‘The boys were really up for it today’ is one of my permanent contenders for the most annoying post-match phrase used by players and managers because it leads to only one conclusion – that ‘the boys’ are not always ‘up for it’ and sometimes players take the pitch expecting to win without putting in the required level of physical and mental application.
It’s an attitude which is just not acceptable. The First Division is a league where having better players is not enough; skill superiority must be allied to industry and passion for ninety minutes every week. That’s how football matches are won; that’s how championships are won; that’s how a club’s core support can be increased. St. Mirren’s sojourn in the Scottish Premier League lasted just one season; but when they returned to the First Division last August they seemed to have forgotten that there’s no such thing as a stroll, mentally or physically, in the Scottish Football League’s top division.
On the other hand, Clyde’s promotion to the First Division two seasons ago owed much to team spirit and industry and that continues to be the approach. Broadwood patrons like watching First Division football but there’s an appreciation that the status has to be earned every year; the other clubs aren’t just there to make up the numbers.
There is another responsibility on Clyde’s players and management. Clyde this week confirmed that season ticket sales had already broken through the 250 barrier and more attractive pay-at-the gate admission prices will next season augment the revitalised season ticket package. Of course it’s all aimed at getting more people to support Clyde. Former supporters are being encouraged to return to the fold whilst new supporters are being enticed to Broadwood for the first time but the team must be worthy of this new and increased support. The entertainment level cannot always be guaranteed but the effort should never fall below 100%.
In recent weeks some clubs have discovered what Clyde have known for years; that they simply must live within their budget or they will quickly cease to exist. For Scotland’s thirty-nine non-Old Firm clubs, speculating to accumulate is no longer an option. For all of them, the name of the game is slow, steady growth by investing not only in young players but also in the young fans of tomorrow. It requires an effort by everyone in football; being ‘up for it’ is now the only option.