Monday 11 December 2017

Billy Keane: Sideline mammies veering from insane to ridiculous

Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE
Photo: Piaras O Midheach / SPORTSFILE
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

The Yoga and Transcendental Meditation classes weren't of much help to the mum who went mad on the sideline. All that twisting and sitting still, with mindfulness and mantras, made little if any difference.

There was an online dedicated sports anger management class given by an American who was on death row for making soup out of a referee.

Well it wasn't just the referee, there was carrot and coriander in the soup as well, with just a hint of tarragon. The poor man lost all reason, such was his rage at the awful decisions given against his team in the softball Junior B finals. Indeed, when the police checked his laptop they found the first draft of a recipe book with a working title 'Cooking for Cannibals'.

The soup maker was cured when the lawyers told him his only hope of a pardon was if he gave up his old ways. The condemned man set up a counselling programme for those who lose the head on the edge of the playing area. The man on death row did his very best for the mother who had no sideline self-control 'seeing as she is from the old country.'

The doomed prisoner had many letters of support from GAA fans in Ireland. A Mayo manager, who felt his team was badly wronged in an All-Ireland final against Meath, pleaded for leniency.

He said the soup maker should only be fined a tenner, with a two-match ban, and a warning if he ever did it again he would be in serious trouble.

Said the man on death row: "Love is everywhere about us and when you seek solace in the celestial highway of cosmic calmness, then and only then will you find true serenity in the midst of the fray."

He's dead now. The American justice system took no cognisance of the fact it was a referee he killed and so his pleas for a pardon were summarily rejected. The Kerry Fans Committee, still smarting from the controversial refereeing decisions in the 1982 five-in- a-row All-Ireland final, sent a mass card. A book of condolences was opened in Louth.

The man did not die with dignity. His last words were: "I'm sorry I didn't liquidise the linesmen as well."

She would have been fine if the daughter hadn't begged to be allowed play for the club U-12s. "But I don't know anything about football," insisted her mother.

"I will have to give up my work with Meals on Wheels and the restoration of the roof on the convent owned by The Little Sisters of the Poor Mouth."

Mammy was fine for a while but then she changed into a raging sideline lunatic. How is it normally calm and loving mothers lose all reason on the sideline? Their incursions are more menacing that the Red Army manoeuvres on the borders of Ukraine.


The rage at the ref and the opposition and the absence of logic when it comes to the interpretation of the rules are worthy of a detailed psychological profiling.

I know what's coming next. There will be accusations of gender bias. Men cause more trouble on pitch side. There is no doubt about that. None, but there are a very small percentage of women who are as extreme as any man.

The opposition manager had just moved from training his club senior team to take over the U-16s. There was a local derby against the team from the other side of a narrow dyke that constituted the border between two rival parishes. The game was hot and heavy. The Hollywood Mother was going mad. The opposition manager was passing by on his way to bring a less-than-diligent corner-back to task for failing to foul his man cutely.

The manager had the name of being a bit of a philanderer. Whether the rumour was true or not, I cannot tell, seeing as I was never there at the point of impact. Those who rage on the sidelines pay little if any respect to natural justice or reputation.

The maddened mother let go at the opposition manager. "The only reason you're training the U-16s is because the mothers are younger."

The opposition manager left his errant corner-back to his own counsel after the intervention from the crazed mother and spent the rest of the game coaching the forwards to take five hand passes where one good kick would do.

If it was up to me, the micro-managing coaches are the ones who would be served up as soup de jour.

As for the woman who was prone to sideline rage and wasn't even cured by the man on death row, well she was banned for life for attempting to open an umbrella inside a ref. Her daughter was delighted. The U-12 is a budding writer but she had no miserable childhood to draw on for inspiration, such was the wonderfulness of her mother until she became a GAA mammy.

Her mother was a Eucharistic minister who made lovely dinners for poorly neighbours. She never lost her temper even when the husband came home drunk after an unauthorised session and if an anvil fell on her big toe, she wouldn't express any more than a drat or a jeepers. She was even nice to politicians on the canvass.

"I now know true suffering," said her grateful daughter. "And in time, my mother's sideline insanity will find a home both in memoir and fiction."

Irish Independent

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