Ridgewell scrapes bottom but we can expect new lows
Published 03/12/2012 | 05:00
Somehow it was quite appropriate that Liam Ridgewell should be pictured squatting above the throne. Truly a bum note but the song has remained the same for some time now.
Should we really be surprised that the circus of the Premier League had not yet exhausted every last millimetre of the toxic sewer with which to appal the decent, ordinary fan?
And yet, for all the admittedly righteous indignation that such a seemingly innocent – if gratuitously distasteful act – might concoct in our brain, the lamentable failure of Ridgewell to use his is arguably the most egregious of his sins.
For the West Brom defender, who has somehow managed to so disdainfully discard the erstwhile cloak of anonymity he once wore as a handsomely paid – £20,000 per week – journeyman pro, has not committed any crime.
His employers are unlikely to see any reason to condemn or punish their employee – such is the yawning gap between the vast conglomerates that now compose the membership of English football's elite and the predominantly pauperised support base.
Where once the supporter and player shared common bonds of class, decency and economy, now only one of those ties remain in reality.
The footballing fraternity now occupy a rarefied air within the realms of their own Olympian excess; a communal existence wherein they remain gated in a community that blackens its windows to any public interaction.
Ridgewell's hubris – to see a supposedly private exchange with a so-called mate so publicly exposed on Twitter – reflects how social media has at once attempted to awkwardly fill that yawning chasm.
It also reminds each and every one of us that what goes on Twitter either stays on Twitter, or is neatly and deftly purloined for future publication somewhere else.
As Irish sport wallowed yesterday in the fine displays of our leading Gaelic footballers and rugby stars, and as we enter into the domestic soccer awards season when our leading home-based professionals will be garlanded with justifiable praise, we should be thankful that Ridgewell's world means little in terms of this nation's choices of sporting deities.
In this country, Ridgewell is, at best, an unthinking late addition to the hastily compiled rosters of a handful of fantasy football line-ups.
Football's millions have not utterly discommoded the generous and genuine personalities of those star multimillionaire performers such as John O'Shea, Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, Richard Dunne, Shay Given and Stephen Hunt.
All of these are proud Irish emigres who have retained their rich heritage in spite of the recidivist attempts of a demoralising moral vacuum that so regularly seeks to utterly infect decency and honour at every turn.
In a week when Chelsea's utterly disenfranchised supporters still fail to realise that they have no voice and no act or part to play within the vast Xanadu designed by Roman Abramovich, Ridgewell's actions are only shocking to those who remain ignorant of modern English football. They are probably happier people, all told.
That his weekly pay packet equals the average industrial wage of those in the west midlands base of West Brom – at least those who are lucky enough to still receive one – reminds us that it is nigh on impossible to conceive of a time when footballers can ever again be role models.
Whether they can ever qualify to be one is equally dubious.
After all, how can one realistically expect – or demand – such responsibility of someone who, were it not for their footballing ability, would never be in a position to shower his commode space with £1,000 in £20 notes?
It is a situation – as young Liverpool starlet Raheem Sterling prepares to engorge himself on a new £60,000 weekly wage before he is legally entitled to drink or vote – that seems unlikely to change in the near future.
The surprising thing is that so many people are still surprised.
Ridgewell thought he was literally scraping the bottom.
The rest of his profession undoubtedly cannot wait to prove that there is still a fair distance to travel yet.
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