Whether we like it or not, as players, coaches, managers and clubs we all fall into place in the class system that has developed over a number of years in amateur football. It shapes the way we talk about each other and it shapes our opinions even if we do our best not to let it.
In my opinion we have four clear class groups.
Sunday football is widely regarded as the poor cousin of amateur football in Scotland. This is probably due to the fact that a lot of players will be out drinking on a Saturday night, and the unpredictability of their sobriety for a match the following day. Sunday leagues also get a lot of stick for being on a par with pub leagues with inferior players who aren’t good enough to play for a Saturday team. Historically Sunday football has been known for this but in recent times the trend is being bucked. There are thousands of quality players all over the country who play at a very good level of amateur football on a Saturday who also play for a team on the Sunday. The standard of Sunday football and the leagues in which teams participate in has certainly changed my view on it but perhaps you need to have watched games or been involved in them to appreciate who good some of these teams really are. There are players and managers who would never dream of being involved with a Sunday team because they would risk harming their reputation in the Saturday setups.
Does a day of the week really matter when you play football?
Saturday Morning Teams
One rung up on the ladder of class is the Saturday morning leagues of which there are a few. These teams struggle to attract the top players due to the class system and a bit of snobbery from players who consider themselves too good to “drop down” to Saturday morning teams. People don’t realise that writing these teams off actually gives them added motivation to prove people wrong. How many times have you seen on twitter a morning team knocking one of the afternoon teams out of a national competition and then using words to the effect of “we are just a diddy Saturday morning team.” This kind of proves my point that these teams accept their place in the class system albeit they might not agree with it. Acknowledging the fact that there is a clear divide would appear to me to be some form of acceptance.
It suits a lot of players’ lifestyle to play football in the morning and get your game played giving you the rest of the day to spend with your family, going to watch your team or down the pub. Waiting around all day to kick off at two isn’t feasible for some guys hence why the morning game suits them best? Does that make them poor players? Of course it doesn’t. These leagues may not be as strong as the afternoon ones but that is because people write them off without giving them a chance and refuse to play in them.
It goes without saying that the top teams in amateur football all play in the afternoon. That is proved by the national competitions of which no Saturday morning team that I am aware of has ever won one. Teams in these leagues will try to attract players from the morning leagues by telling players that they don’t want to be wasting their time playing morning football when they can come and play in a more attractive league with a higher standard. Does that say more about the standard of player in the morning league though or does it say more about the club trying to attract them? Afternoon players tend to be the worst when it comes to football snobbery. Many a time I have heard guys say they would be embarrassed to play on a Sunday or on a Saturday morning as they see it as dropping down a level. If you have never played at that “level” then how would you know? Continuing on from national cups from the morning section, the afternoon teams take a defeat to a morning team a lot harder than they would a fellow afternoon team because they think they should have enough in their kick off time locker to beat them before the game has even started.
Does the time of the day really matter when you play football?
Central Scottish AFL
The top of the tree of amateur football and the best league in the country, or is it?
It can’t be argued that some of the best amateur players play in this league and historically their teams do well in the East, West and Scottish Cup but does that make it the top league in the country? I think the people in power in the league would say yes and probably the majority of the people involved would say that it is. Let me be clear this is in no way a bashing of the Central league, far from it actually, but I do believe that the league as a whole see themselves as a class apart from the rest of amateur football and in turn the rest of amateur football believe the hype. A fear factor has been created around the Central teams and people look to avoid drawing one of the teams in the cups. It’s a fear factor without substance though because this is amateur football and any team can be beaten on any given day as we have seen so many times before.
We really need to drop the snobbery from some of our attitudes with regards to where we play our football. Sunday teams are littered with players who have won the Saturday Scottish Cup, Saturday morning teams are full of players who have played at a very good level of junior or professional football and afternoon leagues are have players who have played junior and won the Scottish Cup but would never play any other form of amateur.
We need to get over it.