When Rick Parker heard Dwight Yorke had allegedly referred to the Macarthur Bulls as a "pub team", he took offence on behalf of the tens of thousands of amateur footballers who pay their own way to have a run around every weekend. He feels it's one thing for a pub team to call itself a pub team, but a bit condescending coming from the mouth of one of world football's more recognisable names.
Yorke's ill-fated stint as Bulls coach is over – reportedly off the back of a dressing-room spray in which he questioned the A-League team's professionalism and commitment – but the fallout remains. Parker's team – the division five Camden Tigers over-35s – play in the Macarthur Football Association, the region the struggling Bulls are trying so hard to win over.
Yorke's put down won’t help the cause. "I thought it was disrespectful to teams that perhaps aren't playing to the standard of Dwight's previous teams," Parker told Yahoo Sport Australia.
"It's the greatest game in the world, it's God's game, it's the world's game, it's the simple game. And all the guys that I play with, they're playing for the love of it.
"They're not playing for trophies or playing because they need to get any better. They just want to go out there, have a good time, get away from it all for a couple of hours and have a run around followed by a few beers.
"There's very little room for improvement when you turn 50. We're not pretending to be someone we're not."
Dwight Yorke criticism of Macarthur 'a bit much'
Training is a foreign word at the Tigers' 35/5s, although it's officially filed under "optional". Ages vary from 38 to 61 and players' occupations range from truck drivers to school teachers, electricians to accountants,. There's even a professional greyhound trainer.
Characters include "Sin Bin", the club's bar manager who spends more time off the field than on it and the versatile "Uncle Albert", the veteran of the team at 61 and prone to spending as much time on the ground as he does upright.
There's also the "Walsall Warrior", "Simple Simon" and "Jude Law", the latter pair combining for one of the goals of the 2022 season.
Parker is the Tigers' left-sided midfielder, spiritual leader and chronicler of the team's fortunes. He self-deprecatingly named the side's Facebook page "Camden Tigers Over 35s Division 5 (The Lowest of the Low!)", but worries Yorke's messy departure will damage football in the area.
He said: "I think it's a bit rich for Dwight Yorke to come down here and end his association with the region like that. The Bulls have only been going two or three years and we need the profile because crowd numbers have been disappointing.
"When you get a high-profile person like Dwight York moaning about the standard of football, having only really managed the team for half a year, it’s a bit much. I feel he should perhaps show a bit more respect."
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