Shame of Pride Park

Pride Park Copyright Chris J Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
Pride Park

As a Forest fan I was deeply disappointed by their heartbreaking injury time defeat in last night’s East Midlands derby at Pride Park.

As a football fan and a human being I was angry when I heard about the sick chants being sung by a section of the Derby fans.

Jake Buxton stooped low to head in Derby’s late winner but not nearly as low as the Derby fans who were singing ‘where’s your chairman gone’ and ‘You’re going down with your chairman’ to the travelling Reds supporters. It shows what can happen to weak people when sick mob mentality takes over.

It made me wonder where do you draw the line with so called banter?

Doughty found dead last month

To quickly fill people in who don’t know, former forest chairman, Nigel Doughty, saved the club from going under a decade ago and has paid £1million per month on average into the club ever since.

He was found dead in his gym at his home just over a month ago aged just 54.

If Derby had been taunting Forest fans by singing that Forest were going down or that manager Steve Cotterill was getting sacked in the morning we would have found it annoying but taken it on the chin as par for the course football banter.

But this wasn’t banter. The Derby fans who were reveling in the man’s death and taunting Forest fans about it are beneath contempt.

While it was shocking it was sadly not surprising because this has been a season that has shamed football.

Racist chanting

Earlier in the season a section of Forest fans let the majority of us down when we played a cup game against Leicester, a city with a large Asian population. They were singing ‘You’re not English anymore’ to the Leicester fans.

I found it deeply shameful and it made me think that ordinary Millwall or Leeds fans probably feel like this all the time!

But the Forest fans aren’t always like that. In fact, it’s the first time I’ve heard of such an incident in all my years as a fan. They were jumping on a racism bandwagon that got moving following high profile cases involving John Terry and Luis Suarez.

Both players denied racially abusing an opponent but Suarez was found guilty and suspended for eight games and Terry was stripped of the England captaincy and is still awaiting trial.

Racist undercurrent

Only they will ever know how their words were truly intended but the cases have pandered to a minority who have a racist undercurrent. They thought that if high profile players were using racism, then they too would like to express their racism at matches. The incidents didn’t create racists but they encouraged them to come out of their shells.

Thankfully that particular bandwagon seems to have ground to a halt just as soon as it started rolling. It seems that the decent majority are not prepared to let racism creep back into the game.

Sections of both Chelsea and Liverpool fans had let their sides down following the two incidents. Chelsea fans disgracefully sang ‘Anton Ferdinand, you know what you are’ while one Liverpool fan was caught on camera making a monkey gesture at a black opponent.

Liverpool handle it poorly

Luis Suarez Copyright Badudoy and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 3
Luis Suarez

It is widely regarded that Liverpool FC dealt with the matter very poorly. Wearing t-shirts in support of a teammate facing racism allegations may have had the right intentions but it didn’t look like a great way to represent the club. But worse was manager Kenny Dalglish’s attitude to the situation.

He seemed to think that nobody had any right to ask questions about or discuss the matter and that it was actually Liverpool who were the victims and should be left alone.

Its one thing to try to bond the squad by creating a siege mentality but when it is the alleged actions of one of your own players that has caused all the negative attention you can see why everybody might not be so inclined to pull the same way – some may have felt slightly embarrassed to do so which would not have helped team spirit.

The more Liverpool’s players, fans and manager dragged their reputation through the mud, the more people thought they were ‘outraged by everything, ashamed of nothing’

Alan Hansen gaff

Liverpool legend and respected pundit, Alan Hansen managed to put his foot in it when he talked about the issue. He spoke in glowing terms about black footballers and how they have added to and improved the English game since he was a player. The only problem was that instead of using the word ‘black’ he kept referring to back players as ‘coloured players’

It is incredible that in all his long career in football and television that no one had ever told him that ‘coloured’ is an outdated and rather offensive term.

He is clearly not racist, anybody who has watched him over the years knows that he gives out praise and criticism based on merit and nothing else. Maybe it was his clumsy way of trying to demonstrate how easy it is to inadvertently cause offence when you come from another time or culture. This was Suarez’s only line of defence after all.

Manchester united were rightly upset by Liverpool’s treatment of Patrice Evra – they practically came out and called him a liar – but their fans are hardly innocent victims either.

Manchester United and Leeds fans

Whenever United play against another of their fierce rivals, Leeds, the sick elements of both sets of fans come out in force. Leeds fans sing songs in celebration of the Munich air disaster while United sing about Istanbul, where two Leeds fans were stabbed and killed by Turkish thugs after a European game in 2000.

Which brings us back to the Derby fans who last night joined the ranks of such mindless idiots, celebrating the death of another human being and fellow football lover. And how far is too far?

Everybody will have a slightly different opinion on that as some people are easier to offend than others. But even in the heat of battle against your fiercest rivals, racist chanting and mocking the dead is way beyond the boundaries for all but the most disgraceful of people.

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