Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Just Desserts?

As some of you may know I write a short weekly piece for the print edition of the Carlisle Evening News & Star under the hackneyed moniker 'Blue in Exile'. I wanted to share this week's piece more widely as I felt the theme was more universal. This is it...

Before I move on to Carlisle this week, I’d like to spare a thought on Plymouth. On Sunday afternoon they sacked their beleaguered manager Peter Reid after an early season run saw them to the bottom of the table.  This is the same Peter Reid who has had to shed 40 players from his staff over the last 18 months in football’s hottest seat.  The same man who, after repeated board room promises that a takeover was in the offing, sold some of his own football memorabilia to ensure that those office and ground staff living on a working wage could put food on the table. His reward? Being sacked by the classless oaf Peter Ridsdale.

Over the years, I’ve come to expect little from a sport that can install the man who oversaw, and was untouched by, its worst disaster – Dave Richards of Sheffield Wednesday – to its highest position as Chairman of the Premier League. But the taste left by a serial meddler like Ridsdale pulling off such a charm free act is particularly sour.

So where do Carlisle fit in? Well, this Saturday our fans showed their complicity in the whole charade with a piteous and fickle tirade at a beleaguered manager.  Before readers clamber atop their soapboxes I must first say this – everyone is entitled to voice an opinion and right now, to stand at the back of the b2net Stadium, or Brunton Park for that matter, and holler ‘Abbott Out’ seems a perfectly valid act.  I’m of a sensibility where seeing fans of any colour turn on their manager makes me pall. But if you’re a reader doing that, go on, it’s your right to be heard.

What really grated about Saturday’s rough and raucous post game bawling, though, was that its source was the same as that was singing altogether different songs in the first half.  The chorus with their drum seemed happy to lead a stirring chant of ‘Yellows’ as the team went one down, to belt out ‘Greggy Abbott’s Blue and White Army’ after Miller’s stabbed leveller. Forgive me for shaking my head at the two-faced nature of that.

Forgive me too for feeling contempt for those calling Greg Abbott’s failure to wave to the fans ‘the final straw’. These are the same people who demand burning passion in the representatives of their club, yet fail to see a man bursting with wounded pride unable to face the shame of being booed by those people he is paid to entertain.  The same man who spent 15 minutes apologising to a 15 year old fan who’d stayed behind post-match to meet his fallen heroes.

This isn’t to say I’m pure – my years supporting Carlisle have been pocked with as much badmouthing as the best; I’m complicit. But that doesn’t stop it grating – this necessity of fandom to dash one’s own team.  Next time you’re wound up by the Ridsdales and Richards of this world, wound up by the ill-informed commentariat or even just irked by Abbott’s own in-interview arrogance perhaps it’d pay to pause a moment and think about yourself – what is all this mess that is modern football, if not our own fault?  We get what we deserve.


  1. Good use of the English language as per usual. Content garbage, again as usual. Why not use your writing talent in a less offensive way?

  2. Lubo Michalik's missing bollocks21 September 2011 at 03:51

    Just suggests to me that even those who genuinely want to go and try to support the team vocally, are finding it hard to stay positive in the face of what's being offered up.

  3. Steven

    Sorry you find it offensive, but can see why. Just a difference of opinion. I'd write novels but I have no imagination!


    I think you're right there. I wasn't exactly bawling support myself.

  4. My favourite thing about your blogs is definitely your do as I say not as I do attitude.
    Please tell me you don't make a living writing?

  5. Absolute garbage.

  6. Darren

    I think there is an element of that, for sure. But what I was really trying to say is 'hey, when football turns shit, is it all our own fault?'. I don't think there's a conclusive answer to that.

    I don't make a living writing, no. Though if I really do write 'do as I say' columns I'm sure I could get a post at the Daily Mail...

  7. Paul Floyd(kidneyblue)22 September 2011 at 22:56

    Think you have it right myself John.
    It amazes me how people go on about about opinions,but then slate others when they have a differing opinion,with sentences such as "Do as I say,not as I do"
    And rather than just saying that,then insult you.
    Why do these people have to insult others.

  8. Deleting blog comments now. Grow up!

  9. Haven't deleted any comments at all Steven. If it hasn't come through feel free to post again.