Wednesday, 4 April 2012

It’s a funny old game

It has been a rough few months for us fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club. Presently sitting rock bottom of the Premier League, staring relegation in the face, there hasn’t been much to cheer of late.

However, as I sat crestfallen in front of the television in my local pub a few weeks back, watching Fulham put a fifth past a beleaguered Wolves side, a (slightly intoxicated) stranger at the end of the bar passed on some words of wisdom that recently returned to strike a chord with me.

“That’s football,” he said. “There will be good times and bad times but, once you’ve picked your team, you stick with them for life.”

This piece of sporting acumen couldn’t be truer. You may at times admit that your defence is leakier than a rusty colander, or that even Tony Hart would struggle to inject some creativity into your midfield – but you’ll always remain loyal to the club you support.

At this point you may be thinking you’ve mistakenly clicked onto the Sky Sports website or an amateur fanzine.

However, I use this obscure footballing metaphor to demonstrate exactly the principle I found myself sticking to recently, when I waded in to the RSPCA’s defence following some stringing criticism from an old school friend.

She had taken to Facebook to post a vitriolic status update slamming the RSPCA, after a local branch admitted it had no room for a homeless kitten that had been taken into the veterinary practice where she works. Ultimately, she accused us of not caring.

Like a wounded fan who has just heard his team being torn to shreds on a radio phone-in, I took the bait and posted my own passionate argument for the organisation I’ve been proud to represent for the past four years.

Just like my beloved Wolves, I pointed out that while we are far from perfect (I didn’t know the exact details of the matter she referred to in her Facebook status), to claim we don’t care was seriously wide of the mark.

Anyone who visits RSPCA headquarters in West Sussex will be welcomed by people from all backgrounds and professions who share a passion for animal welfare – all the way from our reception team to our chief executive.

I’ll admit, it hurts when people accuse us – an organisation founded on the principal of preventing animal cruelty – of not caring. I would like to think that simply by responding to my friend’s criticism shows that we do care.

It would have been easier to sit back, ignore what I’d seen and let my employers take a beating without defence. However, the same feeling that is stoked in my gut every match day was ignited by my loyalty to the RSPCA.

So if there is one thing that we shouldn’t be accused of at the RSPCA, it is not caring. I don’t know what the future holds and where my career will take me, but I do know that just as I’ll always be a Wolves fan, I’ll always be a supporter of the RSPCA. After seeing with my own eyes so many times the great work we do, I feel like it’ll always be in my veins and I’ll always be proud to tell people I worked here.

And I know I’ll still care about animal welfare in 20 years time, just like I’ll still care if the mighty Wanderers find themselves consigned to relegation and swap the glamour of trips to Man Utd and Liverpool for wet Wednesday nights in Burnley and Barnsley.

Andy Robbins, senior RSPCA press officer

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