Mike Pejic: Big boys must act to save our game



“Let’s not beat about the bush here, the very tradition and fabric of football in this country is under threat.

Centuries of history are under attack if this current crisis continues for a significant period of time.

So there’s question, for me, about the rich Premier League clubs putting their hands in their pockets. It’s their duty.

They’ve never had it so good for so many years,but now it’s time to show they aren’t as selfish as many think and that they do care about the entire game in this country.

Football League and non-league clubs will go out of business without their help, so I agree Lou Macari’s column earlier this week.

He said Premier League clubs should only take what the bottom club gets in revenue, then the difference is collected and distributed fairly to those who most need it.

The English game has gone through two world wars and come out the other side, so we can’t fail our clubs now.

But of course, the Premier League clubs themselves could be faced with a short fall if the current season isn’t completed because the broadcasters might want a large slice of their money back.

So completing this season has to be the priority, we just don’t know when.

Playing behind closed doors would mean games could start sooner, but I have my reservations here.

Not just because it deprives supporters, but because many people would still be mixing on a match day and then returning to their families.

There is no easy solution and we just have to remain flexible as time goes on and we learn more about this pandemic and its longevity.

In the meantime, players are mainly training at home on their own it seems.

That’s a lot easier these days because there is the technology to monitor their hearts and what have you.

If I was still playing I’d be looking to run up the nearest hill, or jump into my car to go and find one.

Training was, and still is, aimed at your three body systems: endurance/ speed and endurance/ speed.

All three were catered for when we used to run up and down Trentham Hills.

We had experienced and successful runners like Derek Ibbotson and Roy Fowler doing the drills in those days.

I will always be indebted to Roy, in particular, because he was the one who got me fit for the 1972 League Cup final after digging his fingers so deep into my damaged ligaments that he got all the muck out of them to get me playing again.

Those hills soon exposed who was good at what. 

Lads like Terry Conroy, Jackie Marsh and Sean Haslegrave could run all day and loved the endurance stuff.

But lads like myself and Jimmy Greenhoff were more at home with the shorter, sharper stuff.

And then there was big Alan Bloor whose body wasn’t really suited to any of that – and he didn’t waste time letting us know either.

There’s no hill running today, of course, because sports science has taken over.

We’d be into the so-called Red Zone all the time and pushing our bodies too much, exposing us to the risk of injury.

Nowadays they have the technology to prevent that and I have no objection to it.

I did find it difficult to accept initially when I was youth coach at Ipswich Town because it interfered with how I did things in training.

But you have to be open-minded and move with the times, otherwise you get left behind, so even I adapted to the change.”





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