No More Softie
No More Softie
Saturday 25th July was one of my saddest days at Fir Park. If I am completely honest - I shed tears - why? Motherwell hadn't been relegated or knocked out of the cup on penalties. No, my tears were caused by the sight of one man and two little girls. 'Softie' was walking off the hallowed turf for the last time and when Dougie Arnott does the same next year I believe the days of testimonial games for long-serving players will be gone. Players don't stay with one club for twelve years anymore. They take the money and move on. And who am I say they're wrong.
I always felt reassured to see names like Arnott and Philliben on the teamsheet. I know that whether they had a good day or a bad day they would have a day when they gave 100% for the club. They could never be accused of not trying.
That's why Softie was such a favourite. He wasn't the most talented or skilful player ever to grace the claret and amber. He was more likely to make you shake your head in despair as another long pass went astray than gasp in admiration at some piece of silky football.
He received his share of criticism for things that he didn't or couldn't do but at the end of the day very few people had a bad word to say about him. Why should that be? I'm not sure about other people but I could forgive him for things that he wasn't - flash, gifted, talented, skilful and appreciate him for what he was - solid, honest, dependable committed and loyal. And I suspect that's why nearly 5000 people turned out to watch him play for the last time and remember - missed penalties, last minute keep-us-in the cup goals, thirty five yard thunderbolts or rock solid defending against the old firm. And thinking of the disappointment he felt on missing the cup final despite being a colossus in the defence on the road to Hampden.
Softie has given us twelve years to remember. So on the 25th as the Philliben family took their last bow, I swallowed the lump in my throat, wiped the tears from my eyes and murmured, "Bye Softie, thanks for the memories".
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