Credit: Musa Göncüo?lu
Football fans can be mightily sensitive given their reputation for boisterous irreverence.
Case in point: the recent debate here about the changing face of Stoke City, inspired by Pete Sixsmith’s whimsical article about wishing he could wake up as a supporter of that club and not the one he’s followed for half a century.
Some Stoke supporters thought it a good read and said so.
Others were quick to trash it, as exemplified by “cousindupree” at the Stoke fan site Oatcake: ”a rather baffling mixture of delusion, faint praise and lack of respect to certain players that served them well and of course the usual total misinformed view of the Ramsey saga…so all in all the usual crock of s*** from the wasteland that is the North East.”
For others, the main grievance had less to do with Sixer’s piece than my own introduction, in which I described the booing of Aaron Ramsey’s every touch in Stoke v Arsenal games as “neanderthal hounding”. That remains my view.
I may be a deluded product of the County Durham wasteland, but honestly fail to see where a defence of such behaviour could possibly begin (and nor do I have any time for a Sunderland supporter willing to chant about Adam Johnson being able to “sh– who he wants” – not something I ever heard, though that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen).
But I decided to extend an invitation to one Stoke supporter who believed me to be completely in the wrong in asserting that Ryan Shawcross’s career-threatening challenge on Ramsey was grossly reckless even if, as I have long accepted though others have not, that there was no malice. The YouTube clip is one of the more neutral ones available and was chosen for that reason.
Richard Wright responded with these thoughts:
I don’t condone the booing of Aaron Ramsey by Stoke fans. It is unjustified, as is the booing of Ryan Shawcross by Arsenal fans.
To boo a player who left the field in tears after the Ramsey injury is in very bad taste.
The tackle was at worst mistimed, and was not made with any malicious intention. A foul was made by Bendtner, who pulled Shawcross back as he made the tackle which resulted in a slight delay, and subsequent injury.
The referee said he only decided to send the player off when he saw the injury and Tony Pullis stated they would not appeal out of respect for Aaron Ramsey and Arsenal football club. This respect has never been reciprocated by Arsenal and in my opinion Stoke did Shawcross no favours by not appealing the sending off.
Arsene Wengers comments were inflammatory, and didn’t help the situation,and a mutual dislike has now arisen, with both sides feeling aggrieved.
I would just like to add that the worst tackle made that day was by Cesc Fabregas on Danny Pugh, a tackle that was intended to hurt a fellow professional, and didn’t even receive a caution.
I do not agree with all of that by any means, but reproduce Richard’s words without further comment since I have already had my say.
And to Mark Eltringham, another Stoke supporter who has been furious with this site for five years despite our olive branches: I will review the comments that appeared after your earlier appearances here and delete any that self-evidently stretch beyond banter and robust difference of opinion to the personal abuse you detected.
The issue back then arose over discussion over the style of play adopted by Stoke under Tony Pulis.
Mark may have forgotten that I wrote this at the time: “… the controversy with Mark came after the match, when Sunderland and Stoke fans disagreed on the nature of Stoke City’s – how shall we put it? – combative style of play. Mark, in particular, took exception to the charge of thuggishness levelled at Mr Pulis’s team of misunderstood artists.
“We think he was over-sensitive, but it is true that the discussion did become uncharacteristically aggressive. And the fact remains that Mark’s original answers to our questions presented an excellent read and for that reason alone, though M Salut also admired his dogged defence of his team, he gets our Who are You? feature’s equivalent of the manager-of-the-month award.”