Martin Hardy: Lovestruck Edgar Davids couldn't resist Barnet - Football League - Football - The Independent

Martin Hardy: Lovestruck Edgar Davids couldn't resist Barnet

Life beyond the Premier League

"The most difficult aspect of it," says Peter Beardsley, "and I don't mean this in any way disrespectfully, is that the players do not read your passes the same."

The "it" we are talking about is world-class players dropping down the leagues. "It" is relevant because Edgar Davids could possibly line up in the black and gold of Barnet later this month – he took his place in the home dugout on Saturday, as he is also a joint head coach – and Luis Boa Morte made his League Two debut for Chesterfield on Saturday, having last week signed a contract until January. Both Barnet and Chesterfield, incidentally, lost.

Davids is 39 and seriously decorated. In an illustrious career there was one Champions League victory, six domestic title successes and 74 Netherlands caps. He does not need to be shaking hands with Mr Bumble, the Barnet mascot, on a Saturday afternoon in front of 3,229 supporters at Underhill.

Boa Morte, now 37, won the still coveted Premier League and FA Cup Double with Arsenal in 1998. He was capped 27 times by Portugal.

Davids spoke of an adventure and the rebirth of street football when he was unveiled last week. By five o'clock on Saturday, he sounded like he'd been in the dugout for a long time. "It was not a very good performance but I saw some good spells and we have to build on them," he said. "First you have to analyse the situation and then dissect the problems. We are definitely going to look closer at the squad and see how we can improve. If that means we have to have some changes, then we have to do those."

Davids lives around the corner from Underhill. That, we were told on Friday, was why after Ajax, Milan, Juventus, Internazionale and Barcelona comes Barnet. Boa Morte moved to Chesterfield because, after an unsuccessful season in Greece and South Africa, he was chatting to Mark Crossley, the No 2 at the Proact Stadium, and the next thing he was facing Dagenham & Redbridge.

It is difficult for those outside the game to understand, especially after three of the most high-profile to make the drop in recent years, Paul Gascoigne, Sol Campbell and Socrates.

Campbell played one game for Notts County in 2009 and left – not quietly, though. "I'm not embarrassed, not hurt or humbled or anything like that, I am just disappointed," he said. "I bought into a dream and I wanted to make that dream a reality, but it took me less than a month to realise it was all heading to a different conclusion."

Notts County, it became apparent quite quickly, could not afford a defender straight from Arsenal.

Socrates did not play a full game for Garforth Town (whose owner Simon Clifford was honest enough later to admit it was a publicity stunt); Gascoigne's reign at Kettering in 2005 lasted eight matches and 37 allegations (of drinking) from the young owner Imraan Ladak.

For Beardsley, though, the desire to play still burns. He does not like the summer (there's no football). At 51 he still sometimes joins in training with Newcastle's first team.

At 36 he left Newcastle and two years later signed for Hartlepool, then in the fourth tier of English football.

"You keep playing because you love the game," he told me. "Every time I put on my boots it's the same buzz I had when I was a child. I loved playing football when I was a kid, and I still love playing football now. When I went to Hartlepool I did it because I wanted to keep playing and to help Mick Tait, who was the manager there at the time, keep Hartlepool in the league. It's because you love to play football.

"I don't blame Edgar Davids at all. There is nothing better than playing. You're a long time retired.

"What I would say is that it is impossible for the players to be on Edgar Davids' level. It sounds big-headed, but you would be a step ahead brain-wise. I found that at Hartlepool, and yeah, I was getting criticised a bit, but I was passing the ball to where people should have been running; I was looking like an idiot. That was the thing that sadly made me call it a day. I felt physically like I could have kept going but people were criticising me for the wrong reasons. What I have always done, wherever I've played, is give my maximum."

On such an apparently simple maxim rests the success (or failure) of Davids and Boa Morte. Desire cannot diminish with divisions.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news

Watch this commuter make a mad 320-metre, 75-step dash to work
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK edition of wedding show forced to recast after wave of drop-outs
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Top conservatoire offers ‘groundbreaking’ arts degree

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week