In defence of John Terry. Sort of.

This is an article I wrote about John Terry a few months ago. For lack of anything better at the moment, I’m plonking it up on here.

After days and days and days and bloody days of tabloid back-slapping, scandal and champagne-cork-poppery, the media finally bumraped Fabio Capello into submission and he sacked John Terry over allegations about his private life earlier this afternoon. Now, let’s get something sorted up top. John Terry is a bellend of unbelievable proportions. He is an end of such bellish quality, a preening twat of such low integrity, class, wit, style, morality, respect, intelligence, human decency and basic fucking awareness that the vast majority of us wouldn’t flick piss at him from our jacuzzis of piss if the whole world was an ocean of piss and he was crackling nicely in flames before us like a chestnut roasting on an open piss. As much as we may dislike him, even before we all knew he had been adulterously popping his 3-inch in the ex-girlfriend of his mate and work colleague, there are much deeper issues that are evidently at play here which are not necessarily Terry’s fault. So I’m going to bloody stick up for him.

First of all, the role of England captain is a bit of a pile of tug, the equivalent of being, say, the person who has to give out the handouts in a class because the lecturer is busy doing other, more important stuff like proper teaching and that. Terry is merely there to repeat what Capello said in the team-talk ten minutes ago in a barks-orders-on-the-field-like-a-good-old-fashioned-English-centre-half-like-Terry-Butcher-with-the-bandage-round-his-head-blah-blah kind of way. In Italy, the captain of the national side is simply the one with the most number of caps for his country and they did pretty bloody well at the last World Cup without bricking a bumload about whether their captain could be like fucking Henry V.

Of actual interest in this scandal is the stuff about privacy laws and Terry’s failure to place a ‘superinjunction’ on the leak of the story. (By the way, what the Christ is a ‘superinjunction’? The alter ego of a regular, newspaper-reporter injunction? ‘Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a…’ No, you’re right, that joke isn’t funny…) Just because being the England captain is a relatively public role does not mean that we automatically have a RIGHT to know everything about John Terry’s private life. There is a fine line – but a big difference – between ensuring the freedom of the press and giving The News of the World the legal licence to effectively pull your bum out and check for evidence of a kinky, spanky sex life. And who the hell gave you the right to think that, just because he is England captain, John Terry represents you? Or that the FA, or Capello, or Chelsea, or FIFA give a shit whether you think he is an adequate role model? It’s sport for goodness sake. He doesn’t have to answer to you. Quit moaning.

Also, nobody seems to have considered that this ‘news’ story boils down to a story about the questionable fidelity of a footballer. (Shock! Horror! Exclamation mark!) Footballers are not really the moral Aristotles of our fractured Britain. In fact, how can any of us relate to the moral realities of being a Premiership footballer? From the age of about 7, you are constantly told how special and talented you are, and how you will play for Manchester United and earn millions and be the most wonderfulest football kickerer in all the universe and that you are more special than any other boy your age, blah blah. Then, you earn more money than you will ever be able to spend at the same age your mates have just discovered handjobs and driving Citroen Saxos into lampposts. And with all the money, all the free time, your dream career sewn up, the pick of attractive women, the jealousy of blokes all over the world and a belief that you are the greatest human that’s walked the Earth since the Lord God Stephen Fry himself, is it really surprising if you have a slightly blurred world perspective? John Terry may well be a quite remarkable tosser, but it’s easy to judge when we cannot say for certain we would have done any differently if we were him.

So as Terry has gone, who do we present to the angry proles as our new captain? Another argument in his defence is the wave upon wave of unrelenting moral vacuums in the England team who might step up as fabulous ‘role models’. At the moment the favourite is Rio Ferdinand (drink driving, three other driving offences, made homophobic comments on live radio, missed a drugs test) over Steven Gerrard (punched a man in a nightclub, stood trial for ABH, persistent and high-profile diving) and Wayne Rooney (cheated on his girlfriend by sleeping with a prostitute, stamped on Ricardo Carvalho’s balls, at least three red cards for violent conduct, persistent and high-profile diving). And these are not three radical examples. Of England’s best lineup – minus Hargreaves who will probably miss the World Cup with injury and excluding good eggs David James, Emile Heskey and Aaron Lennon – the rest of the eleven includes Glen Johnson (alleged theft of a toilet seat from a B&Q, no, honestly…), Ashley Cole (Jesus in a Prius! Where to start? Fined for swearing at a police officer, speeding fines, nearly ‘crashed my car’ at Arsenal only offering £55000 a week instead of £60000, illegally met Chelsea representatives ahead of a move without the permission of Arsenal, also cheated on his wife, Cheryl Cole), Gareth Barry (stripped of Aston Villa captaincy for publicly attacking the club, promises to join Liverpool and switches to Manchester City for more money) and Frank Lampard (filmed a sex-tape with Rio Ferdinand, Kieron Dyer and an unnamed girl in the resort of Ayia Napa in Cyprus in 2000). You see the problem with the ‘role model’ argument?

So let’s not applaud John Terry for being a tricksy little hobbit, but consider the basis on which we want an England captain to be selected. Yes, there are footballers who are not niggling little bumtards like the majority of the England squad, but we need to appreciate the reality of football a little more – John Terry doesn’t deserve to be punished for the ugliness of that reality.

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In defence of John Terry. Sort of.

In defence of John Terry. Sort of.

After days and days and days and bloody days of tabloid back-slapping, scandal and champagne-cork-poppery, the media finally bumraped Fabio Capello into submission and he sacked John Terry over allegations about his private life earlier this afternoon. Now, let’s get something sorted up top. John Terry is a bellend of unbelievable proportions. He is an end of such bellish quality, a preening twat of such low integrity, class, wit, style, morality, respect, intelligence, human decency and basic fucking awareness that the vast majority of us wouldn’t flick piss at him from our jacuzzis of piss if the whole world was an ocean of piss and he was crackling nicely in flames before us like a chestnut roasting on an open piss. As much as we may dislike him, even before we all knew he had been adulterously popping his 3-inch in the ex-girlfriend of his mate and work colleague, there are much deeper issues that are evidently at play here which are not necessarily Terry’s fault. So I’m going to bloody stick up for him.

First of all, the role of England captain is a bit of a pile of tug, the equivalent of being, say, the person who has to give out the handouts in a class because the lecturer is busy doing other, more important stuff like proper teaching and that. Terry is merely there to repeat what Capello said in the team-talk ten minutes ago in a barks-orders-on-the-field-like-a-good-old-fashioned-English-centre-half-like-Terry-Butcher-with-the-bandage-round-his-head-blah-blah kind of way. In Italy, the captain of the national side is simply the one with the most number of caps for his country and they did pretty bloody well at the last World Cup without bricking a bumload about whether their captain could be like fucking Henry V.

Of actual interest in this scandal is the stuff about privacy laws and Terry’s failure to place a ‘superinjunction’ on the leak of the story. (By the way, what the Christ is a ‘superinjunction’? The alter ego of a regular, newspaper-reporter injunction? ‘Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a…’ No, you’re right, that joke isn’t funny…) Just because being the England captain is a relatively public role does not mean that we automatically have a RIGHT to know everything about John Terry’s private life. There is a fine line – but a big difference – between ensuring the freedom of the press and giving The News of the World the legal licence to effectively pull your bum out and check for evidence of a kinky, spanky sex life. And who the hell gave you the right to think that, just because he is England captain, John Terry represents you? Or that the FA, or Capello, or Chelsea, or FIFA give a shit whether you think he is an adequate role model? It’s sport for goodness sake. He doesn’t have to answer to you. Quit moaning.

Also, nobody seems to have considered that this ‘news’ story boils down to a story about the questionable fidelity of a footballer. (Shock! Horror! Exclamation mark!) Footballers are not really the moral Aristotles of our fractured Britain. In fact, how can any of us relate to the moral realities of being a Premiership footballer? From the age of about 7, you are constantly told how special and talented you are, and how you will play for Manchester United and earn millions and be the most wonderfulest football kickerer in all the universe and that you are more special than any other boy your age, blah blah. Then, you earn more money than you will ever be able to spend at the same age your mates have just discovered handjobs and driving Citroen Saxos into lampposts. And with all the money, all the free time, your dream career sewn up, the pick of attractive women, the jealousy of blokes all over the world and a belief that you are the greatest human that’s walked the Earth since the Lord God Stephen Fry himself, is it really surprising if you have a slightly blurred world perspective? John Terry may well be a quite remarkable tosser, but it’s easy to judge when we cannot say for certain we would have done any differently if we were him.

So as Terry has gone, who do we present to the angry proles as our new captain? Another argument in his defence is the wave upon wave of unrelenting moral vacuums in the England team who might step up as fabulous ‘role models’. At the moment the favourite is Rio Ferdinand (drink driving, three other driving offences, made homophobic comments on live radio, missed a drugs test) over Steven Gerrard (punched a man in a nightclub, stood trial for ABH, persistent and high-profile diving) and Wayne Rooney (cheated on his girlfriend by sleeping with a prostitute, stamped on Ricardo Carvalho’s balls, at least three red cards for violent conduct, persistent and high-profile diving). And these are not three radical examples. Of England’s best lineup – minus Hargreaves who will probably miss the World Cup with injury and excluding good eggs David James, Emile Heskey and Aaron Lennon – the rest of the eleven includes Glen Johnson (alleged theft of a toilet seat from a B&Q, no, honestly…), Ashley Cole (Jesus in a Prius! Where to start? Fined for swearing at a police officer, speeding fines, nearly ‘crashed my car’ at Arsenal only offering £55000 a week instead of £60000, illegally met Chelsea representatives ahead of a move without the permission of Arsenal, also cheated on his wife, Cheryl Cole), Gareth Barry (stripped of Aston Villa captaincy for publicly attacking the club, promises to join Liverpool and switches to Manchester City for more money) and Frank Lampard (filmed a sex-tape with Rio Ferdinand, Kieron Dyer and an unnamed girl in the resort of Ayia Napa in Cyprus in 2000). You see the problem with the ‘role model’ argument?

So let’s not applaud John Terry for being a tricksy little hobbit, but consider the basis on which we want an England captain to be selected. Yes, there are footballers who are not niggling little bumtards like the majority of the England squad, but we need to appreciate the reality of football a little more – John Terry doesn’t deserve to be punished for the ugliness of that reality.

Making sense of the ahistorical Michael Owen myth

From Phil McBulty’s blog (‘Anfield’s day of destiny’, Friday 23rd October) on the BBC Sport website:

‘If Rooney comes up short, what price the intriguing inclusion of Michael Owen in Manchester United’s line-up against Liverpool at Anfield? The once unthinkable prospect.

Owen admits he is braced for a hostile reception given his perceived treachery in crossing this barrier of hostility – but how about some respect from The Kop for a magnificent servant to Liverpool?

It is not too great an exaggeration to say Owen won the FA Cup for Liverpool on his own against Arsenal in 2001. Is it too much to ask that this should be an abiding memory, not acrimony based on a perfectly logical career decision to join United after it became clear Liverpool boss Benitez did not want him back at Anfield?

Owen was not disloyal to Liverpool. He took a chance he could barely believe when Ferguson came calling.’

Football journalists are paid to know lots of interesting stuff about football and to write lots of interesting stuff about football. The Michael Owen will-he-be-booed-won’t-he-be-booed is an utter non-story and here’s why. The football media seems to have forgotten that Owen signing for Manchester United in 2009 is not the only reason he has his twatty face on the toilet paper at the Kop.

Owen left Liverpool for Real Madrid in 2004 for only £8m, a scandalously tiny amount for a world-class striker, owing to him entering the final year of his contract at Anfield. There is little doubt that had he been sold a year previously, or had he been two or three years away from the end of his contract, his value would be in excess of £20-25m (160 goals from 300 appearances for Liverpool, 24 goals from 26 international appearances is pretty bloody shiny). And not only was this shortfall a direct hit on the Liverpool finances – let’s not forget, these are the days prior to the Gillett and Hicks investment when Liverpool had only twice spent over this amount for a player, Emile Heskey in 2000 and El-Hadji Diouf in 2002 – but it was also a desperate sell in order to get some kind of financial compensation for Owen leaving the club.

With his contract due to expire in June 2005, Owen had repeatedly assured the club throughout 2003 and 2004 that he would sign a new contract and would not allow his contract to run down which would mean Liverpool losing a key player for free under the Bosman ruling. It was Owen’s failure to sign a contract, despite machinations of his intentions and repeated offers from the club, and the resulting cost to Liverpool that caused Reds fans to feel betrayed.

Owen was roundly booed at Anfield in 2005 when he returned for the first time with Newcastle United (see, for example, http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2005/dec/27/match.sport13). Yet the football media is content to forget recent history and pretend that his transfer to Manchester United is the cause of what will probably be a pretty nasty reaction. Even worse, the media seems to suggest that this is the result of a niggling tendency of modern football fans to boo any of their former players, no matter the circumstances of their departure nor the colours of their new employers. On the contrary, the collective memory of boyishly pretty, seventeen-year old Michael Owen bursting into the Premiership in 1997 and skinning Roberto Ayala for that wonderful goal in France in 1998 adds only to his veneration amongst the football media and Owen-apologist, face-like-balls, geezery fucknuts like Harry Redknapp who are supposed to know a thing or two about the game. Thankfully, Benitez, Fabio Capello and Liverpool fans can see sense.