Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Bobby Moore, Billy Wright, Bryan Robson, Alf Ramsay, Alan Ball, Jimmy Armfield.   Just a small selection of players who have captained England in the past 50 years.   There are a lot more, of course, and as a Southampton fan I will never forget the time when we had no less than five England captains in the same team - Ball, Keegan, Shilton, Mills and Watson.

But it`s a singular honour betstowed on a small number of players who have represented their country at the highest level.   Thinking back to the days of Wright, Moore, Armfield and others, I`m reminded of the fact that, certainly back then, to captain the team was more than just wearing an armband and tossing a coin.   The captaincy was for those who would not just lead the team on the field of play but would also represent the team and the nation in the eyes of those countries we might be playing against and thus to a wider audience.

There were, in short, responsibilities to discharge on behalf of the nation towards the wider world, so the captain needed to have a presence about him, a certain bearing and be ever mindful not just of the honour he had been given but also the responsibilities that went with it.

More recently, those qualities have been conspicuous by their absence, none more so than in the `captaincy` of John Terry.   Now, Mr. Terry seems to have run up a fairly lengthy charge sheet which includes episodes such as allegedly charging £10,000 for facilitating tours of Chelsea`s training ground and causing considerable disquiet over his involvement with Wayne Bridge`s erstwhile paramour.   I won`t go into the latest controversy regarding the alleged issue of racism concerning Anton Ferdinand as the jury is currently out.

But even putting these issues to one side, it`s still difficult to recognise in John Terry  the necessary presence, the respectful bearing and the selfless dignity of his  more distinguished forebears so that he might discharge the responsibilities of captain of his country in a way that will garner respect amongst the football audience here and further afield.  

Which is a pity, for however practiced Mr. Terry might be in the dark arts of central defending, he along with the Football Association and the expensive Signor Capello need to be reminded that there`s so much more to being a captain than wearing an armband and calling heads or tails. 

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