by Alex Dimond
It’s very rare these days that I read a football article that really provokes my ire.
Sure, I often read articles or stories that I disagree with — but hardly ever to the extent I feel compelled to respond. However, Paul Gardner, writing in this month’s World Soccer magazine, has managed to achieve that particular feat.
In his article (which, if I could find it online, I would link to — but I can’t so I won’t), Gardner expresses his disgust at David Beckham’s cameo appearances for England, describing it as a “degrading hunt” for caps.
Gardner cites the example of Bobby Moore — whose record of 108 international caps Beckham is now only one shy of — as a player whose memory is somehow tarnished every time Beckham appears on the pitch for the final few minutes of an England match.
“I don’t recall Wright, or Moore, or Bobby Charlton going through this awful, degrading business of virtually begging to be picked for England,” Gardner writes.
“Beckham’s quest for England appearances seems to have taken possession of the man to the exclusion of a number of other things which ought to be important to him. His dignity, for a start.”
Now, of course I would not want to deny Gardner his right to an opinion — he is free to think as he pleases. But that doesn’t mean he should labour under the misapprehension that he speaks for the masses.
Gardner is symptomatic of the rather ancient scribes that litter World Soccer’s pages. Judging by his picture (which, if he is following common journalistic practice, was taken at least 15 years ago), Gardner was born in the time of Bobby Moore, and followed the former West Ham and England captain through his many career highlights.
Brought up to appreciate Moore’s no-nonsense approach, Beckham’s media circus is no doubt anathema to Gardner’s sensibilities.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean his opinion is right.