Johnstone’s Paint Trophy: Any Point?
Everyone wants to win a trophy, from the management, to the players, to the supporters. It’s been a long time since Leeds United were involved in any form of ‘final,’ with the 2006 Championship Playoff finale at the Millennium Stadium no doubt still a painful memory for most Leeds supporters.
However, could it be said that our slide into League One has given us a chance for more than just league winning glory? Relegation has meant something extra for Dennis Wise to contemplate this season, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, or Paint Pot Cup to some fellow Vital Football editors, traces its history (though then called the Associate Members Cup) back to 1983, a year that saw the first ever British breakfast TV program started, Neil Kinnock take up the Liberal Democrat leader post and the birth of one Lucy Pinder (woohoo!) The tournament was designed as a replacement for the Anglo-Scottish Cup which folded in 1981 following the withdrawal of Scottish teams (which would obviously cause an issue given the competitions name) and has had a host of sponsors along its way.
Whilst the name of the competition has seen many a change, the general attitude towards the importance of the Football League Trophy has remained somewhat constant, with even League Two teams preferring to field considerably weaker sides, in order to concentrate on league matches. The woeful nature of some participating sides meant that the FA intervened, as teams are now obliged to field at least 6 of the players with the most league appearances in their respective position.
This has of course raised the bar for the fixtures per round, however many clubs are still using it as a chance to emulate the great Rafa Benetez, who has developed a knack for rotating his squad more than he could ever manage had they been placed within a NASA Human centrifuge. Whilst the likes of Thompson, Clapham, Richardson and Heath all featured during Tuesday evening’s 1-0 victory away to Darlington, first choice `keeper Casper Ankergren, along with striker duo Kandol & Beckford were all given the evening off.
It is strange that, despite the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy offering the best chance of success and silverware outside of league promotion, that clubs continue to field weaker sides, to ever dwindling numbers of supporters. The obvious downside of this form of competition, is that during the matches players are still at the risk of picking up suspensions that will count for league games, and injuries whilst featuring in a competition that many, if not all clubs seem to disregard on a whole.
If someone from the FA is reading, perhaps the Johnstone’s Paint/Football League Trophy should be re-designed so that clubs consider it an achievement to progress, rather than an inconvenience?
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