The John Terry case: good day for Chelsea, bad one for football

Pete looks on in disbelief at Wolves

At another place, Monsieur Salut wrote yesterday that he disliked John Terry, detested racism, loathed yob culture wherever it manifested itself (including Loftus Road) … but thought the case as brought against Terry was idiotic and should have been dealt with by the FA, which might have been less ready to give benefit of the doubt. Pete Sixsmith takes the argument further, with subtle differences …


After three weeks
spent marking GCSE History papers, I have emerged from the cocoon of assessing the average 16-year-old’s knowledge of The Berlin Airlift, the Munich Conference and whether the main reason for the failure of the League of Nations to solve the Abyssinian Crisis was the fault of Britain and France or the USA, into the fantasy world that is Premier League football.

As I perused the grumblings on the message boards about the lack of MON to recruit anyone (it seems anyone will do and that a carefully thought out approach to signing players is not acceptable to some of these serial moaners), wondered about the real reasons for the demise of Good ol’ Arry and looked in disbelief at the hole that is being dug for Scottish football, I began to have serious doubts about whether I really wanted to immerse myself in top level football for the foreseeable future.

The events of yesterday, when John Terry was acquitted, did nothing to make me change my mind.

On balance, the magistrate was probably correct to throw out the charges. He gave Terry the benefit of the doubt as to whether he was repeating or insulting. Had Anton Ferdinand heard it at first hand and then reported it, I have no doubt that Terry would have been successfully prosecuted and that his career would have been over. As it is, he remains “Captain, Leader, Legend” for the non-discerning Chelsea fans. They are welcome to him.

I don’t like Terry and I find him the epitome of the arrogant PL footballer. He suits Chelsea perfectly; no regard for tradition, brash, full of money and ego and not liked outside his own midden. He played well in the Euros, but purely as a determined, gritty, English centre half, the type we hoped that Michael Turner would have developed into, but without the personality traits that make Terry such an unloved figure.

What really depressed me was the level of insult that the two men exchanged. It reminded me so much of the times I had to intervene in classroom situations where slowly maturing 15-year-old boys were having “issues” with one another. The f and c words would be used, as would the delightful “knobhead”. Sign language would be used and personal comments would be made about clothes, breath and family. It could be settled after they had been separated, but there would be a simmering atmosphere for weeks afterwards.

And that is what happened at Loftus Road in November last year. Two overgrown schoolboys, one who had laughed at US citizens the day after 9/11 and the other who had fabricated a story about his grandmother that even the dimmest 15 year old would have rejected as unbelievable, stood there insulting one another in the middle of an intense PL game in front of millions of viewers.

Of course sledging has always been a part of sport. I would imagine that in the 1890s Ernie Shufflebottom of Blackburn Rovers said of Geordie Lumsdon of Sunderland that his mother did not black her steps properly and that his wife showed too much of her petticoats. The two of them would push and shove and Geordie would bear a grudge against Ernie for the rest of his career and, when retired, would refuse to serve him in his newly acquired tobacconists shop.

But this one took a nasty turn when Terry inserted the word “black” in the phrase that he was repeating to Ferdinand. Terry’s assertion that there was a question mark at the end of the phrase was the one that the Magistrate accepted, although I wonder if he really believed it.

The use of the word “black” is, in my view, racist. Call him a f c if you like (hardly Oscar Wilde is it), but insert the word black and you are making a reference to the colour of his skin and that is a very sensitive issue. People are killed because of the colour of their skin, and that makes the use of the word black a racist term.

Here in the North East, we have problems with racism. Darren Bent must have felt uncomfortable at Sunderland after his mother was abused at Wigan. Black players at Newcastle have been abused by the twitterati, while there have been concerted attacks on businesses owned by non-whites.

One of the saddest comments on this was by a former student on Facebook ( an intelligent young woman, although living in a community that has a strong BNP presence), who said that she was glad it was all over but that if it had been the other way round nothing would have happened. The racism in that statement is implied rather than obvious, but is in some ways worse.

The Ebac Northern League is attempting to control the flow of bad language that flows from players on the field. League Chairman Mike Amos is implementing a scheme where clubs will be cited by crowd members if their management or players are responsible for a stream of obscenities. He believes, with some justification, that obscene language prevents families from attending games. It is easier to hear the Ferdinand/Terry words at Dean Street, Shildon than it is at The Stadium of Light, Sunderland. He must despair after this airing of football’s dirty linen.

Where do we go from here? That is for those better qualified than me to decide. But I do know that I will not be going anywhere near Stamford Bridge or Loftus Road in the coming season, and there may well be a few other grounds that will not see me between August and May. It’s all becoming a bit too much.

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10 thoughts on “The John Terry case: good day for Chelsea, bad one for football”

  1. Like most I am no fan of John Terry but given what I have read the magistrate probably came to the right decision. Driven by the media we all end up devoting far too much time to this sad event and others like it. We end up thinking that all or at least many footballers behave and think like Terry and Ferdinand. Many do a lot of good but it goes mostly unseen. I am sure sledging does and has always gone on – cameras and microphones just happen to catch it now. Peter I respect your views but don’t stop watching SAFC because of what others do or say – stop because SAFC gives you cause to do so. I never go to a match, home or away, to watch the other team.Let the football begin then we will all have something to focus on again.

  2. Racism and a play on words to hide it I have seen and have learned to hate, but what is rasicm? It is perceived hatred, and if the hatred doesn’t exist and it is just an outburst or emotional safety valve is it rasicm. Rio Ferdinand calls Ashley Cole a Choc ice but because the perception is a blackman can not be racist to another blackman it is not seen as racism.The word black can never be racist and the other words are simply offensive. Living in Africa Ferdinand would not be classified as black he simply isn’t African and does not have black skin in the African context.If as has happened Ricky Ponting calls someone a Pomme Ba*****d is that racist? Yes but few see it as such or find it offensive is this not exactly the same. There are some very derogatory phrases for black people which are now not used, as their utterance can not be taken in any other context than racist they are not open to interpretation and in many instances are criminal. John Terry can not be proud of what he did or said but it was just an emotional outburst after he was insulted by Anton Ferdinand. I have seen racism and always deplored it. This was not that because it was not used with hatred or a wanting to harm and degrade. What Suarez said was a great deal worse, but not seen as bad because it was in spanish and it was said that is how spanish people talk. What nonesense!!!!! I am very please this incident is over it was given far more attention than it deserved and I am happy the judge seen it for what it was, now what will the FA say?

  3. There’s enough to dislike about Terry without any official confirmation or refutation that he might be racist. I’ve not seen this video clip and have no real desire to view it either. There’s nothing good come out of this whole regrettable situation whatsoever, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one who is sick and tired of this saga..

    I’m with Steve. I detest the bloke with a passion for all of the reasons that Pete has referred to in the article. Good to see QPR fans coming to the site.

      • Wasn’t trying to make a personal attack or anything Steve. Like i said it was no defence of him and I am wasn’t trying to judge or patronise, or question your morals or anything.

        Juat feel that lynching him, when nobody had any evidence that contradicted his version of events, brings people (us) down to displaying the levels of the accused behaviour of the guy himself.

        I was expecting a lot more dislikes to my comment but I stand by the rationality behind it. I’m sure Q.P.R pinching all of the best players around will make you happy anyway. 😉

  4. Steve, I’m afraid that disagree with your analysis that Terry is ‘spitting and snarling’ as he says the said words. As much as you may hate the guy, that is fabrication; if an understandable bias reflection. I am no fan of Terry and am frustrated as anybody by his behaviour and the outcome of this pantomime, but the fact of the matter is nobody has actually heard what he said; nobody is questioning his version of events and the contextual situation of his utterance.

    Dislike somebody and their principles all you like but, rightly or wrongly, it is just as bad to distort the the presented facts for effect, or to fabricate actual events to achieve self-desired clarification. As it is to deliberately fail to distinguish context as being appropriate because of how you feel justice should present itself in its true form.

    If you were to say something to somebody in the street or a pub, but to then have the context of it argued and questioned by people who don’t actually know any different, then it your right to confront them and challenge their opinion on what your intentions or reasoning is behind what it is you said.

    This is no defence of John Terry; his morality and abuse of his powers are disgrace. Unfortunately, creating a witch hunt and jumping on the inevitable anti-Terry bandwagon is just as inexcusable, and is nothing more than a frustration-bulit, angry mob mentality.

    It is the reflection our right to exist in a democracy that this correct verdict was given. Pete is 100% right in stating this is a deterrent from enjoying football. I, like everyone else, hope that something will manifest itself that will result in John Terry’s downfall. This was never going to be it though and we all need to consider the effect that dramatisation has had in all of this.

    • I understand what you’re saying Goldy, and, OK, I own up, I detest JT, he’s typical of Peter’s ‘arrogant PL footballer’ (sorry for misquoting earlier)… but I think I’m pretty good at assessing behaviour and non-verbal communication…
      When I saw the recording of JT, his facial expression wasn’t questioning, it was the face of someone abusing someone else… and, as I’ve accepted, there was nothing good about Ferdinand’s verbal abuse either; it looks like it had been a gradual building up and trading of insults, as the author suggests, schoolboy playground behaviour…
      Even the magistrate states that the evidence isn’t clear enough, which was why he couldn’t convict Terry, and that’s only the legal position, not the reality…
      When QPR and Chelsea meet on 15th September, the Chelsea fans will no doubt chant “We know what you are” at Ferdinand, as they have already done last season, and Rangers fans will chant “We know what you said” at Terry, as they had already done last season, and it will be interesting to see if players shake hands… this situation has fomented already existing club rivalry (hatred in some), and it wont be nice…
      Cheers!

  5. Well said, Pete (and well done, Mike Amos). You’re right that, in many ways, implied racism can be worse than the overt kind. At least with that, you know what you’re deaing with.
    Sooner or later, someone inevitably says, “I’m not a racist but…” and that “but” alone speaks volumes. Or they castigate people for being too “PC,” with the rationale that you should be allowed to say what you like about who you like as long as you don’t mean it maliciously. Which, below the surface, it almost always is.
    This has no place in football, the more so because of the multi-racial nature of the game today.
    On a more football-oriented note, I see Radio Newcastle is quoting O’Neill as saying he’d like to have his new players “in place a little bit before the season starts.” That gives him another month to pick and choose. Let him do it in his own time.

  6. I can only agree, Colin, and I agree that it wasn’t only JT who was in the wrong, and the name calling from both is childish, until the racist element comes into it, though…
    JT and his pals had realised how close he was to getting in trouble as early as immediately after the match finished, he asked Ferdinand if he had a problem about it, but Ferdinand hadn’t heard JT say what he did, apparently.
    The JT legal team then got the case put off for 5 months, when the likes of either of us would have been prosecuted within a month, so that he could play for England, as he was obviously aware he was guilty. His legal team then tried to get the evidence of a lip reading ‘expert’ ruled as not allowable, when they lost that, they got in their own ‘expert’ to say what they wanted in their defence.
    Looking at the video of the event, and there is nowhere near evidence that he’s asking a ‘question’, thus no question mark at the end of the sentence, he is snarling and spitting out what he’s saying in anger…
    Because of financial and work constraints I’ll not be at many matches this coming season, sadly, but the 2 matches between Chelsea and QPR should be matches for all to avoid, as they will be even hotter events than usual.
    The two groups of supporters hate each other already, and this will only make it worse. I’ve had a friend hit by a coin thrown at us by Chelsea ‘fans’ after they beat us 1-0 in the FA Cup a few years ago, and last year a mate was attacked by Chelsea ‘fans’ and beaten up after we beat them last season.
    It’s a sad indictment of football, arrogant PL footballers, as you say, and followers of the two clubs. I’m disgusted with what has come out about Ferdinand and his part in the matter, I can’t say how much I dislike JT, and I’m, frankly, worried that racist language has been allowed into professional football, thanks to this decision, despite a campaign to ‘kick it out’ of football.
    Good luck to you Mackems next season, and, hopefully, us Rangers can put this behind us now and cement our place in the Premier League.
    Cheers!

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