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The Ben Smith column: The summer of frustration

Football is a funny game full of contradictions and hypocrisy, although the irony seems to be lost on a lot of the main protagonists. I have always been aware of this but it has really hit home during this summer.

I decided at the end of the season that it was the right time for me to move away from the full time game and move onto a new career.

I realised that effectively I would be like a 18-year-old starting at the bottom of the ladder.

I am comfortable with this as although I have plenty of transferrable life skills, I will have very little direct knowledge of my new career.

The plan has always been to supplement my lower wages in my new career with earnings from playing part-time football.

What I didn't realise was how hard it was going to be to find a part-time club who are willing to pay what I believe I am worth.


I find it strange that some people who work within football don't give players the same respect that they believe they are due.

I have read in the press and personally listened to managers moaning about the fact that a player has not returned their calls and then turned up at another club.

Yet they think it is fine to show interest in a player and then subsequently change their mind but don't have the decency to speak to the player or at least send a text message.

Does it sound like I am talking from personal experience? That's because I am. I refuse to drop my own personal standards and will always ring a manager, whether I am going to sign for him or not if he has shown any interest.

Although not everyone appreciates this. When I was at Weymouth, a chief executive from a now Championship club put the phone down on me when I said I'd decided to sign for someone else.

These people might not need me now but I will remember who they are and if I ever become a manager they won't be getting any favours from me.

Hypocrisy at Portsmouth 

I also find the current situation at Portsmouth an example of this hypocrisy. How many times do we hear players get criticised for not honouring their contract?

Yet when players like Tal Ben Haim and Liam Lawrence have the 'audacity' to honour their contract and do their job they get castigated from all angles.

Granted, they may not have been a roaring success at their club but nobody put a gun to the clubs head making them offer the contracts they did.

If you were in a job that paid very well it is very unlikely that you would voluntarily leave it knowing that you have no chance of earning anything near that wage anywhere else.

I know there is a chance that, if the club goes into liquidation, the players will get nothing. But no one except the administrator knows how dire the situation is and it is very unlikely that he is going to be totally honest about the situation. Incidentally, I doubt he is working there for free.

The FA are far from blameless in this situation. It is reported that some of the players at Portsmouth were earning over a million pounds a year.

Who allowed these contracts to be lodged? Surely the FA must have the power to veto excessive contracts for clubs that have just come out of administration.


I wonder what all of those non football creditors who got very little of their money back made of it.

The people who really matter, the fans, are the one's that really suffer but unfortunately the owners of these clubs, that are financially mismanaged, couldn't care less about them.

Going back to my personal situation, it seems strange that 18 months ago I was playing in the 5th round of the FA Cup against Manchester United and now I am struggling to find anyone to employ me.

I have found the last month or so especially frustrating, knowing everyone is back in training but I have decided that I won't just sign for someone for the sake of it.

I need to join a team where I will enjoy my football and which fits in to my new career. If that club doesn't come along, then I will wait or if need be, hang my boots up.

It could become more productive for me to really throw myself into the coaching side of things as that is where my future lies.

However, I don't coach because I want to be a coach, I coach because I want to be involved in football when I can no longer play and I still feel like. I have plenty to offer on the playing side, even if currently not many other people agree!

If you want to discuss the column or anything else please follow me on Twitter @bsmudger7

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