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Day: February 12, 2012

The Perils of being a fan

Every so often here at The Rambles of Neil Monnery we put together a guest blog. This is one of those occasions. My old Journalism SIADian compadre Mr Sean Breslin has composed the following with his feelings on the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra incident. He may well have a semi-regular football piece here on the blog in the near future. I hope you enjoy.

I would see myself as quite a placid, lucid almost intelligent individual but for at least three hours a week (more if my team loses) all those character traits go out of the window. I always thought theory of mellowing with age would be true for me, however it would appear when it comes to football and myself its just bollocks.

The tribal element of football is inbred into my DNA, growing up in a town in the middle of England where Celtic v Rangers means more than anything else hasn’t helped my usually calm disposition. I am not a fan of Scottish football it is more akin to Subbuteo than the beautiful game but I love going to the pub to sing songs or cheer on an ideology and faith that is embodied in a football club. Does this make me and 30 000 other people in the town bad people?

Personally I think not. Sport in its purest form has been and always will be a battle of ideologies and football highights it better than no other. Barcelona (socialist) and Real Madrid (capitalist), Celtic (catholic) and Rangers (protestant) and this season a previously tense but calm rivalry forged through industrial squabbles, Liverpool and Man United has suddenly exploded. I best state here and now I am a Liverpool fan and proud to be one too. Suddenly though to have pride in your club (or maybe just my club) seems to be taboo.

Over the last week’s I have grown frustrated at certain aspects of the whole case and these frustrations go against everything a placid, lucid intelligent person would think. Luis Suarez was wrong in his actions on that fateful October day, indeed Liverpool as a club were wrong on that December night in Wigan when they wore shirts in support of the Uruguayan, and it is with that action the intelligent thinking begins to stop. I defy any fan to honestly say when they saw those t-shirts they didn’t think ‘yes boys! lets get behind him and show the rest what for!’.

The ban commences and form dips, suddenly we are pining for his return. Then the two rivals meet and in the stands, one man’s racist and another man’s culturally misunderstood hero is seen by the whole world celebrating wildly when his team score a late winner. Bang, all intelligence has gone out of the window its now adoration for him, clubs and fans love a controversial hero (the criminally convicted and jailed Eric Cantona, anyone?)

And so to this weekend which started badly for me when I journalist i greatly respect Patrick Barclay, makes references a sickening reference to the Heysel disaster on twitter, I just had a sense this was going to be a shit weekend. The match in which the best team and I would think likely champions won easily was just a sideshow to the panto that has since broken out. Here is where my peril lies, lets put some points reasonable arguments out there. Yes, Suarez was wrong and should have shaken Evra’s hand. Yes, Dalglish was wrong when his now infamous interview didn’t quite go to plan and even Ferguson was right to label Suarez a disgrace. Then today the club, its manager and striker were right to apologise for yesterday’s events.

But football doesn’t always make sense and as a fan despite all the intelligent sensible arguments I find myself angry at those apologies today. Not once throughout the entire story so far did the higher echelons of the club make a statement, so why now? Surely it would have been right to make their feelings known when Luis was found guilty, not when he refuses to shake the hand of someone he claerly has no time for. It just does not make sense.

Why does Dalglish apologise for a bad interview, his counterpart refused to speak to the state broadcaster for several years but found no reason to apologise for that. And then there is Luis, his apology I understand to a point, the point where there has to be a line drawn and now is the time. But as a betting man I will not be putting a fiver on Ferguson apologising to Liverpool for telling them how to deal with their assets, when his sentiments only ratchet the fever up further.

This is the peril of being a fan, despite intelligent arguments, passion and the love of one’s club will win through. But as a personal hero John Barnes said last night on ESPN, ‘there are much more important things going on in this country today, and football teams or players are not the custodians of moral value in this world’. If they were then this country would be a disastrous place.

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