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Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:03 pm
My suspicion is that football clubs were (possibly wilfully) ignorant of the long-term health of their players in those days. They were only interested in keeping them fit to play till their mid 30s and weren't much concerned beyond that point. Admittedly, players didn't look after themselves - but with wages so low and with no qualifications or experience faced poverty once they retired from the game.
Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:22 pm
Well, remember that pre-war we are talking before the NHS and/or antiobiotics. Typhoid and TB for instance were common scourges and carried off footballers along with everyone else in their path. The 'Spanish Flu' epidemic of 1918 carried a heavier death toll than the carnage of the First World War.
Also, players could sometimes convince themselves all was well when it plainly wasn't. Barney Battles Sr went down with flu after playing for Kilmarnock at Ibrox in January 1905 yet attended (though didn't play in) the Scottish Cup game v Beith seven days later. Less than a month after that he was dead from pneumonia.
I would still doubt whether - other than through football-related injuries - 'early' deaths of footballers are - or ever were - more common than among the population in general.
I take the point about post-football careers but, again, for many, football was a means of keeping them away from low-paid, labour-intensive occupations in the first place. And in Scotland not even that for most as other than a few clubs the majority of players were part-timers. The current situation - with two largely full-time divisions - is historically rare.
Seeing the old West Stand at Rugby Park renamed after Frank Beattie reminded me that when Frank signed for Killie in 1953 he put in a full shift at Plean Colliery, finishing at 2.30 pm then travelled by train from Larbert to Kilmarnock for training. That carried on for six years before he became a full-timer and by the time he retired from playing in 1972 the club had reverted to part-time again.
For most Scottish footballers a full-time career was only possible with the OF, the larger city clubs or in England.
Posted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:26 am
Life is, of course, a lottery. My father-in-law was a Canadian former ice hockey player, he lived through the Dieppe Raid, played hockey for years then ran a pub for years. But he kept fit, walked, golfed and died aged 57.
My father "captained the Scottish Drinking Team" i.e. was on the Burns Federation executive for 40 years, wouldn't walk if a car could get him there and finally drank himself to death - aged 81.
I'm 63, at least three stones overweight and taking six pills per day. My wife, who could still get into her wedding dress died five years ago, just after her 60th birthday.
The two fittest guys I ever played with both went young, one guy packed down in the second row of a scrum and never got up, he was 36, the other went out at 60.
There may be something in former players going to seed when they stop the daily training round, but keep-up the eating and drinking.
I don't know if Jimmy Stephen, Scotland's first post-war captain is still around, he'd be 88 if he is. Bobby Brown is still very sharp, aged 87, and while he's now in a nursing home in Canada, Sammy Cox is still with us at 86.
Nearer home, Lawrie Reilly and Eddie Turnbull are still hale and hearty at 82 and 87.
So (if Stephen is still with us), the Scotland Veterans XI reads:Brown; Stephen and Cox; Alex Forbes, Doug Cowie, Willie Redpath; Bobby Collins, Jimmy Watson, Lawrie Reilly, Eddie Turnbull and Allan Brown.
A couple out of position maybe, but, apart from Collins, all now in their eighties and, as far as I know, probably suffering even more than the rest of us at Scotland's inadequacies.
Posted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:00 am
Perhaps it's true that clubs didn't look after the health of their players but the players didn't either - Jackie Sinclair was, like many others from that and earlier eras, a fairly heavy smoker.
Re: Jackie Sinclair
Posted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 12:41 pm
Snuff wrote:I'm 63, at least three stones overweight and taking six pills per day.
You're not an ounce over two and a half stone overweight.
(and nowhere near as overweight as me).
Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:50 pm
exile wrote:Another ex-player sadly taking an early trip back to the dressing room. Footballers don't seem to be long lived on the whole - example, 2 of Hearts' terrible trio didn't even make it to 50. Can anyone think of a well-known ex-player who's still living in their 90s? So we'd be talking about someone who would have started their career in the early 1930s. This is not a quiz question I genuinely can't think of any long lived ex-players!
Recently dead, but Michael Foot surely?