The ‘big’ teams submerged in their golden era, and can’t relinquish their past in the lower tiers.
Many older generations will remember the marquee blue and white stripes of Sheffield Wednesday, the fearsome red of Nottingham Forest and the pristine white jerseys of Leeds United and Derby County marching onto the field for what ITV called, The Big Match.
These past giants of football, steeped in illustrious history and honours, boasted the managerial greats of Clough, Revie – and dare I say Atkinson for Wednesday. They won trophies, respect and admiration for the efforts. Now, their accomplishments are consigned to the record books, dust-ridden videos and ghostly pasts as these clubs lay in the abyss of lower tier football – according to many: ‘sleeping giants’.
‘Sleeping giant’ should be scoffed at and laid to rest. The notion that clubs, like Wednesday, Leeds, Derby and Forest, belong in the sovereign of the Premier League purely insults the clubs that aspire to create their own ‘good old days’. Suffice to say that these ‘giants’ are fully deserving of their acknowledgements. Absolutely! The integrity of their antiquity should not be called into question; however, the lunacy that these clubs should still be affiliated with the Premier League simply because of their past is very much open for debate.
In the grand scheme of things, this is a pedantic argument to some, possibly an irritation to the sides that brush shoulders with them every week and a habit for those who associate themselves with the ‘big clubs’. It may also seem that I am picking on the four I have mentioned, but there are many others who that because they had a whiff of success in times gone by and boast a stadium of over 30,000, believe their future is reserved for the big time.
Furthermore, it could be conceivable to think that I am pointing the finger at every fan of these clubs. Not at all. Firstly, it is not just the fans, there are managers and players that have also spouted this creation to suggest a positive impression and usually a false illusion. We know that there are realists associated with all football clubs, personnel who know the past won’t change their league position; nevertheless, there are grandfather clocks who utter the words: “We’re too big for this league”. I have heard it on numerous occasions at the Walkers Stadium – or King Power Stadium as it’s now called.
Leicester City are actually a good example of a team who have experienced the good, the bad and the threat of liquidation over the last two decades, but now might see themselves as a ‘sleeping giant’. When Martin O’Neill took over from Mark McGhee in 1994 he transformed the mantra from a yoyo club to top ten Premier League outfit. He registered the Foxes’ first piece of silverware in 26 years with victory in the Coca-Cola Cup in 1997, as well as the Worthington Cup three years later – now the Carling Cup. European football was delivered to the old 21,000-seater Filbert Street as a subsequence of domestic cup successes, squaring up to Atlético Madrid and Red Star Belgrade.
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