Tuesday 20 February 2018

Supporters' contract doesn't include abuse

Eamonn Sweeney

I have endured terrible things as a supporter. I have seen Sligo Rovers lose 8-1, 6-1 and 5-0 at home. I have seen Mayo and Galway beat Sligo footballers by margins which these days would be outlawed under animal cruelty legislation. I have even seen St Mary's put eight goals past Eastern Harps in a county senior football final.

And I never booed my own team. Not once. Not because I'm a fantastic human being or a great supporter or anything like that. It's just something, like touching the tip of my nose with my tongue or enjoying EastEnders, that I can't do. It seems to me to fly in the face of the contract you enter into when you support a team which is to stick with them for better or for worse, through thick and thin. Maybe being from Sligo has something to do with that. Because being a sunshine supporter in Sligo is a bit like developing a taste for champagne when you're on the dole.

That's why I was pleased to see Mick McCarthy giving short shrift to suggestions that Wolves' comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Swansea City had been spurred on by sections of the Molineux crowd who'd got on the players' backs. Nope, said Mick. They're just idiots, the credit belongs with me and the players, that kind of stuff doesn't spur anyone on.

It was a good riposte but my own favourite answer to the kind of fan who believes that buying a match ticket gives them the right to verbally abuse their own players remains that given by a former League of Ireland manager of my acquaintance some years back.

All through the second half the boss was being berated by a guy who sat near the dug-out and improvised variations on the theme of, "I paid ten quid to watch this shite." Eventually, the manager strolled over in the direction of the supporter and put his hand over the fence. "Here's your ten quid back. Now fuck off home."

That's how you tell them.

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