All things considered, it hasn’t been the best week, has it?
After racism in Serbia and Adrian Chiles moaning about the lack of groundsmen with forks in Poland, domestic football returned on Friday night, and boy did it come back with a bang. I didn’t see the game between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds – I was being threatened in a restaurant at the time (long story, no time to explain!) – but obviously I’ve seen the footage of the Chris Kirkland incident, and appalling it is too. Reading the paper, I see that other Leeds fans got in on the act as well, singing songs about Wednesday manager Dave Jones and Jimmy Savile, neither of which were particularly savoury.
What a club, eh readers? “Vile animals” was how Jones described them, and I’m not sure I can disagree with that too much. How fitting it is that their manager is Neil “Colin” Warnock, who just happened to sign up El Hadji Diouf for the Elland Road outfit a mere few years after describing him as “a sewer rat”. They’ve always been a bit funny up in Leeds, haven’t they?
The game was brought into more disrepute (great word) the following afternoon, when the second “shirtgate” controversy in two years gripped the Premier League. Last season, you may recall, the ultimate sewer rat himself Luis Suarez was widely mocked after wearing a t-shirt of himself before the away game at Wigan, an initiative dreamt up by the Liverpool PR team to show support for the Uruguayan in the wake of the whole Evra shebang (another great word, I’m on fire here). Quite why a football club would want to support a player found guilty of racially abusing another in such a public manner is of course a question that remains unanswered, but it is what it is. Anyway, new season brings a new start and all that, though that cliché has been thrown out of the window by yet more drama revolving around racism and players wearing t-shirts in their pre-match warm-up routine.
I don’t usually say this when it comes to Premier League footballers, but you can see what Jason Roberts and Rio Ferdinand were thinking re. their decision not to wear a “Kick It Out” top before their respective matches on Saturday. If they had both worn it with no fuss, there would be no discussion, no clamour, no me writing this. They would have joined in with everyone else paying lip service to a problem which hasn’t gone away, though it is less prevalent than it was. However, it’s important to remember that the “Kick It Out” organisation is independent from the FA and struggles to rub two coins together at times, so if the pair’s gripe is over the FA’s handling of the John Terry case – which I assume it is – they’re targeting the wrong people here. As such, “Kick It Out” has found itself caught in the middle of some fairly unpleasant business, and that’s a great shame. The decision undertaken by Rio also undermined his manager, who promised a press conference the day before that every United player would wear a KIO top. Based on past history, once you cross Fergie, the end is nigh…
Jeez, that was all a bit serious wasn’t it? Once again I’ve left myself little space to ramble on about other things, so the “sportspeople fatter than Grant Holt” section will have to be discarded for another day. Instead, a word about our match on Saturday. Stoke arrived at OT with their own brand of football – a thwack and a smash and a long throw in all complimented by little Michael Owen – and they gave us a good game. Going forward we look terrific, at the back the complete opposite, stop me if you’ve heard that one before. Nevertheless, it’s only October, we’ve got defenders to come back, and Chelsea can’t keep on winning.
We’re not in a bad place you know. Keep the faith!