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Mick Rathbone Column - Football's lost 'superfuel'

Sometimes there is simply too much choice and many times recently I have been overwhelmed by the vast array of goodies on display - muesli bars tipped with chocolate, jelly babies, wine gums, jaffa cakes, caramel protein bars, strawberry energy bars, bananas and sachets of hi-energy gels in all of nature's flavours!

And don't even get me started on the drinks, a rainbow selection neatly stacked and promising to cover every nutritional requirement! Sounds like I am describing the display cabinet of some new ultra trendy health and fitness centre but amazingly I am describing what I now see in the dressing room every Saturday!

Now I’m not knocking it but it makes me smile when I think back to the late seventies when I started my football career and the 'refreshments' that were available to us.  Well I use the plural but it should really just be refreshment because essentially all you got to reenergise yourself with at half time was a big pot of tea usually made with that hideous sterilised milk beloved of that era. The sugar of course had already been added en masse to produce a disgustingly sticky brew.  

The only other option was to stick your head under the tap and have ‘mineral’ water.  After the game it was a similar story except it was supplemented with the wonder drink that nobody seems to use any more.  Nothing could restore you like this could, aches and pains simply melted away in fact it was so good even the emotional pain of a bad defeat or bad personal performance could be salvaged.

This wonder drink was a subtle water based solution containing sugars barley, malt and hops. Its brand name was BEER! Drink enough of the stuff and heavy defeats and personal disasters simply melted away and the booing and vitriol from the fans suddenly didn’t seem such a big deal. 

So valuable and important to the refuelling needs of the player was this fine drink that it was taken to away games in large quantities on the team bus and often loaded before the kit such was its magical powers.  Indeed on many occasion when we ran out of said drink we were forced into the inconvenience of stopping at one of the special outlets that were available-commonly known as THE PUB! The only downside with this fine beverage was that there could be a danger of overdose and unfortunately on many occasions in my professional desire to refuel I did accidently drink too much! Let’s call it an occupational hazard!

That era – known as the dark ages – by nutritionists and fitness coaches was the period when apparently we were miles behind the rest of Europe in terms of preparation and recovery and we should hang our heads in shame - the only thing was though we kept winning the European Cup! Bring back the superfuel!

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