WHY did Malvern finish the season without a trophy (and here we are discounting the trophy they won in the opening exhibition match against Maple)?
What happened to the side that ran so well up to late in the season only to disintegrate in the finals?
Was it just plain bad luck as the fans and the sportswriters have been saying—or was it more than that?
Even if we concede that in the final matches the ball didn't run Malvern's way we have to take a more scientific approach then merely putting it all down to luck.
The contention is that Malvern paid in the late half of the season for the mistake they made at the beginning of this year's competition.
Early in the season (TAPIA #29) we focussed attention on the fact that Malvern were going into competition with about 14 first class footballers. If we take away say two goal-keepers, then we are left with only 12.
It says a lot for the ability of the Malvern players that the team was able to win so many matches playing more or less the same team all the time.
But football being in many ways a rough game, the inevitable happened. Key players got injured and those who were not injured got tired.
So there we were on Saturday night watching a handicapped Malvern side struggling to contain Maple.
Buggy Haynes who on his day can be the best forward in the country played with stitches, Ulric Boxhill who is capable of those dramatic flashes of power and brilliance that can change a whole game, played with an injured leg and what was even worse for Malvern without the spirit and fire that made him the footballer that he is.
Other players nursed old injuries, but with no reservoir of reserve players from which to draw, the side faltered against a Maple who were running just that bit better than Malvern.
Not that the match was all that good. The clash between Maple and Malvern playing the same fast style didn't come about because Maple was running in vaps and Malvern hardly ever.
The real question, of course, is why should a side like Malvern be having difficulty in attracting bright young players. There are it would seem two reasons—one that Malvern is suffering from the ennui in the football world caused by the TFA's determination not to introduce professional football, and secondly that many of the young players who over the years have gone to join Malvern leave the side, feeling that there's no room in it for them.
They argue that Malvern is run by a clique of 'veterans' who gear the side around their friends and associates, and who do not pursue a course of actively seeking out young players and giving them real opportunity to challenge for a place in the team.
And if anyone reading this is saying in his mind that is a charge that can be brought against the TFA, itself, then the point is made that at both club and national level a kind of stifling, 'big boy' bias is hampering the country's football.
But that's the old way of doing things. We will have to reach the point where players make the team on the basis of real ability and not on their ability to socialize with this or that 'big boy".
If Malvern becomes the first club to break out of this old mould then the club would be enhancing in even more fundamental fashion the stamp of greatness that their players have earned the club over the years.