My letter to York City FC’s Clarke Carlisle regarding the pre match handshake
Having listened to York City Fc player Clarke Carlisle on Talksport the other day and later read the superb Graham Poll article on the pre match handshake situation i thought i should drop Clarke a line.
York City FC
20 September 2012
Dear Mr Carlisle,
I recently heard you speaking on the radio discussing the pre-match handshake situation where acting as Chairman of the PFA you gave a your perspective on the matter. It was an interesting listen and thought I should write to you with commentary on the subject.
Your main point of view seemed to concern the FA’s Respect campaign. In that any notion of ditching the handshake would undermine the campaign. Whilst the reality is that the handshake may have been brought in under the curtain of the campaign its true purpose is one to ensure that the game starts on time. The campaign, which is important, should be focused on other more pressing areas. The respect of referees by players, players by the fans and everyone by parents (on a grassroots level).
In almost every sound bite I’ve heard over recent years regarding the situation, players and ex-players have almost unanimously called for it to be abandoned. The reason why? Respect is earnt and should be a choice. After the battle pay tribute to your opponent and provide respect. Forcing the players is wrong. I’ve heard many comparisons to the handshake in sport. One in particular is the touching of gloves in boxing. Sometimes they touch, sometimes they don’t. When the referee forces them the gesture of sportsmanship and respect is a meaningless one. But as with most sports regardless of the rivalry before competition, the winner and loser will embrace and congratulate each other in an act that defines the very reason the handshake in your opinion is in place.
Something more fitting may well be a stare down. The teams line up opposing each other, while for instance the premiership or home club anthem is played. The officials walk between them, it ends, ref blows his whistle, the crowd roar and the players run out onto the pitch. This would be a more fitting, more exciting as a spectacle and would demonstrate that the players are ready. They can look into the eyes of their opposite number and either rise to it or crumble. But hey that’s just me romanticising the game as usual.
The game needs simpler and fairer rules, guidelines and boundaries to ensure respect amongst players, officials and fans, not a meaningless handshake where the players can mouth ‘eff off’ when the hands are clasped. In your position as PFA Chairman I feel it would be more fitting to back the consensus of the players as I believe you have a true voice against the FA and FIFA etc. Having noted your emerging off the pitch career over recent years I wish you well.