Reaction to the reaction to John Terry by Will Buckley

Reaction to the reaction to John Terry by Will Buckley

By Will Buckley


Will Buckley, shares his “Reaction to the reaction to John Terry” in this weeks Full Contact Chairmans Report

One of the hangovers from having been a journo is that when colleagues and friends appear on discussion programmes it can be hard not to join in from the relative comfort of one’s sofa. So it was once again during Friday’s Newsnight that I found myself ranting and raving at the telly using language remarkably similair to that under discussion, albeit without the asterisks.

John terryThe object of my ire was the stuff and nonsense spoken on the subject of John Terry.

First, there was Matthew (Syed), normally so sane, suggesting that referees dismiss players for swearing on the football pitch. What a swell idea. Games would last a quarter of an hour, particularly when you factor in that a team must forfeit on having a fifth player sent off.

People complain about player’s wages already, imagine the hue and cry if they only played for a couple of minutes a week before picking up yet another three match ban for yet another red card. Matthew, of course, plays table tennis, the shyest of sports. I have hardly heard a player speak, let alone swear, while covering table tennis. It makes badminton look like Goodfellas.

Second, Jim (White) also seemed very hung up by swearing, becoming very hot under the blue collar about the phrase ‘industrial language’. This seems odd. The greatest British comic character of the last decade, Malcolm Tucker, does little else but swear. Perhaps we should celebrate, not condemn, our sweariness. Perhaps the trial did not ‘shame’ football but, instead, provided a wonderful showcase for national role models displaying their very British gift for lively language. Perhaps not, but no more ludicrous than these sudden calls for a blanket ban on swearing Finally, Sundar (Katwala) weighed in to argue that football grounds should be sanitised so as to be suitable for his six year old. We are not all six, Sundar.

You could take your son to Ice Age 4, instead. Disappointingly little swearing in the first three. If the kid can’t stand the heat take him to Disney is what I say. Football is an adult entertainment that caters for, and provides an outlet for, our childish natures. Not one that needs to be (further?) infantilised to appeal to children.

So why were so many sensible people speaking such crap. Because the Terry verdict had upset their soft liberal values. John Terry has been found not guilty as charged so they had to find something else with which to charge him. He is not a racist but they want him to be punished for being a racist. Justice has been done but it is not the justice they wanted to see done so now, despite the apparent contradiction with their soft liberal values, they want an injustice to be meted out upon John Terry.

It is a textbook illustration of High Guardian Hypocrisy. They find Terry offensive and want him to change so he is more congenial to them. They find aspects of football offensive and want the sport changed to be more congenial to them. They are self-evidently right and we must all conform. Which is the argument of a supreme fucking knobhead.

Some facts for those (almost certainly all three of the above) who have only watched one particualr snippet of the game on You Tube. From the off, the game was, according to Ray Wilkins ‘very old school’. It was a throwback to the 70s – rash sending offs, dodgy penalties, an abundance of niggle, all played out in a highly charged atmosphere. ‘You can’t hear yourself think,’ said Wilkins. And if you couldn’t hear what was in your head how could you hear what someone yards away might be saying. It was a case about what someone may or may not have said in which, because it was so noisy, no one could hear anything. It was therefore fatally flawed from inception and only brought because an off-duty police officer happened to be looking at You Tube. The last time an off-duty police officer played such a big role in the national game was when one ran on the pitch at Stamford Bridge during a League Cup semi-final second leg in order to attempt to decapitate Clive Walker for having the temerity to have scored against his former club.

Now that truly was old school.

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About Will
Host of ESPN's Off the Ball, BBC Fighting talk panellist, practising sports law barrister, Chairman of Full Contact Law, author of “The Man Who Hated Football.

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