Today is the end of the season for Burton. A season that started so promisingly is ending with relegation. It left me thinking about the whole experience and how it is like being in love.
Male readers may think that this is a typical view from a woman, it is after all still a very sexist sport. But hey fellas, how many women would blow the price of a new kitchen on going on a Lions Tour? or a Dolce and Gabbana handbag on a game at the 2007 World Cup? (having said that, how many of you men, dare to spend the same, without asking permission from your wife?)
With relegation, there will be the inevitable discussion about whether its because we don't pay players, and half the League do, and if we are to progress in this division next time, then we should factor this in. This season I reckon I've spent about £500 on following Burton home, and until my friend's son got injured away as well. And that doesn't factor in travel costs, as I had lifts with them. I don't really spend money behind the bar any more (but I certainly spend a lot less). I've bought sweatshirts, replica shirts, commemorative boot bags, programmes, not to mention the dreaded raffle tickets - all £40 worth. Guys - how was I supposed to sell them? My friends at the rugby club were all buying their own tickets, and my work mates are all losing their jobs? So I think that qualifies me to comment on paying players at this level.
Courting a lady costs. How many of your mates have you seen spend money chasing their ultimate woman? taking her to expensive restaurants, flowers, wine, chocolates in the home that they will either get their legover, or it develop into a proper relationship? How often to they end up heart broken, or worse still looking like a fool, when the woman falls for someone with more money? flasher car, bigger career? When they compare you to the guy who took them to see Take That, shopping in the Mailbox, had his own company, do you feel inadequate that you can't give them the same? Meanwhile the woman who would suit them far better is the one they've known all along, perhaps is a mate's sister, or one they went to school with?
Rugby players at this level have increasingly become like the expensive woman. 'I'll play for you but I want expenses, my kit and beer free, a job etc. Such and such club will give me all this and a car.' What do you think happens lads? Yep, someone comes along with a better offer and off they go. Meanwhile the lad that came through the ranks from the mini junior section that has fallen deeply in love with the club, remains ignored. He can't be as good can he? he's a Burton boy and come through the ranks.
We won the League the season before at a canter. Mostly with young players coming through the ranks. Ones who don't need paying. They love the shirt. They love their friends. They are DRS. Their dads played years ago. For nothing. This year new players have been introduced from outside the club. They may yet buy into the culture. I hope so. A good example was the fly half that was going to save the season. In his one game for the club, did he look better than the lad who started playing for the club at 6? or the lad that has played for the club for 6 years. If he did then I really don't know my rugby and I should have perhaps bought that new kitchen instead.
I look at my fellow committee members. Some have been there years. Most at some point have played for the club, and have lads that are playing for the club. Its in their blood. Like a marriage I don't have to agree with them all the time. I can criticise because I love them and Burton and vice versa. Some of them are that soft bloke who spends money on flowers, chocolates to reciprocate the love that has developed.
What do I want to see my money spent on? Local lads representing their club, their families and their town at whatever level they are capable of. Newcomers need to buy into this, not see us as a wallet to empty, until the next biger wallet comes along. Like a wife, I push them to achieve more for the good of the club. Leave for ambition, to play at a higher level, not for money. One day I hope to see that white shirt of Burton replaced with a white shirt of England.
Forget You - CeeLo Green. The summer hit of last year. To those lads who will leave this year for money, this was written for you.