Following on from Jon Punt's look at whether a player's social media antics make him more or less popular, and thus afforded more patience, among the City faithful, Lorraine Taylor makes her AlongComeNorwich debut and tells us that she likes her players to be humans, rather than greedy, media-trained robots.
By Lorraine Taylor
Listening to the recent interview with Timm Klose, I was pleased to hear that, in a time when so many footballers choose where they play and how much they can earn, there are still some who play for a club where they feel valued. A club that they care for and where they are cared for. It’s great to hear that Timm feels this was about Norwich, that he is very settled in Norfolk and he is enjoying the many beautiful coastal sights the county has to offer.
This commitment to the club, along with Ivo Pinto’s obvious passion and his #PitchWarYellowArmy on Twitter is why, in just a few short months, both Timm and Ivo have become firm favourites at Carrow Road.
If there was one thing that Norwich fans wished for during the summer, (apart from a new striker and a strengthened defence) it was to keep the likes of Klose and Pinto to help our campaign to bounce straight back up to the Premier League. The fact that we managed it was then widely forgotten in a now typical meltdown.
Compare this outpouring of affection for both Klose and Pinto on social media to the many moans and groans about Steven Naismith. Someone who is maybe perceived to not want to play for the club and who was looking to leave us during the transfer window.
Unfortunately there are players who, once their team is relegated, seem to feel that can’t possibly play for a lower league team. This is what I dislike about the modern game, that there are some players willing to sit on the bench week in week out just to say that they ‘play’ for a ‘big’ team.
Money does talk in football these days, but unfortunately Norwich cannot compete with the sometimes ridiculous transfer fees and wages that even average players demand. That’s why it is unusual in this day and age that players like Timm Klose choose to stay at a club even though, according to his international coach, to do so would be against his best interests.
Timm Klose reminds me of players who we fondly remember from our past. Those that wanted to play for Norwich because they liked being here and liked living in Norfolk. You only need to look how many past players have made their home in Norfolk after their footballing careers have ended.
Gone are the days when lads became professional footballers because all they wanted to do was play for their local team. Today, young lads want to be the next Messi, Ronaldo or Rooney. They want to earn the big bucks, and play for the biggest teams. A more stark example you won’t find than when Paul Pogba said on being unveiled (again) at Old Trafford that his aim was to win the Balloon D’Or, without a mention of team success.
It’s not that long ago when players finished playing they had to go out and get a job. Today, those that have played at the top of the game have earned so much money that they will probably never have to work post-retirement. Even those who played in the World Cup final as little as 50 years ago found that they had to find a way of earning extra income once their playing days were over. Martin Peters went into insurance for example.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s footballers often found ways of earning extra money to supplement their wages. Some players took on coaching jobs with local teams. This is where my Dad met Joe Mullett. A full back in Norwich’s 1962 League Cup winning team, Joe took on coaching duties at Shipdham Football Club for a while, and as Dad was living in Norwich at the time, Joe would pick him up and drive him to training each week.
After nearly 10 years and 263 games at Norwich, in 1968 Joe left the club and ended his career playing non-league football for Kings’ Lynn, Lowestoft and finally Gt Yarmouth. He was a man who played football because he loved the game, not for what he could earn.
Even players who finished their careers in the 80’s and 90’s still had to find work once their playing days were over. Alun Taylor, FA Cup winner with West Ham United and former Norwich City striker, has made his home in Norfolk post-football. He can be seen on occasions working as a pall-bearer for a local firm of undertakers. I will admit that I was rather star-struck when he was a pall-bearer at my Aunt’s funeral earlier in the year, although he wasn’t a Norwich player for long, he was one of my favourites growing up.
One of my all-time favourite players and all-round nice guy, Robert Fleck, has none of the airs and graces that modern players often have, or are perceived to have, even though he has played for both Rangers and Chelsea as well as being a Norwich legend. Since leaving football he has changed career and has become teaching assistant at a school for children with complex needs. Those that meet him for the first time now would never guess that he was once a professional footballer.
Rob Newman became a tailor. Imagine.
We are lucky at Norwich. We have had a succession of players over the years who have played with the commitment and passion for the club and long may it continue. Maybe greed hasn’t taken over football in the way I had thought, and that there are many players out there like Hoolahan, Howson, Klose and Pinto who are happy to commit to Norwich even though other clubs would love to sign them.
I am sure it has a lot to do with the type of club we are, a small club with big ambition and a bunch of fans who are second to none. Whatever it is, it’s great to see that there are still some old style players with old style values still willing to play for the love of the game.