Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Alan Green: Obscene rants have no place in our game

Do you remember the days when supporters, however passionate they were about their own team, generally restricted any taunting of opponents to the good-natured variety?

Or, am I being naïve?

Whatever, that's certainly no longer the case.

Supporters of both clubs will deny it but one of the reasons I dread matches between Liverpool and Manchester United, wherever they're played, are the sickening songs about 'Hillsborough' and 'Munich'.

Football really can push entirely normal people to extremes.

Now Newcastle fans are usually of the most amenable sort. Though they've got to put up with the regular under-performing of a club they expect to win trophies, they're as couched in good humour as they are in those black and white shirts.

So why those appalling racist chants at Middlesbrough's Egyptian striker Mido?

And let's not have any nonsense about it being just harmless fun.

Calling someone a 'paedo' and a 'bomber' isn't funny in anyone's language.

I was watching mute television pictures of the game while I was at Old Trafford waiting for the Spurs' match and assumed Mido was way over the top with his 'shushing' gestures.

I was wrong and the only joke in the circumstances was that the player was booked.

So the FA is holding an enquiry. Why?

Isn't it already obvious what went on?

The only question surely is deciding what punishment they can inflict and that, I accept, is difficult.

How can Newcastle be blamed when it didn't happen at St James Park?

And, if you were to think of banning Newcastle fans from away games, you'd be financially punishing the other clubs involved.

I don't have an answer.

And I worry about what might happen to the Oldham player Lee Hughes in the coming weeks.

I have no sympathy for what he did three years ago, causing death by dangerous driving and then running away from the scene.

I might think, as many do, that his punishment wasn't severe enough, but the law took its course and Hughes served his time.

Though, and he admits as such, he will live with what he's done for the rest of his life, he has every right to try to rebuild his career as a footballer.

What, should we prefer him to have an anonymous job on a building site or as a postman rather than doing what he knows best?

That's not our right, it's his, but I dread what opposing fans have in store for him.

If I go to a game as a 'fan' and I really dislike what or whom I'm seeing, I never yell abuse.

My silence is as much condemnation as I care to muster and I frequently despise some of the things I hear shouted around me.

Wouldn't we live in a far better football world if others followed the example of Goodison Park and Anfield this last week in their wonderful tributes after that shocking murder on Merseyside?

Yes, many Everton and Liverpool fans in recent years have gone far too far in their bitterness towards each other but I know of no other city that can unite so magnificently in common grief.

Crocked Becks still rules roost

SO much for the "peak condition" claims by his spokesman.

David Beckham's latest injury will keep him out of England's critical European Championship qualifiers over the next ten days.

Anyone could see it coming even if he didn't.

All medical advice pointed to an increased risk of injury while undertaking that ludicrous transatlantic schedule in pursuit of a hundred England caps.

What gets me is the response of the people supposedly 'in charge'.

Steve McClaren explained that the reason Beckham played the whole game against Germany was that "Beckham wanted the minutes".

So, he's back running the England team, is he?

And Frank Yallop, the lame duck coach of LA Galaxy, said he picked the player against Chivas barely 30 hours later because "Beckham wanted to play".

It beggars belief, doesn't it?

At least, we should all be relieved that Beckham says he'll be better prepared for the European Championship than anyone playing in the Premier League.

Yes, sure, if you say so and IF England, Beckham or not, qualify.

Crouch is only fourth choice at best for Pool

PETER Crouch reckons his goal against Toulouse the other night is a clear sign to Rafa Benitez that the England striker should be in the Liverpool starting eleven.

Sadly, for Crouch, I think it's to the contrary.

He should have had a bucketful of goals in that Champions League qualifier, certainly a hat-trick before half-time, and Fernando Torres, sitting on the bench, must have regretted that he didn't get the chance to come on.

What with Andrij Voronin and Dirk Kuyt as well, Benitez has four top class strikers to call on.

At least two will be disappointed every single game and Crouch, perhaps sensing he's 'fourth pick' at the moment, is the first to have had a little moan at the coach.

While Liverpool are doing well, Benitez knows he's doing 'his' job properly and the players - arguably the manager has two good choices for every position except goalkeeper - must get on with it.

I don't know if Benitez has a 'first choice' striker pairing yet. Mine would be Torres and Kuyt and I'd pick Benayoun ahead of Pennant . . . but what would I know?

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