The Ballad Of The Soccer Pyramid

Written by Ian Thomson

Paul Caddis. Add the Birmingham City full-back to those that have supplied moments of sheer anguish, exhilaration, desperation and jubilation that define the essence of the beautiful game. Blues trailing 2-1 in stoppage time. Going down with the Glovers. Hoist one in for big Zigic. 6-foot-8. He’s there. Must be! Off the line by Ream. The American. He gets it now. Reality. CADDIS ON THE REBOUND. 2-2. We are staying up, say we are staying up. Goal difference. Doncaster drowns. Teary goodbyes.

David Pleat. Beige suit. Galloping across Maine Road’s turf. City are down. The Kippax stunned. They’ll have their moments. Back from the dead at Wembley. Trailing Tony’s Gillingham by two. One minute left. Dickov. Proper hero. This is how it feels. Denis Law. The King. Backheel at Old Trafford. No elation there at all. I never put them down. Cloughie’s Derby are champions. Three years after winning the Second. Old Big Head!

Forest fall. They’ll be back too. With Clough. Promoted in 77. Champions in 78. Big Euro jug in 79. Tricky Trev. Keep it in 80. Relegated in first EPL season. Clough’s last. Protégé O’Neill takes Wycombe to Football League. Then third tier. Leicester calls. Takes them to the Prem. Everton stay up. Dodgy keeper. Man City drops again. Coventry breathes. Big Ron. Experienced manager beats silly machines. Wigan win fourth tier on goals scored. Ahead of Fulham. Both will surge.

What about Jimmy Glass? Carlisle’s on-loan goalkeeper. 71 years in the Football League on the line. We must beat Plymouth! Scarborough’s fans are celebrating. We are staying up. Say we are staying up. Four added minutes are almost done. Corner kick on the right. Last chance. Jimmy Glass. Get up there. You might as well for heaven’s sake. Jimmy Glass. JIMMY FECKIN’ GLASS!!!

Up north. Dundee United. End the 1950s in 35th overall. 37 teams. Beneath Stranraer. They’ll soon beat Barca home and away. Twice. Not before Dundee win the league. Relegating St. Johnstone on the final day. On goal average. The Dees suffer too. Level with Aberdeen and United. Inferior goal difference. St. Mirren rise under Fergie. Granite City beckons. New Firm. Upstarts fade. Dons look doomed. Never relegated. Always a first time. It’s a goal. Duncan Shearer. Farewell Arabs.

Totonero. Milan punished. And Lazio. Berlusconi pounces. The Dutch are coming. And Sacchi. Best team ever? Foggia appears. Zemanlandia. 58 scored. 58 conceded. Signori. Baiano. Rambaudi. Shalimov. Sparkling. Trouble in Florence. Batigol stays. He’d play for this club in Serie C. Parma become a big cheese. Napoli sinks. Two wins in 34. Salernitana brings Gattuso to battle. They go under. He moves on. Chievo supplants Verona. Calciopoli. Juve this time. Serie B. Inter’s days in the sun. Sassuolo fights on.

Spain. Malaga. Getafe. Levante. Mallorca. La Coruna from champs to the Segunda in 11 years. Villarreal’s Yellow Submarine. Germany. Kaiserslautern pulls a Forest with Otto Rehhagel. Bundesliga winners after promotion. Hamburg. The Dinosaur. Ever present. Finally vanquished. Wolfsburg assembles. Driven to succeed. Hoffenheim. Villagers mixing with city slickers.  Elsewhere, Auxerre punches above weight. Guy Roux. Genius. River Plate swept away temporarily. The fire rages on. Teams rise. Teams fall. The soul of the sport endures.

Not here. Not in the U.S. of A. Closed shop. Money talks. Pay To Play >>> Earn Your Way. “What’s so great about promotion and relegation?” the suits say. Expansion fees fuel change. Success punished. Failure tolerated. Talent pool drained dry. Why? Enrichment of the few. Not the fans. Marketers. Salesmen. Owners. Herbalife. Soccer is NOT business. Where’s the excitement? The passion? That true essence? The People’s Game?

Sorry America. Keep looking elsewhere.


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Comments: 1

  1. Adam says:

    It is nice to wax poetic, soccer excels as an avenue for art, however, it is pretty clear from the board room to the stands, soccer is a business.