Monday, 3 August 2015

Leaked minutes from a meeting of the Fellowship of Footballers Forced to play at Fullback (FFFF)

The following document is a leaked copy of the minutes from a recent meeting of professional footballers forced to play at fullback. It is reprinted verbatim in the public interest as this website seeks to raise awareness of their plight. May they suffer in silence no longer.


The Fellowship of Footballers Forced to play at Fullback (FFFF)

Bi-annual Meeting minutes
August 3rd, 2015

Leandro Bacuna, Elliott Bennett, Chris Brunt, Jack Colback, Craig Gardner, Bradley Johnson, James McClean, Kieran Richardson, Jeff Schlupp, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young.

Kieran Richardson

Antonio Valencia

  • Welcome and New Members
  • Old Business
    • Tony Pulis
    • Strategies for confronting managers
  • New Business
    • FFFF as an abbreviation
    • Alex Neil: a new threat?

Chairman Richardson welcomed the Fellowship to the meeting. Additional seating was sourced for first-time attendees Bradley Johnson, Elliott Bennett and James McClean.

Craig Gardner will assume responsibility for ensuring there are sufficient chairs in place at the commencement of the next meeting, with Ashley Young now identified as having an ability deficit in this area.


Tony Pulis

Chairman Richardson picked up the discussion from the last meeting regarding current West Bromwich Albion FC manager Tony Pulis’s propensity for playing non-fullbacks at fullback.

The Chairman noted that Pulis would appear to have dispensed with the strategy, deployed during his time managing Stoke City FC, of playing centre-backs at fullback. Consequently, Albion defenders Jonas Olsson, Gareth McAuley and Craig Dawson have politely declined an invitation to become members of the Fellowship, though Olsson has added the caveat that he would “definitely like this reviewed” in future if necessary.

Craig Gardner and Chris Brunt (both currently employees of Pulis) then spoke at length about their manager's emerging trend of picking “literally any midfielder, regardless of stature” at fullback. It was noted by the Chairman that the FFFF recognises how severely this is hampering not only the careers of Gardner and Brunt, but also that of new Fellowship member James McClean.

McClean then spoke with great emotion of his dismay at being deployed at fullback in friendlies since his signing this summer, stating that he was promised he would “definitely play on the wing” but hadn’t realised that this would entail marking the opposition’s wingers and playing at fullback. [At this point the members all rose and linked arms in a show of support to McClean.]

Pulis remains the greatest danger to the FFFF's ongoing work, with both members and non-members urged to avoid signing for one of his sides. 

Strategies for confronting managers
Members Jack Colback and Ashley Young spoke in turn of how they successfully overcame spells of being played at fullback against their will. Colback referenced his time at fullback under the stewardship of Paolo Di Canio at Sunderland AFC, noting that the Italian had placed Colback there due to a misunderstanding where Colback was adjudged to have “looked at him funny”, resulting in a lengthy spell in a previously alien position, from which the player gained nothing but humiliation and the loss of respect of his friends, family and loved ones.

Colback revealed that he was only able to end his time as a fullback by "waiting patiently until the gaffer hated all the others even more than he hated me". This was assessed by the members to be a good strategy when managed by Di Canio, but too long-winded to deploy under most managers.

Young spoke of how he was able to overcome his spell at fullback for Manchester United FC last season by “basically just still being a winger and waiting for the actual winger in front of me to lose form”. This was deemed to be one of the most successful strategies for ending an unwanted spell at fullback, one that fellow members Bacuna and Schlupp said they would be aggressively pursuing in the coming season.


FFFF: a good abbreviation?

The Chairman asked the group to consider whether 'FFFF' is somewhat unwieldy as an abbreviation for the Fellowship of Footballers Forced to play at Fullback, noting that it is quite laborious when spoken out loud. “Nobody can be bothered to spell out 'Eff-Eff-Eff-Eff',” he said, “but on the flipside, much as we’d like to be an acronym spoken as a single word like ‘Fifa’ or ‘Uefa’, public take-up on 'Ffff' may not be a resounding success. Chris Brunt summed up the feelings of the group with his closing remark that ‘Ffff’ would “look like someone had farted” in written form.

A brief discussion of alternative options had mixed results, with perhaps the best suggestion being that of Craig Gardner, who suggested ‘F4’ as preferable to ‘FFFF’. The Chairman was then forced to remind the group of the seriousness of these meetings when Ashley Young flippantly suggested a rebranding to ‘Fullbacks 4 Justice’ and that Chairman Richardson could "launch the new logo dressed as Batman". Young apologised for this remark and concurred with the Chairman’s view that he is “not as clever as he thinks he is”.

Alex Neil: a new threat?
New members Bradley Johnson and Elliott Bennett addressed the group for the first time on the subject of their manager Alex Neil playing them at fullback in pre-season friendlies. With both players established members of the Norwich City first-team squad, Johnson wondered if it was a case of Neil, a relatively recent appointment as manager, “letting the lads know who’s boss”, while Bennett felt that it may have been “because friendlies are just a laugh, a bit like training”, though conceded he was experiencing sleeping problems and recurring nightmares about “having to mark Hazard and Sterling” this season.

The group agreed to monitor developments regarding Alex Neil's approach, with the Chairman stressing that Neil “probably isn’t another Pulis, but we can’t afford to be complacent”. Consequently discussion of Alex Neil will remain scheduled for the next meeting, but will not be upgraded to the permanent place on the agenda afforded to Pulis at the present time.

The meeting adjourned after the singing of the traditional Fellowship anthem, We Shall Not Be Moved.

The next meeting will be held on 4th January 2016.


The FFFF's Mission:
Footballers should not be forced to play at fullback. Having to play at fullback is degrading and should not be inflicted upon elite athletes unless they have specifically chosen to play there. If you are a footballer being played at fullback without your explicit consent, contact the FFFF today and we can act as your voice. Together we can enforce positive change and stamp out footballers having to play at fullback against their will.


Luke B-B said...


Ben North said...

Phil Jones could possibly be in the FFFF/F4 is anyone knew what his best position was. However I think he would probably just contribute by repeating his own name in a Matt Damon/Team America kind of way.

Ross Tyson said...

Brilliant, really funny keep writing.

Anonymous said...

You missed Jonathan "I gave him a DVD of Gary Neville" Woodgate, Ryan "I can't believe I did it at Blackburn instead of Ibrahima Sonko" Shawcross and Geoff "I've never played Right Back before in my life, but I might as well give it a go at 28" Cameron.

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