Now people will tell you that I’m a fairly argumentative bloke, I prefer to see myself as debat-umentative, but I tend to keep it amongst friends. Rightly or wrongly, my preferred methods of letting strangers know I don’t approve of, or agree with their words or actions are the raise eyebrow, audible tut or the slightly louder than usual aside to whoever I’m stood with.
After all, I’m the bloke who once kept his headphones on for ninety minutes just so he didn’t have to listen to the mindless drivel of the people that sat around him.
I don’t know why Saturday was any different, whether I’d built the emotion of the game up too much in my head, was angry that we couldn’t manage to present a united front for ninety minutes or whether it was just a case of the straw that broke the fat lad’s patience, but the bloke a few rows down from me got a volley. One of those where you don’t really know what you’re going to say before you say it, one of those where you don’t really know what you’ve said after you’ve said it, one of those that probably made no sense whatsoever to either party.
I’ve spoken to people since who’ve looked puzzled when I’ve told them this story, it appears that the boos that rang out around me at the final whistle and the anti-Martinez bile that followed it were reasonably isolated. That the general feeling around the ground was that the lads had played well, worked hard and deserved a pat on the back when they went off. “The referee got booed off, are you sure it wasn’t that?” is the usual response.
I’m sure, I’ve been around football crowds long enough to know that sort of boo and it wasn’t the boos that tripped me over the edge, it was the ‘rah rah Martinez… rah rah clueless… rah rah (you get it)” that followed. I’ve sort of lost the chap in front of me’s point (and wouldn’t share in the interests of not incriminating anyone) but it was something inane like, I don’t know, playing two up front. But it wasn’t what he said that caught my attention, it was how he said it.
The delivery was hate fuelled, bog eyed, blue faced, spit covered & on the verge of a heart attack.
And I suppose that was the trigger, I’ve always been a big one for pointing criticism in the right direction and after watching Latics work hard and play well (and to a different tune), after seeing them try to do something about their defensive failings and, but for the ineptitude of the referee, do more than enough to win the game, after seeing them broken, not buy their own actions but of external forces, I guess I thought they, and their gaffer, deserved a little better.
And so I told him, and got called a fool for my troubles. I doubt my little outburst has made the fellow think once, let alone twice about how his actions might affect the feelings of the team and of other spectators around him, about how maybe people like him are ten times more likely to be the virus that’s ripping through our support than anything that happens on the pitch. If it had then I might be a little bit happier about my actions.
As I said, I’m not proud of what I did, especially considering that I was with my kids (who thankfully remained oblivious). I’d committed to myself to not let these people get to me and there I was being dragged to their level. I should apologise for that, with all our talk of unity recently it would be wrong for me not to. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson, but just in case I’m packing the valium for Sunderland.
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