Tuesday 12 December 2017

Full Kit devotees are letting side down

Former Irish cyclist and former Giro d'Italia winner Stephen Roche
Former Irish cyclist and former Giro d'Italia winner Stephen Roche

Eamonn Sweeney, Jerome Reilly and Seán Ryan

Can we have a moratorium on articles about the immense devotion Irish soccer fans feel towards English teams, Liverpool in particular? Please?

Did we really need to hear all about how some sap displayed his amazing love of the Reds by dressing up in the team gear and shouting a lot at the telly when they played Manchester City, as shown in a 'hilarious' video made by his girlfriend? The term for such individuals is, I'm pleased to note, Full Kit Wankers and there is a fine selection of these unfortunates on the Twitter page of the same name.

The Irish Mirror, on the other hand, treated us to the tale of the Irish Liverpool fan living in Australia who showed his amazing dedication by, wait for this folks, getting up in the middle of the night to watch the games on telly. No mention was made of our hero watching any game in Anfield, though it was revealed that he planned to travel to Liverpool to see the Reds wrap up the league title today. He hoped to watch the game in the pub apparently. Quelle surprise.

I hoped Liverpool would win the title but the one good thing about the team's late collapse is that it should spare us any more articles about it 'being like a dream come true' for some spoofer who chose the team when he was a schoolboy because they seemed to be winning a lot of things.

Following a team from a place you've never lived in by watching them on television doesn't make you a 'great supporter'. It doesn't even make you a real one. And take that bloody shirt off, you look ridiculous.

* * * * *

Cycling legend Stephen Roche is a big boy now – an accomplished media performer who has done a remarkable job promoting this weekend's Irish Grande Partenza of the Giro d'Italia.

So it was with some incredulity that From the Stands noted the former Giro winner's childish reaction to a piece in the Irish Independent based around comments he made at a Giro event in the Glens of Antrim.

Stephen's controversial comments lifted the lid on tensions within the cycling clan that includes Stephen, his son Nicolas, nephew Dan Martin and Dan's dad, Neil, who was also a professional rider and, back in the day, a friend and cycling contemporary of Stephen. Now, in a piece penned by Shane Stokes on the website cyclingtips.com, Stephen backtracked on his comments quoted in our sister paper.

"To be honest with you, it is scandalous. My words were taken totally out of context," he complained.

From the Stands was lucky enough to have a representative among some 25 club cyclists, various Northern Ireland Tourist Board officials and a handful of southern and Northern journalists present for the relaxed post-dinner Q&A with Roche at the Londonderry Arms Hotel in Carnlough and which, of course, was taped. We can report that the Irish Independent article was entirely accurate, both in tone and context.

Anyone can suffer a loosening of the vowels every now and again and regret loose words afterwards, but Stephen's claim that the article quoted him out of context was simply not true. It's the old 'shoot the messenger' mentality writ large.

* * * * *

BARRY CORR, who leads Southend United's attack in today's League Two play-off semi-final at Burton, is a big lad – 6' 3" – who once earned three red cards in a season, but claims that aspect of his game is behind him, even though he was handed two red cards this season.

The difference is he has received apologies for both of this season's offences – in the first case, from the referee; in the second case, from the player who conned the referee. The upshot for Corr, though, is good. He didn't get any suspension and had the first red rescinded, and the three-game ban he suffered after the second red has seen him end the season with five goals in six games.

"Before the suspension, I was playing well, but not scoring enough goals. I was running on empty. I came back feeling much better, and more energetic in the games. Also, watching from the stand gave me a new perspective on my role."

Mick McCarthy had a role to play in the second apology Corr received. "We sent the video to Mick because the player was on loan from Ipswich. The cameras picked up the incident really well and it was embarrassing for the lad, who apologised."



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