Charlie Hurley never had a badge to kiss.
He didn’t need one. We knew, where his heart lay.
Times were different then; back then in the 1960s, when I first set foot in Roker Park as a wide-eyed, eight-year-old and cheered that first goal (mine not his) from the incomparable Johnny Crossan.
Charlie, Johnny and the rest of that 63-64 team had plenty to celebrate: finally getting back to the First Division where everyone in football knew they belonged.
But they didn’t kiss anything, not even each other. Thankfully. The thought of Jimmy McNab kissing Len Ashurst brings a chill even after half a century.
Nowadays players can’t keep their lips to themselves. They kiss everything, including each others wives.
Our old friend Darren Bent was up there smooching with the best of them. A couple of seasons ago he couldn’t wait to slobber all over the badge when he scored a couple against his old Spurs mates.
He loves us, we thought. He really wants to be here.
But he isn’t the only one, not by a long, long way.
From Wayne Rooney, through John Terry up to our own “HasYaMoney” Gyan they all share one noticeable characteristic: greed.
Fans ask. How much money do they need? can they need? But it has gone way past need. It is something else.
A few years ago I covered hockey in Canada and would see players in the dressing room after practice.
Did they talk about the upcoming opponents? Or what happened in the last game?
Not at all. They talked about who had the latest contract and what they got. Bonus clauses for goals, assists, total points, games played. Whatever could be put on the table was on the table. And they’d snatch it off that table and into their ever-bulging bank accounts in a heartbeat.
Different sport. Same attitude. We want more. It’s the only score that matters.
There really is no loyalty left , except by the fans.
It’s sad but I think most fans can somewhat reluctantly accept that given the amount of money sloshing about in major league sports it was and is inevitable.
But please. Spare us the hypocrisy.
Spare us the players who kiss the badge when they’ve done something mildly unusual such as scoring a goal. Kissing it as though they are a legend-in-waiting when in reality all they are really waiting for is a call from their agent with the latest offer.
That’s what makes me want to vomit. And I don’t think I’m alone.
So players, if you must kiss something then kiss your wallet.
After all that’s where your heart lies.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)