playing for the love of the game
I was reading about Neil Redfearn today, he makes his 1,000th competitive appearance tomorrow playing for his 14th club, Bradford Park Avenue
in the FA Trophy tie at home to Solihull Borough. Redfearn, who is probably only paid his expenses at the Northern Premier Div 1 side is 41 years old and made his debut for Bolton in 1982, the season they got relegated from the old Division 2 to 3.
Charlton paid a £1m for Redfearn after we won the play-off final and I personally thought he was disappointing in his season with us, although he counts his time at Charlton as one of his career highlights. (more
What is refreshing though in these days of multi-million pound 20-something footballers is that he continued playing down the leagues and "wanted to give something back."
Redfearn missed the real gravy train but still made enough to be able to afford to play for a pittence at 41, and not have to get a milk round or something after he stopped playing, like the majority of players from the 70's and 80's."If you love the game, you love the game, and as long as I'm fit enough and there's someone to have me, I'll turn out."
Equally heartening was Paul Ince's choice to join bottom of the football league Macclesfield as their manager. "This is the best place to learn. I don't like publicity, being in the limelight. I like to knuckle down and get on with my job. I'll make mistakes, I'm bound to, but I'll write them down and I'll learn from them. I just didn't want to walk away from football without knowing what it meant to be a manager, or even wondering what it was like to be sacked. I'm enjoying it - there's a thrill to being in charge."
Starting at the bottom certainly didn't do Paul Jewell, Harry Redknapp, Martin O'Neill, Alex Ferguson or Curbs any harm. Whereas others such as Bryan Robson' Glenn Hoddle and maybe Stuart Pearce to a degree have learnt that being born with a silver footballing spoon in your mouth is not always easy when it comes to coaching and managing players.
With the talk here in the US about David Beckham maybe joining LA Galaxy as early as next year
, it will be interesting over the next few seasons how many of the Sky TV generation of footballers continue their careers down the footballing ladder. I can't remember many top stars in recent years who have continued playing for "the love of the game",
as Neil Redfearn puts it.
Chris Waddle played for Burnley, Torquay and Worksop Town. Gazza, Ray Wilkins and Peter Shilton all carried on playing long after their heyday and Peter Beagrie is still knocking them in for Grimsby after making his debut 23 years ago for Middlesbrough.
One player that can be added to that list is Rob Lee or Robert Lee as Curbs and therefore Addicks' fans always called him. I saw him in the summer and he has finally hung up his boots at the age of 40 after leaving Wycombe Wanderers. The money Rob has earnt from the game meant that he could stick two fingers up at the club after the way they treated his mate John Gorman. When I asked what he was doing, he replied simply that after playing the game almost every day since he was 10, he is going to have a well earned rest.