By Bulldog Drummond
I must admit that I have never once understood how people at Stoke City can boo Aaron Ramsey for “getting himself injured” as I have heard some of them put it.
It is something so incomprehensible to me that I can only continue to see those Stoke City supporters who engage in this behaviour as so utterly primitive in their thinking and behaviour that they really have not progressed since the Paleolithic Era. I suspect that after games they go to caves and ponder once more the whole notion of rubbing sticks together to make fire.
I am of course quite sure that this is just my failing and that others more versed in understanding human behaviour than I, are able to explain how a significant number (I am sure a minority but still a significant number) of 25,000 or so home supporters continue to indulge in this behaviour.
As the Guardian said in its headline in 2010, “The ludicrous reaction to Aaron Ramsey’s injury offered yet more proof that football exists in a bizarre little bubble.”
Live TV said at the time “we’ve decided not to show you the replay because it is too distressing” although by Match of the Day they were off showing it in slow motion and the papers the next day ran through it frame by frame.
And then it started. The defence of Ryan Shawcross, sickeningly given, day after day after day. He was picked for England – showing me enough about England as a football team to taint my view forever more.
According to the press, Fabio Capello delayed his England squad announcement by 40 minutes to decide whether Ryan Shawcross, picked for his country for the first time, should retain his place in light of the Stoke centre-half’s horrific tackle on Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey at the Britannia Stadium. And then he decided he could. So 40 minutes. That is what a potentially career ending assault is worth.
And from then on the response was, “he’s not that kind of player!” even though he broke Francis Jeffers’s ankle in 2007; seriously injured Emmanuel Adebayor the season before he did in Ramsey, (and that was when Adebayor was actually off the pitch at the time, as was the ball). And then a whole series of similar appalling assaults in reserve team games came to light on blog videos.
If football existed in the real world, for that kind of assault and with that kind of record you go to prison. Indeed a week after the Shawcross outrage a Sunday league player Mark Chapman was given six months for assault when he broke a player’s leg in a Sunday League game.
And in response to all this Stoke City supporters boo Ramsey, which to me puts them totally and utterly beyond the pale of civilised society. Of course not all of them engage in this behaviour and I am sure there are many that do not, and there are many that are disgusted by the action of fellow supporters.
But the fact is that it goes on and Stoke City has done nothing to stop it. Show it on TV and the commentators just take it as something that happens. And maybe that is what our world does today – there are so many atrocities and outrages that everything is just accepted as part of the show.
Except no, not for me. Maybe I am on my own in this, but not for me. The tackle was a disgrace in my mind and the player should have been banned for a long time, but irrespective of all that, booing Ramsey by the Stoke fans is a matter so disgraceful and disgusting that it should have been stopped even if it meant closing the ground.
I have even heard people say, “but how do you stop it?” Well, many years ago, Arsenal fans would regularly use the word “Yid” in a song about Tottenham supporters. And quite rightly Arsenal FC decided they had to take action. Action was announced, and the vast majority of supporters, the people who go along because we support the team, but also try to act in a decent civilised way, supported that action.
Yes there are still a few who use that word at the end of the “What do you think of Tottenham” chant but the number is much, much smaller than before, because people in the ground felt this was taking “banter” far, far to far. Stoke could have taken action like that, but they chose not to. They accepted it, and thought it reasonable and acceptable and not worth doing anything serious about. Let’s boo the guy who got his leg horrifically broken by one of our players. Jolly good show.
That puts Stoke City outside of the bounds of decent society. They are the club of the Stone Age.
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