Saturday, February 18, 2006


El Nev Pasionata

After Gary Neville's 'provocative' goal celebration against Liverpool earlier in the season, football fans were treated to a chorus of media criticism, and a large chunk of it came from Five Live and their perpetually angry Ulsterman Alan Green.

Greeny went on a long and rambling rant, and carried on moaning into his phone-in show 6-0-6, which proceeded to become, in the words of Duleep Allirajah, '[not] so much a radio talk show as a shop-a-player hotline for replica-shirted copper's narks.' The fact that Mr Green is a life-long Liverpool fan appears to have been forgotten in the coverage.

Today, in the build-up to the much-hyped Cup tie between the two, the football crew at Five Live didn't appear to know what to do. The man in the studio - was it Pougie or Saggers? How can you tell the difference anyway? - was probing about the issue, while Greeny appeared to be backtracking, claiming that not enough attention was being paid to the actual game, and there was 'too much focus on personality.' Well, who started that?

Then I started to get really annoyed as senior football correspondant Mike Ingham weighed in. First he railed against talkSport, for allegedly claiming that Green was behind the controversy - which is at least half true anyway - and then said this:

'I'll tell you something else as well. The BBC would have loved to have this game as an evening kick-off, but it's had to be lunchtime because of the threat of crowd trouble.'

Oh, cry me a river. Five Live frequently have people on their programmes claiming that Sky showing matches, meaning that not everything kicks off at three on a Saturday afternoon, is slowly destroying football, yet when it's their own coverage that's inconvenienced, they suddenly expect pity.

Football players should celebrate goals as they see fit at the time. Whatever my personal dislike for Gary Neville - 'the world's worst trade union shop steward' as the BBC's own Kevin Day described him - at least he is a proper Mancunian with a genuine dislike for Scousers, and who can be upset at a bit of passion in the game? If the BBC lot had their way, football would be a bland spectacle with people never jeering, and only cheering at officially acceptable moments. As Neville himself said:

'What are you meant to do? Smile sweetly and jog back to the halfway line? Increasingly people seem to want their footballers to be whiter than white and there are calls for sanctions over every little incident. Do they want a game of robots?'

Fair point. Personally, if I were living in fantasy land, Neville would score a hat-trick today, including a winning decider in the 89th minute, before racing up to boringly litigous Scousers in the Kop and mooning them. Sadly, at halftime, Liverpool lead 1-0.

Don't you think it's worrying that this man has become a standard bearer for the freedom of expression?

Makes me laugh all that shite. The abuse fans give to players yet they expect the police to get involved the moment a player makes even the remotest of gestures to the crowd. The problem lies in the fact that a player has control over his own behaviour, a crowd it is assumed acts as an entity in itself and therefore it's behaviour is no longer governed by the morality of the individual but the wounded pride of the collective. Or something. It's all shite to be honest.

I mean, there were people on wednesday night at the Inverness game singing songs about bricking teuchters(highlanders)

I did join in with a hearty chorus of "What's It Like To Fuck Yer Maw" though...........

Players have a responsibility to behave in as rational a manner as possible, but fans are the ultimate sensitive souls when they feel they've been done wrong. I have more loathing for fans of the club I support than any footballer I know of.
I would pretty much agree with all of that. Frankly, though, I don't have too much of a problem with lots of swearing and bad behaviour on the terraces. I suppose it would be different if I were a parent.

By the way, congratulations on your win on Wednesday. I guess that you will lose to Hearts, but hey - you've gotta get there to try!
I think we'll mark that one down as a home win eh Steve?. It's on the tv again. Full time footy next year and a bit of cash left over, which is nice.
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