for 4 years for this one single goal. Their big moment to peak and perform at their best. Is/Was the olympics such a big event in a footallers career? - Quite simply the answer is no. And I bet there are plenty of footballers who train hard every day all year long in all the leagues. The real answer is that football, professional anyway, should not be in the games at all.

  • franky68  |  August 24 2012, 1:24PM

    Yes dh I agree with you and I think the GB footballers were terrible, earning so much money, that they could'nt even bothered to run for a ball 2yds away to keep it in giving the ball away to easily, whether it only be for a throw-in or what ever else it may have been. I only watched the 1st game and had seen enough. Yes DH all the other Olimpians showed up GB footballers.A sheer disgrace.

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