McCammon breaks latest barrier on player power

In another caveat to the argument that players have too much power in the modern game that has been underlined by the contract disputes involving Wayne Rooney and currently Arsenal’s overly-ambitious Robin Van Persie, coming to the party is a player and a club with far less razzmatazz than Arsene Wenger’s annual wrangling with a trophy-wanting player, for Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie who value medals and cups above loyalty, add ex-Gillingham striker Mark McCammon in the one-sided fight that is ensuring power is firmly on the side of the player.

McCammon’s case is entirely different to that of Arsenal’s list of mercenaries of course, for the 33 year old striker saw fit to take one of his ex-clubs to court on accusation of racism, that he was isolated in treatment as opposed to the rest of the squad on a basis that discriminated against the colour of his skin. On Monday, the tribunal court found in favour of McCammon who, in his delighted reaction to the verdict, hoped it would open the floodgates for more professional players to speak out against any case of discrimination at a club.

Gillingham’s reaction was inevitably entirely different, calling it “staggering”, for they, as a League-club shaped pillar of Kent are tied to a duty to set a viable example to the fans and the community, they will refute any accusation of racism or as McCammon outlined, they would embark on a personal agenda to sabotage the career of a player just because he is black.

One notable inclusion in Gillingham’s response led by Chairman Paul Scally, whose 17 year reign has been sprinkled with varying degrees of controversy, was an implication that McCammon’s evidence was without foundation. When surveying the different incidents that the striker used to colour his allegation, one may tend to agree with Scally’s complaints of malice. Focussing around his spell with injuries, the Barbados international accuses Gillingham of using his rehabilitation to marginalise him from the rest of the squad, a long list of such incidents that came to a head with a heated first-hand dispute with then manager Andy Hessenthaler which eventually saw him sacked from the club.

This was all part of a covert discriminatory practice by Hessenthaler and co. according to McCammon, yet he severely overlooks the fact that he was appointed as the club’s highest paid player upon signing his original contract, raising the most pertinent question of the whole affair; why would Gillingham hand their juiciest contract to a man with the intention that they would ruin him?  Furthermore, in return for his reputed £2,500 a week wage, McCammon gave 5 goals in 52 appearances, a shocking record at any level and such a hard-line treatment and marginalisation from the rest of the squad seemed warranted when the player was not producing the goods he was paid handsomely for.

McCammon’s career record is a paltry 46 goals from 259 appearances in a run that has spanned 13 clubs, most latterly Braintree Town and Lincoln of the Conference and Sheffield F.C of the Northern Premier League, it has been a below-average journey through the back-areas of professional football for the 33 year old Barbadian who is now without a club. Yet, the club who installed the greatest degree of faith in him lie tarred with imputations of racism whilst Mark McCammon voices his hopes that he has pushed back yet another boundary in the constant fight for universal player power at the expense of League Two’s Gillingham. The employment tribunal are well within their rights to land on the side of the player if his evidence registers with them, but without any concrete evidence to push it beyond the foundation-less accusation made by Paul Scally, it remains a hollow victory for the striker who scored just 5 from 52 games.