Wednesday, 11 August 2010

To boo or not to boo is a terrible question

So today we are off to London to see the match, and last night's late radio and this morning's early radio has ben busy discussing whether to boo the team or not.

First off, I loathe lynch mobs. Others clearly enjoy them. I never will.

Some say they have paid so they have a right to boo. Well if they paid to see the earlier matches before the world cup then they had no reason to boo. Maybe, if they happened to have paid to be in South Africa they were entitled to boo - then. Even so I would not have joined them, not if I had paid twice the sum.

Some think the booing is a punishment. Fine. The booers punishment will be that ever fewer people will want to play for the national team. Why should they? Several have withdrawn already. On this occasion a few young untried players will be playing for the first time. Their first taste of playing for their country will be to be booed or greeted with silence. They didn't play in South Africa and they will not be encouraged to play now. Best get them off on the right foot.

Those players who remain in the team are the main core of the team for the next few years. Perhaps they should be punished by never being invited to play again. So take out Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, Cole and Rooney. Do without them. Then live with it. Gerrard, of course, has said he too would boo if he were in the crowd. Fine, then boo Gerrard. My already low respect for him diminishes by the day, which does not mean he is not an outstanding footballer or that I would not pick him.

And Fabio, of course. The press have turned on him as they do on everyone in the end. They torture, chew, then spit out the managers one by one in rapid succession. The press are only interested in triumph or disaster. Nothing in between is interesting. Second is nowhere, third is even more nowhere. They don't want a 'successful' or 'respected' team. They want World Champions or European Champions. The rest is nothing. Capello was great before South Africa - he is a pathetic dolt now.

The press has always been contemptible, so I'll let that go. Frankly, I think booing is contemptible too. It is also abysmally stupid. People sometimes perform badly. They will not play better for being booed. They never do. They are destroyed or damaged by it. It is a very rare player or person who survives it, David Beckham being the most obvious example.

If booing is what you like doing then you will have plenty of opportunity to get used to it. It's the bed you have made. Lie there. No need to get up. It's a work of art! It's the full Tracy Emin!

The contemptible thing is that those who boo profess to support but actually prefer to indulge in a display of their inflated sense of being 'wronged'. That sense - the sense of entitlement - is one of the most horribly corrupting elements to gnaw away at any psyche, and God knows, the national psyche is in a pretty sick way.

Tonight's experience might well turn out to be more sociological than sporting. It will, I imagine, be interesting to have been there.


James said...

Aye, and this self-same set of players have been up against all this for a while. After 2006.. after the failure to qualify for Euro 2008.. and today. And it's not just booing from the crowd. It's being jeered at Sol Campbell's wedding - it's being confronted when out and about - it's your postbag.

Even before 2006, the attitudes towards Beckham, Lampard, Gerrard etc. were not unlike what we're seeing now. And Owen Hargreaves and Peter Crouch both were booed AT the 2006 World Cup WITHOUT either man putting a foot wrong. What has Michael Owen ever done wrong? Where's his support? Instead, he's a "has-been", a "relic", "made of balsa" etc...

Add to that the fact that the experience England players have of the public is one of constant intrusion - the camera phones, the demands for autographs, the endless attempts to touch and claw, to say nothing of the phone-ins and (gulp) the blogs.

The rewards for decency aren't there. The biggest errors at the World Cup came from the most decent, most intelligent squad members, Green, Upson and Barry.

So, if you're an England player, where is the actual support, of the kind your home club fans give you? That home support, at the Bridge or Upton Park or wherever, is all you get in a now seven-year long chorus of derision.

Whatever else it might look like to me, it doesn't look like a privileged existence. It looks like hell. There's been no real support for England for years. Just fair weather mates, and a gun at the players' heads.

Imagine trying to play a focussed but confident game when you know, from experience, that all this - the press, the jeering, the derision lasting for years - is waiting for you if you slip up. Brazil's players have it nearly as badly - but more of them play abroad, and can get away. But Capello's right - the same fear factor did for Brazil too.

You might as well, as a player, take advantage of the drink, the women. You might as well. And little wonder your house is gated and secure..

(Someone will be along in a minute to tell you that only public schoolboys who aren't also friends, and those other people over there, those mysterious "elites", can behave with "entitlement", but I think the cap fits anyway. And I can't say I envy you your tickets! And sorry for the rant)

George S said...

If tonight is a boo-fest it will, I suppose, give me a closer insight into one aspect of the national character. Not that I didn't know it before but I didn't take it as representative. I don't imagine I'll take it as representative now.

Nevertheless, what's that Cyril Connolly thing about sheep with a nasty side?

Billy C said...

James, as an Englishman, your words made me cringe. Not because you're wrong, but because you're right.

The same goes for George and his analysis of booing. Why? What inner thing inside them drives them to do it? Even the gormless know its counter productive. Perhaps that's the reason; they are gormless: those that do it.

Nicole S said...

If it's any consolation, Graham Taylor (I think it was him) said on the Today programme this morning that the players don't hear the booing once they start playing because they are concentrating so hard. He never struck me as any kind of genius but I hope he is right in this instance.