By Jamie Mclaughlin and Chris Rowland.
It’s interesting to ponder just how important a captain is to a football team.
It’s not like cricket, where captaincy can greatly influence the outcome of and proceedings within a match. A cricket captain has to set the fielding positions, change the bowlers around, make decisions on when and whether to declare an innings or enforce a follow-on, be a meteorologist and interpreter of pitch and overhead conditions, and think deep strategy.
In football, strategy’s the manager’s job, though you may have a lead role to play in their tactical execution on the pitch.
You can take the reductio in absurdio view that all football captains really do is toss a coin, shake hands with another captain, pretend to be nice to the ref and approach him as a form of Kissinger when one of your team has attempted kamikaze on an opponent. Then perhaps a spot of hand-clapping and fist-pumping, maybe even take centre-stage in one of those bonding huddles and deliver a Churchillian speech, and a bit more media stuff than the rest of the team. They’re just figureheads.
So the job is pretty much just wearing an armband, right? Oh, and quite often in Liverpool’s case, lifting silverware.
Well yes and no. A good captain should inspire the rest of the team, be a man they can look to for inspiration, motivation and organisation, especially in adversity. There’s more than one way of providing all these ‘-tions’ of course. He can do it by being a commanding presence and personality, or by example, driving the team forward on the field of play and urging others to follow his lead out of the trenches and over the top.
Whether by strength of personality, force of will or on-field heroics, Liverpool Football Club has had some inspiring captains throughout their history, from 1892 when Scot (the first of many) Andrew Hannah captained Liverpool’s first- ever team right through to current captain Steven Gerrard.
Let’s look at a few who stand out throughout our history. Men who elevated the art of leadership above that described above. Men who achieved greatness, for themselves and for their teams, often through adversity.
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