Chris Lakey: Football shouldn’t punish proper shows of emotion
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
You know that bit when a player rips off his shirt to celebrate a goal?
Or the bit where a player might just jump in among his own fans to celebrate a goal or a win?
Or when a manager, having been cursed by his own fans from here to kingdom come, sees his team score in arguably the biggest game of his season and actually has the affront to tell them to go forth and multiply?
That bit as well.
All are 'offences', for want of a much better description. Players and managers are liable to get pulled up before the FA beak to explain their shows of emotion.
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Football in a game in which few goals are scored which means there are few real chances to take the lid off and blow all the steam out of the top of your had. Fans make up for that in between the goals by bursting into song and, quite often, slinging some mud around - maybe abuse towards opposing fans or, if they're feeling that way inclined, towards their own manager.
Yet real emotion by the people who actually create it – players and managers – is frowned upon.
Why is taking your shirt off worthy of a booking? Can anyone explain what is so wrong with it? Jumping into your own fans? Are these actions supposedly going to incite opposition fans? That's the only reason I can think of.
And then there's McCarthy-ism: the act of getting a little bit of afters in with your own supporters, just as he did at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Poor old Mick has a rough time with that lot – the fans are deserting him at Portman Road (13,000 crowds are shameful, really – did they take Mick's advice?). And then he comes to Carrow Road for a game he must not lose, his team take a late lead through the divine hair-do that is Luke Chambers, and when MM celebrates by jumping out of his dug-out giving them some sage advice sprinkled with an obscenity or two, he is in trouble.
Amazing how footy fans get away with it for 90 minutes: presumably calling your manager all sorts of things during a game is not an offence in any shape or form? It won't get you turfed out of the ground or banned from matches by the FA. But the first time a manager responds, he's in the mire. Isn't about time the authorities were told to man up?
I don't usually have much sympathy for McCarthy* but in this case he is absolutely right, and his 'apology' (more an explanation) was spot on.
'It was a big moment for us, coming so late in the game. You can get carried away in situations like that,' he said. 'To be honest I forgot the cameras were there and can capture every word now. You don't think about that during the game. For those who were offended by my language, I apologise. I'd like to reiterate though that my comments were not aimed at anyone. It was just a reaction to the goal and what it meant at that time.'
In retrospect, for City fans it has been hilarious, helped by the joy of Timm Klose grabbing an equaliser right at the very death.
His celebration was not that extravagant - it's a centre half's thing I suggest - but all was well behaved. Daniel Farke didn't feel the need to swear but if he had no one would have minded that much.
Chambers was bitter saying City players celebrated 'like they'd won the cup'. Not that he didn't celebrate his goal of course...
Please don't take some of the joy and emotion out of football. Goodness knows we need it. Crowds have never in my experience been quieter and while I cannot take away the commitment of many City fans, the truth is Carrow Road can be exceptionally quiet on a regular (non derby) match day.
Don't kill off what we have left by making players and managers fearful of an act that might get them into trouble.
*Mick McCarthy admitted before the game that James Maddison was City's dangerman, but there was no need for Town players to chop him down at every opportunity.
They either came up with this as a good idea themselves, or were instructed to by their manager. Whatever, stopping a player by fair means is fine; by foul means it isn't. Town would probably be happy never to see Maddison again, but if we kick these talented footballers for 90 minutes it's going to be a rubbish game.