TalkSport was asking listeners the other day whether they thought Collymore was out of order to react as he did to the crucial goal scored by the team he has always supported and once played for.
Some thought his actions unprofessional. Others applauded his passion.
Now Monsieur Salut would not not be especially pleased to hear him doing the same sort of thing if he is involved in the TalkSport commentary from Villa Park tonight. We’d very much like there to be no cause for Villa celebration at all, of course.
But the heart rules the head in these situations, and while Collymore’s instinctive response was indeed unprofessional, it was excusable because proper football support is a passionate business.
Back in our 15-point relegation season, The Daily Telegraph sports desk had the bright idea of sending me from Paris, where I was living, to report on Sunderland, bottom, versus – on that occasion, too – Chelsea, though unlike now they were top. They paid for everything and fixed me up with a press box pass so that I did not even have to report from my own seat in the East stand.
As a journalist, I knew what would make the better and easier story and it was not David slaying Goliath but the long-suffering Sunderland fan witnessing yet another defeat for his team.
This briefly had me wondering what, deep down, I wanted to happen. We knew pretty much by then that we were gonners. The team was clueless and destined only for one fate at the end of the season. What would one more defeat, preferably an honourable one, matter?
Well the loyalty and passion of the fan triumphed over the convenience of the reporter. Liam Lawrence whacked in an excellent early goal and the home crowd, plus one member of the watching press corps, leapt to acclaim it. Other hacks may have tut-tutted – I heard nothing but wouldn’t have cared anyway – but I was aware of no pompous complaints to stewards, as apparently happened when Stan had his say about the third Villa goal.
Sadly Chelsea came back and made the work bit that much more straightforward by scoring twice to win the game. It meant poor Mick McCarthy’s record as a Premier manager read: LLLLLLLLLLLLLLDWDLLLLLLLLLDLL.
It was the honourable defeat I had wondered about, but a minor victory for self-esteem.
Monsieur Salut, with thanks to TalkSport for permission to use its presenters’ images