Football – or soccer, if you’re reading this in the non-believing countries “across the pond” – is a professional game, played by money hungry mercenaries, just out for what they can get.
That’s the common perception of most modern day footballers, but at least one man is bucking the trend. Richard Sinclair plays for Queens Park in the lower reaches of the Scottish Football League; has done for his entire career. Queens Park are somewhat unique within football, not just Scotland, in that they own the national stadium of Scotland, Hampden Park – yet remain staunchly amateur.
This means that during his entire career, Richard Sinclair has never drawn a day’s wage. Bar his expenses, the club don’t pay their players. Many players have come through the ranks of Queens Park and moved on to more traditional, professional clubs. Even rugby, which was the quintessential amateur sport, bit the bullet and went professional. For whatever reason, and by whatever means possible, since they were established in 1867, Queens Park have stuck to their roots, as have the players that pull on the black and white jerseys.
Now, Richard Sinclair has been a stalwart for The Spiders for over ten years, and the tradition in football is that after ten years at one club, a player is entitled to a testimonial season. The club arrange celebratory dinners, and perhaps a game – and your lucky man walks away with some cash in his pocket.
A trend has been set recently where some players donated proceeds to charity. Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn was amongst the first to do this, and I think Alan Shearer followed suit. For players that earn a seven figure yearly salary, it’s a nice touch, but perhaps not as big a deal as someone like Richard Sinclair.
He’s donating half of all money raised to the Queens Park youth development fund, and the other half to the world famous Yorkhill Sick Children’s Hospital. For a man that hasn’t taken a huge amount financially from the game to make such a gesture is to me, amazing. People like Richard Sinclair are the lifeblood of the game, and more column space should be devoted to people like him; not people like Asmir Begovic or Javier Mascherano who beg off playing in order to secure the next multi million pound move.
As I sit here about to watch the live draw for the Champions League group stages, a haven for the privileged and pampered, the overpaid millionaire mega-stars that inhabit the top level of the game, I would like to think that somewhere, in the corridors of power, there’s a round of applause for Richard Sinclair… you might not have seen him play, but he’s a better part of the game than the majority of people that you have.