Sir Stanley Matthews earned £14 per week at the height of his career.

During the summer months his weekly wage dropped to £12.

To supplement his income by £2 the Wizard of the Wing performed ball skills twice-nightly at the Central Pier  theatre in Blackpool.

His friend, comedian Charlie Chester gave him the gig.

Similarly, when Sir Tom Finney finished morning training at Preston North End he would don his overalls and ply his trade as a plumber for the rest of the day.

When Jimmy Armfield’s career was coming to an end the former England captain would do the rounds of Sunday morning football around the parks and playing fields of Blackpool.

He could be found gathering scores and writing reports in preparation for a future job in journalism.

How times have changed!

Today you may find a youngster with a Premier League club who has banked a million but is yet to make his first team debut.

At the tender age of 21 many players have already established a financial safety net.

This begs the questions. Where is the motivation to improve? Where is the hunger to succeed? Where is the need to work?

Footballers needed a second job right up to the 1980s. Like everyone else they had to make ends meet.

Nowadays  Premier League players are paid between £50,000 – £300,000 per week.

That amount could take the working man or woman 10 years or more to earn.

That’s why a lot of supporters have turned to lower league and non-league football.

The Premiership and even the Championship is too ‘celebrity’,  too far away from reality.

The working man can associate more with lower league and semi-professional football.

Managers like Danny  and Nicky Cowley of Lincoln City send their charges out into factories and workplaces to see and talk to their fans.

As a result supporters feel part of the club and more importantly can associate with the players as people.

You may read the pressure Premier League footballers are under because they are always in the spotlight and have too many games to play.

Go down to Ashby Avenue and chat with the lads from Lincoln United.

They play  every Tuesday evening and Saturday afternoon like most non-League clubs.

They play for the camaraderie. For the enjoyment. For the loyal fans.

In short, for the love of the game.

Let’s bring back the passion and hunger in professional football.

Let’s have players who crave for the chance of playing for England.

There is a problem though.

In a culture where a top ‘pro’ can earn a million a month the passion and hunger have been removed.

When a footballer can be financially secure in his mid-20s you have removed the desire and motivation.

The result? Fifty years since England won its only major trophy.

The solution? Restrict players’ income and lower entrance fees.

The answer? Go and watch non-League football if you want to see hunger and passion still evident in the beautiful game.

Peter Hayward







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