Now is not the time for recrimination nor retribution. We will save that for another day. Now is a time for realising what you have got, finding what it is you want to fight for and standing up for it. Those of you that will wear the shirt on Saturday should remember, it is only on loan. It does not belong to you, to the manager or to the chairman. The shirt belongs to the club, to the fans, to the family. It belongs to those faceless few.
When you take the field you are not playing for yourselves, for the manager or for the chairman. You are playing for the shirt, for those faceless few looking on from the stands, willing you on, hoping for success. Those few were here before you, before the manager and before the chairman. Those few have travelled far and wide, have shovelled snow and put their hands in their pockets to save their club.
Those few will be here after you exercise your get out clauses, after the manager has found his big club and after the chairman has departed. They will continue their travels and are prepared to shovel snow again, they wait for the day where they may again be asked to put their hands in their pockets to save their club, they wait and they will.
They will do that because, above all, they love their club. They do not expect you to share their love. But they also have pride, pride in their club and pride in their shirt. That they do expect you to share. They want you to succeed, to keep their hold on this poisoned chalice, but they care more that you do well by them.
The question they ask you is how you, the players about to pull on their shirt, for their club, want the faceless few to remember you? Here you have a choice. You can be remembered as the hopeless fools who betrayed the pride of those few and cast their love on the rocks. Or you can be remembered as the brave men who took to the field and proved that their pride and their love is justified.
They are a fickle few, but can also be forgiving. Show that you care and you may be remembered fondly, regardless of your achievements. Hide your faces, sneak away and the memories will be foul. Will you make your choice? Will you stand up to the weight of their expectations?
They only ask you to show your pride, your pride in the shirt, in the club, in their love. Most of all they ask you to show pride in yourself, to stand up and be counted, to do things right.
Is that much to ask? Is it too hard a choice? Should you make it? Will you make it? Only you can answer that, only you can prove yourselves. The decision is yours, their future in your hands. Will you cast it aside as you have so many times before or hold it up before you and ask “Am I worthy?”.
The above article has been taken from the notapatchon archives and was originally the match preview for the Middlesbrough game on 5th May 2007, we all know what followed.
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