Is Captaincy Really That Important?

2 02 2010

With all this talk of John Terry’s possible removal from the England captaincy, we began thinking what the role entailed and how crucial they are to the teams performance. The answer that we came up with was, well, not very!


Football is a game that is dictated entirely by the referees. It is the ref’s who decide when something is a penalty, free kick, yellow card etc. Obvious you may think, but in no situation that we can think of does a ref give a captain a choice that might effect the game. Even the toss up is negligible with pitches and playing conditions generally so good these days. With the game one dimensional (in that it is played with the feet and no other part of the body, keepers and throw ins excluded) and the punishment for any particular offence proscribed by the rulebook, it inevitably limits the participation of the captain.

Rugby by contrast is full of decisions which may effect the outcome of the game. Do we kick for touch, go for goal, tap and run, scrum down etc, any of which have a tactical element to them and will directly affect the end result. Moving to cricket and even a novice will be able to pick out the captain of the fielding side if asked after only a few minutes.

Terry is praised for his leadership on the football pitch and we concur that he seems to do the job admirably. Examples of captains who were praised for the example they set are commonplace, Martin Johnson and Nasser Hussain springing to mind. Terry therefore is in good company, but as captain in most other sports, that is the bare minimum you should do. Due to the fact that on a football pitch there are no other decisions to make, it does not seem that onerus. As long as you are seen to be playing hard and exhorting your colleagues on to greater things nothing else is expected. During pre game and half time periods the Manager will do much of the talking so to our eyes, leadership in football, whilst not a doddle, is certainly easier than in many other sports.

Saying all this one of the greatest displays of leadership by example we have ever seen, was David Beckham’s efforts against Greece in the 2002 World Cup qualifier. He was literally everywhere on the pitch, seemingly at the same time and capped it off with that remarkable free kick.


In cricket the effect of removing or unsettling the captain is only too apparent when you look at the chaos that ensued when Pietersen was skipper. It took the calming influence of Strauss to come in to put England back on the right track. A current example is Pakistan, for whom, Mohamed Yousuf has just given the most extraordinary display of how not to skipper a side in their tour to Australia.

Therefore the footballing armband is a formality and honour only so we say remove Terry, give it to A.N. Other senior player and get on with it.

Whilst we’re on the subject of hopeless captains, lets remove Borthwick from the rugby job too. At least Terry can justify his starting position!




4 responses

2 02 2010
James Parrett

Your bias against football is getting a bit tiresome Brad. Yes there are a lot of oiks that play football, and the – let’s call it an “uber-oik” – of the game is one of the most distasteful out there. There are, however, plenty of unpleasant, dishonest, adulterous, cheating scumbags that play rugby, cricket – even polo! In fact in every walk of life, both public and private, there are these unfortunates. It’s beyond boring that this Terry story has so much legs.

Maybe time to move your blogs away from a daily telegraph / mail reader style and show the original comments this blog is capable of.

2 02 2010
James Parrett

Sorry that Daily Mail comment was just plain offensive. I retract that.

2 02 2010

Thank you Pol for the mail retraction!

I don’t mean this to be an anti football, just thought it was a legitimate question. Simply that when it comes down to it, what does a captain do in football that makes him crucial to the side?

I agree no sport is perfect and don’t think I have really gone overboard against football in this article. I am actually enjoying football far more than I have in years so that is not the intention.

Really what I am saying is get rid of him and lets move on!

3 02 2010
James Parrett

Harry Redknapp’s musings on what he wants from a captain: “You look for a leader, somebody who can take your instructions on the pitch, see things that are going wrong and put them right in their own way, and every captain is different.

“Bobby Moore was a great captain – he was quiet, he led by example, he didn’t shout and scream at anyone. He was probably our greatest captain, we won the World Cup with Bobby as captain.

“But everybody has different ways. Tony Adams would be barking out orders, he was a great captain, organising people and talking. John Terry is a leader when he plays. Again, he organises and bosses people on the pitch. But everybody is different.”

Every team, no matter which sport, needs a leader of some sort.

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