Graham Cummins on why he quit Cork City and the downside of a being a pro

Graham Cummins on why he quit Cork City and the downside of a being a pro

Cork City's Graham Cummins after the defeat to Dundalk in the FAI Cup final at the Aviva stadium in 2018. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

MOST players are devastated when they have to retire but I was relieved signing my cancellation contract with Cork City last week.

Some players are forced to retire because they have suffered a bad injury or they have reached an age where their body is simply no longer able for the physical demand of being a footballer but for me, I just had enough of the game and wasn’t getting any enjoyment.

There were a lot of signs telling me it was time. I’ve never enjoyed training; I could never understand why my teammates enjoyed it so much.

What is the point of winning a training ground game, it’s doesn’t count for anything. I’ve only ever cared about matches, but this season, I didn’t concern if I was starting or not in games, whereas previous years, I was gutted to be on the bench or in the stand.

I got more satisfaction from people telling me they enjoy reading my column rather than saying I had a good game, for the last number of years.

I could have waited until the end of the season and collected my wage but that wouldn’t have been fair on the lads around me, especially with City in a relegation scrap.

In a relegation battle, teams need everyone ready to fight for one another and give everything they have to help the club survive and I didn’t have the fight in me.

All I was thinking was, I can’t wait for the season to end. It was anxious walking into Neale Fenn’s office to ask him to terminate my contract.

He could have easily made life difficult for me and demanded that I honour my contract but Fenn was very understanding and could probably tell, me sticking around wasn’t going to help the club in their relegation battle.

It was just a case then of simply going into the office and signing my release forms. It was strange because having been a professional for so long, it ended so quickly.

Like most boys growing up, I always dreamt of being a professional footballer.

Of course, I wanted to play for a Manchester United, Arsenal or Liverpool but I’m satisfied with the career I had. I’d be lying if I said I’ve enjoyed every moment of being a footballer but I wouldn’t change anything about my career. Being a football is a wonderful occupation.

Having people idolise you and playing in front of thousands of people every week is something I will never forget.

Cork City's Graham Cummins after the winner in 2011 against Shels. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City's Graham Cummins after the winner in 2011 against Shels. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Earning a decent living from it also helps because, like I wrote in a previous article, even though being a footballer is great, I wouldn’t have done it for free.

There are so many downsides to the game. What affected me most, was the criticism I received from my own supporters.

I understand people venting their anger and games. Supporters are going to react if a player misses a good chance to score or concedes a penalty but what annoys me is the keyboard warriors.

The fans that hid behind their computer and think that’s it’s a good idea to abuse one of their own players. 

Granted, if a player can’t handle the criticism then they should come off social media but how does a supporter think that telling a player he’s useless, is going to be the difference that will make that player better?

Being a footballer, isn’t just about how good a player is technically or how physically strong they are, they need to be mentally strong and unfortunately for me, I wasn’t.

Any negative comment I would read would affect me and damage any confidence I had. Even when I thought I had a good game, scrolling through Twitter and reading one person telling me how bad I was, would affect me.

Reminiscing with others about my career during the week, being asked what was my proudest and lowest moments in football? The answers were easy.

Scoring the winning league goal against Shelbourne for City in 2011 and being dropped for the FAI Cup final in 2018 for City. I think not starting that final, was the moment I began to dislike being a footballer.

It will be strange getting a proper job and no longer working three hours a day but it does mean more security for me and my family and that more important than kicking a ball for a living.

The older I got, finding a job became my priority, not football.

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