Duty Of Care
Honestly,today’s article wasn’t planned before I wrote the one I posted yesterday. Any resemblance is coincidental,and thankfully barely compares.
It is about one of the most exciting and explosive strikers I’ve ever seen even now-and thirty years ago he was a phenomenon!
Dalian Atkinson,bloody hell he was Didier Drogba before Drogba-or a striker like him-had even been thought of. An absolute powerhouse with the pace of a sprinter and the touch of a ballet dancer,who struck like a cobra.
That’s not a bad combination when you’re in your late teens and early twenties,and it’s a damn fine thing to have on your CV. So when your team-Sheffield Wednesday-decides to sell you to a Basque club-virtually against the law to play for them if you aren’t also Basque!-and you are a 21yo big black guy from Telford,what could go wrong?
Turns out,not a lot. The fans loved him. All of the locals loved him. His fellow players loved him. But they all had one thing in common with his bosses at the club-he was driving them nuts! His focus was not on football,but on Billy Big Time. This link almost certainly won’t embed in the article,but I’ll put it in a comment ASAP. It tells you how highly he was thought of at Sociedad.
Btw,I remember them knocking us out of the EC in 82,and they wore blue and white. Nuff said!
Atkinson was sold to Sociedad by Atkinson when he was at Sheffield Wednesday,then bought back a year later by Atkinson when he arrived at Aston Villa. Ron,that is. I think Ron-having previous experience of him at Wednesday-reckoned he could handle him. He had,after all,worked wonders with Paul McGrath,though it later transpired that he did little to help the man other than get him on to the field of play.
I think though that Ron gave them something,that hope that someone believes in you and needs you. He was replaced by Brian Little and Little did nothing for either Paul or Dalian,despite apparently the best efforts of the aforementioned Richardson.
Effectively binned at 26yo-and Stan Collymore had a similar experience at the same club a few years later from John Gregory-fortunately Stan is definitely in a better place!
Now we have two police officers on trial for his murder. A simple question would be if those two officers would have been so quick to put the boot in had he been white? Apparently he posed no threat but just wouldn’t shut up at 2am. So have a tazer for THIRTYTHREE SECONDS,a few blows from an extending baton,and a Size Ten twice in the head.
We can’t bring Dalian back from the dead,nor can we give the like of him and Paul McGrath and so many others back the life that they should have had. All that talent,but so many insecurities and other problems-yet all that the clubs and the fans too were interested in was what they did for ninety minutes.
Quite probably,no-one could have saved Dalian Atkinson from his demons. But there were a lot of people in his professional life who may have tried harder. Many of us have read this court case,many of us have read the astonishing autobiography of Paul McGrath,and we all know of others too.
This has to stop. Football as an industry needs to realise that there is a duty of care to those it carelessly discards. Dalian won’t be the last,but his tragedy needs to be the one that makes a difference.
Above article by BMCUWP