The Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year has been presented every year since the 1947–48 season and, despite changing times and the introduction of Player Awards that seem to have gathered more credibility over the intervening time, the fact remains that this award is the one that players used to treat seriously and the only one that contains names such as Stanley Matthews, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Thierry Henry, Kenny Dalglish and Nat Lofthouse.
It is the award from people who watch every game and have no vested interest in fads, sponsors and the televised bias of companies looking for ever-expanding viewing figures both at home and abroad.
Scott Parker of West Ham United has received the award for 2010-11 and I happen to think it is a victory for good judgement and common-sense, as well as an endorsement of something that football writers may be in a better position to judge than players or followers of one club - and that is the highest level of professionalism required to put in 100% every week even when things are going against you and you're not able to hide amongst the skills of others.
Also, in a season where there has been no one outstanding contribution at the highest level of the league, this is also a approving nod to the fact that not every team in the Premier League gets to play football on a Wednesday night in front of the TV cameras, but that doesn't mean that those performances by players fighting for the lesser scraps are any less relevant to the club, its fans or, indeed, professional sport itself.
I was disappointed - and I must admit just a bit amused - to see this award being dismissed by the supporters of clubs whose own players were nominated but who failed to win; particularly those of Blackpool's Charlie Adam. It can't fail to raise a smile when your hear Tangerine's fans complaining that the award only goes to supposed 'big clubs', completely missing the fact that this very bias is the type of thing that West Ham fans have complained about for years.
Had Parker gone to the 2010 World Cup - as he surely should and would have had he played for Arsenal - then I doubt England would have even met Germany in the last 16 in that tournament, let alone lost to them. In fact, this vote for Scott Parker is a vote for the best players of every club regardless of where they finish in the league and should be celebrated by supporters of all clubs outside the big five or six.
If West Ham finish their campaign in exactly the same spot as they occupy with three weeks to go, then there may be a time to look back in decades to come and wonder what the hell the FWA were doing in 2011. But I hope that doesn't happen. Players like Scott Parker should be celebrated just as much as the legendary names of Finney, Zola and Lineker.
Now I have no illusions here; I doubt Scott Parker will be playing for West Ham next season regardless of what happens in the remaining four games of the season. So, although I feel that if there's any justice then Parker will volley home the winner in the dying minutes of the final game and earn West Ham the three points that keep them in the division, I'm not going to complain if all Parker's efforts are for naught because I genuinely believe it is good for sport and good for the game that he at least made the effort. I may be biased but I believe that the correct decision was made and I salute it.
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