Trophies are great aren’t they? Symbols of glory, the spoils of conquest, unequivocally a source of pride. Well, not necessarily.
A couple of weeks ago I made my acquaintance with the most pointless trophy in football. I’d actually seen it sitting about many times this season, hardly in a place of honour, bunged on a shelf at The Racecourse with a variety of paperwork strewn around it. It looks like a rather ornate vase my mum and dad have, and I think that’s why it didn’t really penetrate beyond my subconscious for a bit. I’ve been used to seeing something similar in the edge of my vision for decades without really thinking about it.
It looks like the sort of object which, in the days of simpler, more naive television programmes, would be passed round a gentle-paced family quiz by the contestants, who would try to guess what it is. Frank Muir would come up with a witty suggestion, but they’d never get it. This fine object isn’t a vase, and it isn’t a portable Medieval baptismal font. It isn’t even a jelly mould, although it looks like it could fulfil that purpose admirably. No, this mighty orb is the prize you get for coming second in the Conference!
Yes, they give out trophies for coming second now. Lets just stop and think about that for a moment: the Blue Square Bet Premier is the only league in professional football where being runner-up brings you nothing. If you come second in the Premier League you get to play in the Champions League, you are promoted in second place throughout the Football League, which did away with the notion of only the champions going up in the 50s, but in the Conference, second place means nothing. Still, you get a lovely trophy for it!
It almost feels like they’re taking the mick. I mean, who would want it? I can only assume its rather sad appearance is an admission by its designers that they were creating a monument to futility. It’s a trophy which has been made to be stuffed in the corner of an office rather than displayed with pride.
The conference wanted it to be presented to us on the pitch last season, along with medals, ignoring the fact that the players and fans were gutted at missing out on the title despite winning 98 points during the campaign, and would now be forced into the play-offs against sides which finished so far behind us we almost lapped them. We declined the offer.
There were parts of the offer we weren’t allowed to refuse though. We had to accept it, albeit privately, we have to keep it polished and, get this, we have to have our name engraved on it at our own cost! That’s called twisting the knife.
And so it sits discarded and disregarded, which seems to be the rightful fate for a trophy no right-minded person would want, a trophy which commemorates your failure to achieve what you were aiming for. Would you rather not have a pot to piss in, or a taking the piss pot?