Does the captain’s armband mean anything nowadays?

PUBLISHED: 20:06 03 February 2018 | UPDATED: 20:06 03 February 2018

Does the captain's armband mean anything? Picture: PA

Does the captain's armband mean anything? Picture: PA


Pugwash, Birdseye, Kirk and Hook.

Iwan Roberts points to his armband as he celebrates a goal - the captaincy clearly meant something to him. Picture: ArchantIwan Roberts points to his armband as he celebrates a goal - the captaincy clearly meant something to him. Picture: Archant

Whatever happened to our beloved captains?

TV and film has them, but in football the role of captain seems to be a dying breed.

Years ago you could reel off the captain of every team, there would be captains who stood out for their leadership qualities, captains who were revered, who led by example, who were feared by the opposition and loved by the fans.

But now? Well, Norwich City’s nominal captain is playing on loan for Glasgow Rangers.

“He is our club captain and important in the dressing room,” said Daniel Farke when asked about rumours of Russell Martin’s move to Scotland. Not important enough to keep him, though.

So Ivo Pinto takes the armband and, in his absence last weekend, it was worn by Alex Tettey. That’s unavoidable, but who takes it if Tettey goes off injured? Timm Klose? Or Wes Hoolahan if he is on the pitch? The armband is tossed around almost as if it simply must be worn, even if the person wearing it is third or fourth on that invisible list of captains.

Or does it really matter? Has the captaincy role been reduced to the toss of a coin and the odd chat with the ref?

Is the captain’s armband a decoration that serves as much purpose as those on the arm of General Melchett?

When Grant Holt was at Carrow Road he was clearly the captain always the leader. It was obvious; he ticked all the boxes. But he wasn’t always captain – Martin took over the role and, if memory serves, held it until Sebastien Bassong took over as team captain, with Russ becoming club captain. Now what one earth is all that about?

Also, is it beneficial to have an official team captain as well as another player who, like Holt, is the inspiration, the driving force of the team. Isn’t the official captain’s authority undermined? Unless the authority is simply calling heads or tails.

City have had some inspirational players leading the side over the years – Duncan Forbes springs to mind as the sort of player I would want leading my pack. Then there was Martin Peters, or Dave Watson, Steve Bruce, Bryan Gunn, Malky Mackay, Craig Fleming, Iwan Roberts. Adam Drury was a young man when he was passed the armband by Nigel Worthington, but he gave everything he had for the club, and set a standard others had to follow.

Mark Fotheringham was made captain in 2007, but was never particularly popular – none more so than when he was subbed by Gunn against Coventry in February, 2009 – the show of anger as he stormed down the tunnel was not that of a captain.

But roll forward to 2018 and managers and coaches appear to be unconcerned when asked who their captain is: Alex Neil’s response was a shrug of the shoulders that said ‘who cares?’

The thing is, if you have a player who deserves the captain’s armband, who can tick the boxes that Duncan Forbes ticked, for example, then you have a huge advantage. Imagine coming up against that man mountain, and then realising he is the Braveheart, the William Wallace of the yellow and green army. Maybe because players tend not to stay at club for anywhere near as long as they used to, they don’t have the same ingrained association with the club, they don’t bleed yellow and green in quite the same way as a Forbes or a Dave Stringer did.

Here’s the list of England captains over the past two decades: Alan Shearer, Tony Adams, David Beckham, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and ... various.

Is that the best we can do. Various? Or is that simply a sign of the times? A sign that the captaincy is simply a honorary role, given to the best player perhaps. Harry Kane is being touted as the proper England captain. Admittedly there isn’t much in the way of competition, but Kane is a goalscorer, not a leader of men.

Would he frighten an opponent at the kick-off formalities? Nah.

Would Forbes have done? You bet he would.

Wicked Wednesday

Transfer deadline day can be a fraught affair, especially as the 11pm deadline runs newspaper deadlines very close.

But Norwich City did us a favour, when, around 7pm on Wednesday, they posted a story on their website saying there would be no further business, in or out.

For the newspaper deadlines watchers, it was a blessing. Off went the paper to print on time.

In hindsight it was no great surprise: can you see Stuart Webber sitting there working out how much might be left in the pot to spend and then looking at a way to spend it? “If something comes up that might help we’ll have a go.”

Not a chance. I don’t think he does knee-jerk reactions.

City came out of it well: okay, Alex Pritchard went, but that will be forgotten soon (in the nicest possible way). James Maddison stayed and the fact that his departure is inevitable at some stage has been generally accepted.

And we haven’t got a Riyad Mahrez moment in sight. Lovely job.

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