Saturday’s relatively uninspiring game has been largely overshadowed by all the talk of the ‘abuse’ Lampard and Terry suffered at the hands of us devilish Irons. So let’s talk about it a bit more.
For anyone who missed it, the ‘attack’ was two-pronged:
JT suffered a simple yet effective “John Terry, your mum’s a thief”.
Meanwhile, Frank was on the receiving end of “Lampard, you let your children down”.
As chants go, they’re unlikely to win any prizes for originality, complexity or even humour but, the real question is: did they, as Terry suggests, “cross the line”?
I don’t think so. Being exposed to chants from opposing fans is part and parcel of the game. Always has been. Always will be.
That’s not to say that there should be an “anything goes” policy. Players should not be subject to racism, threats of violence, or objects thrown from the stands. But it’s not golf, is it? When you’re playing in front of 35,000 opposing fans you can’t expect them to politely clap your every touch.
The best players don’t block it out, they actively thrive on it. Ronaldo has boasted how he loves being booed as it spurs him on to perform at his best level. Surely this has to be better than playing in near silence. Just as a great game makes for a great atmosphere, a great atmosphere also makes for a great game. When was the last time you saw a classic at the Riverside Stadium?
I don’t have any real objection to players giving a little bit of abuse back, but they are walking a perilous path. The potential for inciting crowd trouble is huge. They need to be a touch more responsible than your common man and think about the consequences of their actions. Sure, this makes it a slightly unequal and unfair player/fan relationship but that’s one of the (few) drawbacks that comes with being in the spotlight. You don’t hear players moaning about how unfair it is that they get paid five times the average annual salary in a week for training a few hours a day.
Footballers are celebrities and need to learn that sometimes this can be a burden. Either that or they could just stump up the cash for their mum’s Whiskas and none of this would ever have happened.