Thursday, October 13, 2011

Smith Ponders Loyalty

In the latest column for Total Football magazine former Bulls midfielder Ben Smith focuses on loyalty, or the lack of it, in football.

He covers his career, the time he was wanted by Paul Ince, and comments about his departure from the Bulls for the second time:

'Managers are ruthless individuals and to be fair to them they have to be. I re-joined Hereford in January 2007 because I really enjoyed working with Graham Turner and I thought that would be the club where I would get the most first team football.

He is a man I had and still have a lot of respect for. However at the end of my contract he showed me no loyalty at all. I had turned down three clubs who all offered me three and a half year deals to sign for Hereford on a two and a half year deal.

There was an agreement that if I started 30 league games in the last year of my contract I would automatically get an extra year's contract on the wages we had negotiated to make up for the extra year I had turned down at other clubs.

You can probably guess what happened next! In that final year I made a total of 40 appearances but only 29 league starts. I was left out for one game against Colchester at the back end of the season and then put straight back into the team.

This in itself wasn’t that strange as we had an awful season in League One which culminated in relegation but I knew there was an ulterior motive it wasn’t just that I was playing crap!

I was aware that during the course of my contract the economic landscape had changed and that maybe it would be hard to justify the money I was earning. However I felt that knowing me the way Graham did we could have sat down and had a civilised discussion about the situation.

I am a very understanding guy and would have been sympathetic to his circumstances. Instead the club made me a token offer of a new contract on half my salary while pleading to have no knowledge of the clause in my contract. This really disappointed me and made up my mind to move on. Loyalty eh!'

The full piece can be read here.