7 January 2020

Heroism

Eaves scored a 93rd minute winner
On Saturday I drove over to Rotherham to watch Hull City play Rotherham United in the third round of the FA Cup.

Hull City's supporters had been allocated all of  the south stand. I decided to find a peaceful place to sit up in the top left hand corner. And there I was reading the matchday  programme all on my lonesome with just five minutes to kick-off when around a hundred young men emerged from the concourse beneath the stand to sit in my chosen area. Oh dear.

They were noisy - chanting their support but were generally good-natured. For them it was a fun day out with their mates - supporting their team.

Hull City took the lead and the lads cheered like mad, some of them falling in a heap, laughing like crazed dervishes. Then Rotherham scored an equaliser before one of their forwards - Kyle Vassell scored a wonder goal to put The Millers ahead.

Hull City's fans went silent but an older Rotherham fan - sitting in the adjacent corner of the ground was dancing up and down making rude gestures to the visiting supporters. Amazingly, this grey haired and pot-bellied guy was with two young boys - possibly his grandsons. His "celebration" finished with a couple of straight arm Nazi salutes aimed once again at The Tigers' fans.

The Hull lads around me started aiming abuse at the Rotherham man - their chants even suggesting that he might be a paedophile. I realise that American sports fans will be amazed to learn that such nastiness and personal abuse can often feature in professional football grounds in England. To Britain's working class, football can be far more than sport. Psychological undercurrents run deep and allegiances frequently have the character of religious belief.

Anyway, halftime arrived and a chief steward in a high-vis jacket arrived in my area of the stadium. For some strange reason he singled out one of the lairy Hull City lads for questioning, saying that he had been aiming personal insults at the Rotherham fan and that the abused fellow had complained about this. 

It was at this point that I interjected - explaining to the chief steward that the complainant had wound up the Hull City fans and that to my disgust he had aimed Nazi salutes at them.

The chief steward then said something quite odd - "Well I'm Jewish so I know how upsetting Nazi salutes can be."

I said, "They are offensive to me too and  I have no religion!"

Anyway, the young Hull City fan who had been targeted was grateful of my intervention. We shook hands and I agreed with him that it was very odd that he had been singled out. Some of his chums proceeded to pat me on the back and  shake my hand etcetera as the chief steward retreated to take my complaint to the Rotherham fan. How ever briefly, I became the young supporters' hero - standing up for what is right in the face of what is wrong.

In the second half, City's centre forward Tom Eaves scored his second goal to draw the teams level and then in injury time he sent a looping header over Rotherham's flailing goalkeeper to win the match with a well-deserved hat trick.

Needless to say I went home happy with the swagger of a temporary hero. Eat your heart out Clint Eastwood!

31 comments:

  1. You did the right thing. I wish more people would step up and stand for what's right.

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  2. You probably should have put the photo at the bottom to stop your readers from getting distracted before reaching the punch line!

    Good for you, Mr Heroic Pudding

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    Replies
    1. I hope you didn't faint when you saw Tom Eaves with his shirt off!

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  3. Football/soccer fans are notorious for their bad behaviour. What their reasons are baffles me - always has. Similar applies to any ill-mannered sports' fans of whatever sport it may be. It's stupid, ignorant behaviour in the first degree. The culprits should be given life-time bans.

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    Replies
    1. I tend to agree with you Lee. Why can't they just enjoy the game they are watching?

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  4. Same over here; way too often, football takes on an aspect of war and brutal behaviour that no true sportsman (or woman) can support.
    You did the right thing! I am sure you are aware of the continuing and increasing problems with neo Nazis and antisemitic behaviour, last but not least coming from immigrants who profess it is their duty as faithful Muslims to eradicate all Jewish from the face of the earth.

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    Replies
    1. I imagine that the use of Nazi salutes in German stadia is especially problematic. Fortunately, the vast majority of football fans are decent law abiding people and I am certain that this is also true in Germany.

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  5. Well said. It would have been easy to keep quiet. Do Hull City supporters wear bras under their football shirts too?

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    Replies
    1. Only if they have man boobs. If you need one the brand name is "Catapult".

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    2. But then you'd be able to track my movements, see my location, and compare my speed and distance covered with yours.

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    3. Drat! My cunning plan has been thwarted!

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  6. You should wear your Fedora hat at all matches. Clint Eastwood would. It's good that you interjected YP.

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    Replies
    1. I doubt that Fedora hats are sold in my size because I am very big-headed.

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  7. What is this strange entertainment ritual of which you speak? Is it some form of demonstration of skill and stamina requiring gentlemanly behaviour and code of conduct? It does seem to excite a lot of high spirits.
    That young Mr Eaves seems like a nice lad.

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    Replies
    1. He is available for rent - like a Blockbusters video of times past. Don't worry - I won't tell Peregrine!

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  8. Sports is definitely a stand-in for war, I think. Probably always has been.
    BUT, thanks for the photo! Who knew that man-buns and man-bras could be so hot?
    Funny, I just wrote on my blog last night that one of the things we can do in this crazy world is to not remain silent when we witness something like that. Good for you, Mr. P! Good for you!

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    Replies
    1. I don't know when Glen's birthday is but he would probably appreciate a "Catapult" man bra. If necessary he could slip it off and hunt with it.

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    2. I'll run the idea by him. See what he says.

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  9. Good for you for speaking up. I have to say, if I'd been in that environment, I'd have gotten the heck out of there. But then, I don't really understand British football psychology! The level of passion (and violence) that sometimes follows football in this country is mysterious to me.

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    Replies
    1. It wasn't always like that Steve. When I started supporting Hull City in the early sixties it was very rare to have any "bother" at football matches. Back then the chants and songs were always "for" your team - never "against" the opposition.

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  10. Well done Neil. I salute you.

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  11. It's sad how many people still think it's ok to do the nazi salute. We have a few groups here in NZ who are white supremists and it makes me sad considering the history of it all.

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    Replies
    1. Freedom was won by brave men and women who fought against the Nazi nightmare. The least we can do is to object to that wicked salute, refusing to turn a blind eye to it.

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  12. Good for you for speaking up, and for setting a good example for those who saw you do it. It takes courage to do that in a crowded environment; one has to think about one's personal safety as well. "Live to fight another day" sort of thing.

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    Replies
    1. It would have been easier to stay quiet - that's for sure - but I didn't pause for thought.

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  16. Ah, YP, just the post to cheer me up (I'm a Yank, which seems like a good nickname as I look at it--god, we're brutal and crude and stupid--more than the rest of the world, I think). Anyway, I love the whole concept of the FA cup--give the little guys a chance. How cool for your team to triumph in the 93rd minute. And yes, Eaves is gorgeous, but I thought the bras were some sort of method of monitoring heart-rate and such things--or is that just the poncy superstars?

    I agree that it is heart-breaking that hatreds and prejudices we thought were history are breaking out again. Especially here, where we seem inclined to shoot or stab each other. But I also think that the power of one voice is important...it's like people who think they are watching a video suddenly realize that something is happening in real life, and it's not good.

    So what cheered me up? I don't know...maybe just some voices from not here. And I am glad your team is moving on in the competition.

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