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Finton’s Frolic: The Evolution of footballers- From Past Rambunctiousness to Modern Reticence

By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)

What up pimps?

Welcome one and all once again to the self-proclaimed, undisputable and dare I say, underrated: Finton’s Frolic. In today’s instalment, I will be discussing the evolution of footballers over the years and moreover, their rapid transition from rambunctious to reticent.

Just yesterday, I recorded the 40th episode of The Arsenal Cannon Podcast with Alfie Culshaw, the chief editor of this site and my co-host of the audio show. We were joined by the Hale End graduate and now former gunner, Charlie Gilmour, who moved to Norwich city and then was loaned out to Telstar in the summer. Charlie was gracious enough to come onto our up and coming and very under the radar show. I, for one, had a blast, I’m sure Alfie did as well, and I sincerely hope Charlie did too.

While some elements of the interview were to be expected, such as some awkward silences, given the fact that we had never met the man prior to the three-way-call, one thing in particular did quite stand out to me; his reserved manner. Though you see said reservation on TV all the time with many players, it’s different to witness it first-hand. The players today know that anything they say can and will be held against them if they even slightly slip up and say something less than desirable.

While Charlie was quite open and candid, and both Alfie and I learned a great deal about him, it was also evident that there were some things that he could not and would not go into great detail about. When Alfie coyly asked about former manager Unai Emery’s communication, and if his blatant difficulties with the language had ever made it challenging to decipher what he wanted in training, Charlie smartly did nothing but heap praise on his former boss. He described how difficult it is to move to another country and learn a new language- from his own experience.

He then stated how he did not spend quite enough time with Emery to provide a completely definitive answer to Alfie's question. This talent of answering an inquiry whilst simultaneously not doing so is one of the many ways which exemplifies the modern player's reticence and how well they do to avoid criticism from the media and public, by being tactical in everything they do and say.

On the contrary, players from the past were far more careless and rambunctious. One player in particular that springs to mind Arsenal legend Ray Parlour. Back in the day, during his impressive career, players like Parlour would go to the pub after a win, and celebrate with the supporters, making a night they would not soon forget (or maybe not remember the next morning). Because of this, there was a tighter and closer bond between the players and supporters. Parlour in particular has an abundance of stories about experiences he has shared with Arsenal fans in various pubs and taverns around the globe. I would highly recommend giving those a look if you've not yet seen the videos where he tells these hilarious stories.

Unfortunately, players today cannot share the same affection with supporters. A flurry of reasons prevent love between fans and players from happening and it is truly one of the greatest tragedies in the sport’s history. If a player is spotted at a pub, celebrating with a couple of drinks with supporters, an onslaught would be inevitable.

First of all, the media would somehow find a way to get a hold of photographs and make the individual look poorly in some way or another. After that would come disciplinary measures taken by the club which the player plays for, for being “irresponsible” and not acting like the role model they are expected to act like at all times. Finally, would come scrutiny from the very fans who support the club which the player earns his living. Fan mediums would question the players maturity and commitment to his health and on field performances.

It’s somewhat sad that players nowadays are expected to be reticently diplomatic robots. While one can argue that they make so much money that professionalism should not be an issue, I would have to provide a caveat to that notion. Just because a person makes a lot of money, does not mean that he or she deserves to be objectified in the way which footballers are. They are expected to look, act and carry themselves in a certain way at all times and in my opinion that is morally wrong.

While it is upsetting that players can’t be humans anymore, I suppose I, myself, should take some accountability. As a person who is passionate about the field of journalism and aspires to be a highly regarded sports writer, I am the kind of guy that is helping to ruin the once publicly thrilling life of professional footballers. However, sharks far bigger than me dwell below. They do so, waiting for a hot scoop, to go even as far as completely ruining the reputation of an individual. They do so just for a story about someone who merely wants to run around and kick a ball because those stories sell.

And that is why talking to a currently player like Charlie Gilmour is a rarity and an opportunity that one must cherish. Players today can never be too careful, so I for one completely understand their reservations over coming onto shows such as mine and being so private with everything in their life.

That is all for today ladies and gentlemen. Remember to wash your hands, stay inside and go listen to episode 40 of The Arsenal Cannon Podcast. Charlie was a fucking awesome guest and do go show him some love through the avenue of social media. Until next week, I bid all of thee, the most sincere Toodloo…!

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