Monday, April 04, 2011

Wayne Rooney and Swearing

Argyleworld has been a bit grim lately so here's a first: a blog entry on Wayne Rooney!

I can't believe the fuss being made about Rooney's most recent lapse in behaviour. He was stupid and offensive but we have come to expect very little different from our footballing heroes in modern times and nobody is a better example of the modern footballer than Wayne Rooney.

It is de riguer for them to lie, cheat and pressurise the referee in any way they can; they will dive, sorry that should read "simulate" in the modern argot; they will steal yards at free kicks and throw-ins; they'll delay the taking of a free-kick; they'll commit any manner of nefarious deeds without so much as a second thought in order to get a result. They'll do all of the things listed with the full support, in most cases, of their clubs and managers, most of their fans and their union and almost nobody bats an eyelid or even half-raises a querulous eyebrow. The days when players like Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore epitomised the highest standards of personal conduct are, with an honourable nod towards Ryan Giggs, disappearing into the rear-view mirror. The idea that players could be acclaimed as role models is history; every player is a Billy Bremner and every manager a Don Revie now and the only people who ever liked them were Leeds fans (funnily enough I can name every player in that classic, infamous, brilliant, reviled Leeds XI immediately from memory: Harvey, Reaney, Cooper, J. Charlton, Hunter, Bremner, Giles, Lorimer, E. Gray, Jones, Clarke). Leeds redefined professionalism for the English game in the modern era.

Which brings me nicely back to swearing. Years ago I remember an England game being shown live on the TV. It was ages ago. So long ago that the commentary sounded like it was coming down a telephine line from the moon and my mind's pictures from the game are, quite literally, in black and white! The game was one of a batch played on a South American tour. The opponents were Argentina. During the game the ball went out of play for a throw-in and Leeds's Trevor Cherry wanted to take the throw. A ballboy was recovering the ball but was a bit tardy: "give me the fucking ball!" said Cherry to the ballboy. Unfortunately for him he was right in front of a camera and right beside a microphone and his actions and words were beamed, as audibly as you like, directly into a million-plus British living rooms. I don't remember him being banned or charged but maybe he was...

Years later a bunch of mates and I were watching Sportsnight. On this occasion they were showing highlights of a League Cup match between Watford and Walsall. Watford were something of a power in the land at the time and Walsall were massive underdogs. The game was a complete thriller and ended up 4-4. What stuck in my mind and caused massive hilarity as we watched the game was a close-up of Trevor Christie who amidst huge excitement had scored a crucial goal and had then sprinted away celebrating. Nothing remarkable in that but as the camera zoomed in on the ecstastic celebrations Christie was ranting wildly, arms aloft and quite clearly effing and blinding his head off!! We were in fits and always referred to him as "Fucking Trevor Fucking Christie" after that evening. Not that we referred to him very often. Perhaps you had to be there...

To give this an Argyle context when I was knee-high to a grasshopper I remember Argyle right back Dave Provan chasing a ball that he failed to keep in play. He was Glaswegian and my young Janner ears would not have been very accustomed to translating Weejie to Janner but I do remember him yelling "you fucking sloat!" I have no idea what a sloat is to this very day.

Back to Rooney... Even he has previous form. Nobody can forget him swearing, audibly to camera once again, in the South African World Cup about the England team being quite deservedly booed by the travelling fans.

So Rooney is a role model? No. Just plain daft. There is a definite schism in his on-pitch persona that makes the notion impossible to take seriously. It is quite valid to acclaim his talent but his approach and behaviour? Let's not be silly. Footballers should not have this "role model"-stuff forced upon them partly because they don't ask for it but mostly because hardly any of them deserve it. The wider truth is that very few of them have ever deserved it at all.