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Football - John C. Kirk

Jan. 20th, 2007

11:58 pm - Football

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I was back out at Selhurst today on SJA duty: Crystal Palace vs Hull. It was a pretty quiet game from a first aid point of view, but there were a few interesting aspects of violence there.

I'm not really a football fan. My glib phrase is that I think sports are like sex: it's better to be a participant than a spectator. I can at least say that I've given it a fair go, since I've watched more matches on SJA duties than I did in the rest of my life prior to joining up. (I'm not counting the compulsory games that I participated in at school.) When I'm on duty, I keep a vague awareness of what's going on (e.g. the current score) in order to predict/assess the mood of the crowds, but I couldn't tell you anything about the positions in the league tables, and I definitely think of Palace as "they" rather than "we". The idea is that we're supposed to be watching the crowd rather than the players, so that works out ok.

I'm generally a bit suspicious when I see players rolling around on the ground, since I suspect that they're faking it to get the opposing team in trouble. However, I happened to be looking in the right direction to see a deliberate foul today. One of the Palace players (Stuart Green) was already on the ground, and there was a Hull player standing next to him looking rather annoyed. The Hull player then kicked the ball into Green's stomach, and it looked as if he kicked it as hard as he could. This immediately got the fans chanting "Off! Off! Off!", but the referee settled for a yellow card. I assume that if the Hull player had kicked Green directly (without the ball) then this would have been a red card, but I'm certainly not an expert on the rules. I gather that Green used to play for Hull, so there may have been a personal grudge involved here. Personally, I agree with the philosophy that "behaviour which is rewarded tends to be repeated" - if you pay someone a ridiculous salary for acting like a thug then it's no surprise when the spectators mimic their attitudes.

A bit earlier, when I was walking through the tunnel (behind the stand) to get to my post, I saw a poster up on the wall. It showed a photo of a crowd of people fighting, with one guy on the ground being kicked in the stomach by someone else. (I assume this was a staged photo, rather than a picture from a real fight.) The text underneath said: "This has nothing to do with football. If you know anybody involved in football-related violence or racism, call this number ..." Being pedantic, I'd argue that if the violence has nothing to do with football then surely it can't be football related, by definition?

Speaking of posters, there are a few others I've seen around the stadium that show a woman in underwear. More specifically, it's a close-up (only waist to thighs visible), and her knickers have a "no entry" logo on the front. The text underneath says something like "If you have sex with someone without their consent, you could go to prison. Don't do it." I haven't seen those posters anywhere else, which may say something about the demographics of football supporters, or it may just be a cost-effective way to reach a large audience.

Still, it's the beautiful game, eh?