My blog post of yesterday provided an interesting but sadly inevitable reaction from some of my more vocal left-wing social media followers.
Yet as I waded through the usual annual vitriol accusing it of being racist, pro-war, etc, etc, it occurred to me that much of their disdain for the poppy stems not from the idea of remembrance or even the fear of causing some outdated imperialistic upset, but because of something much more fundamental.
For the more I read, the more obvious it became that the reason why so many of them seem to have an issue with the poppy is because they regard it as being right-wing. And perish the thought that they could or would show any kind of support for anything which doesn’t sit within the ‘left is right and right is always wrong’ idealism which underpins everything they think.
In many ways, this is why so many of them have been screwed up by the abuse scandal currently rocking, well pretty much everything.
For whilst the socialists have happily ranted at Trump or May for anything they could consider even remotely dodgy (and it didn’t even have to be true) they now face the quandary of having to react to the fact that so many of their own are being exposed as being ‘at it’.
This is especially true of the entertainment industry where they’re now even turning on their own such is the fear of being dragged into some scandal or other. Speaking as an interested observer, I have to say that this almost Stalinesque implosion is highly amusing to watch although I have to say that the hypocrisy we’re seeing from certain quarters is beyond shameful.
However, to return to the more important issue of remembrance, speaking as both a veteran, a patriot and as someone who firmly believes that the poppy is and should always be firmly beyond politics, I would urge those on the left who have an issue with the poppy to think about what it actually represents as opposed to what they think it does.
Because the truth is that the poppy is a symbol of remembrance and that’s all it is. And left or right, we all owe the men and women who’s names are engraved on stones and monuments around the globe the courtesy of affording them a little respect by honouring their sacrifice.
You may or may not have noticed given the lack of coverage in the mainstream media, but on Saturday 7th October, well in excess of 30,000 people from all corners of these Islands marched peacefully and relatively silently, through the centre of London.
The Football Lads Alliance was on the move, and I am proud to say that I was one of them.
Inevitably, the movement has come under all sorts of attacks from all kinds of places but I’m not going to respond to them here because I don’t have to. Not because it isn’t my place, which it isn’t, but because I’ve always believed that once you step onto the back foot, you’ve already lost the battle. Especially when it comes to people who have been suckered into the ‘left is right and right is always wrong’ mantra.
I would however, like to talk about one aspect of this which rarely seems to be given any real attention and that is this: Using nothing more than social media, how did John Meighan, a relatively average Tottenham supporter manage to galvanise the world of football fandom to such an extent that supporters from every club in the UK and beyond were prepared to set aside rivalries and even outright hatred and walk together in almost perfect harmony?
The answer is actually astonishingly simple. He merely took the first step and offered a voice to the politically disenfranchised. As soon as he’d done that, success was inevitable.
For the truth is that what makes the Football Lads Alliance work is that it isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. That’s what appeals to the legions of people across this country who have just had enough. Not just of being ignored or even demonised by the established political parties, but of being taken for a ride. Indeed, it’s best summed up by this quote:
‘The alarm has been going off for a while but the ordinary working man kept pressing the snooze button until finally, he decided that he had to get up and go do his job.’
What underpins that, and the thing which in many ways describes the USP of the FLA, is the fact that it isn’t being helmed by a Corbyn or Farage type figure with a self-serving agenda but is instead, headed up by one of us. A working class man who shares our experience, our discontent and our belief that as a strong and growing collective, we are finally starting to develop not just a voice, but something else that has been suppressed for far too long; pride.
Indeed, the one word I heard over and over again on Saturday was proud. Proud of being there, proud of being a part of something and proud of being British.
What happens next is down to the main man but whatever, whenever and wherever it is, the message to the British government will be the same. Whatever the source, whatever the warped idealism or motivation, whoever the target and whatever the cost, the time has come for the authorities to stop pandering to the snowflakes and take the fight to the enemy in our midst. Stop them, whatever it takes.
I’ll be there, with tens of thousands of others. Front and centre, proud as punch.
As you may or may not have noticed, I have been quiet of late.
To be honest, much of this has been to do with the fact that I’ve become so pissed off with the state of this country and the continuing failure to deliver Brexit that I was worried that if I went on a rant, I’d be unable to restrain myself and would carry on until I wrote something which would end up with me sitting in a cell somewhere.
OK, that’s not strictly true. The truth is that I stopped blogging about the political landscape because I was becoming increasingly frustrated. Let’s face it, things are so screwed up at the moment that the hardest part about ranting about it is knowing where to start let alone stop. I mean, Sadiq Khan…. seriously?
So I have instead been channeling my angst into various projects and dragging them to the point where they’re a rewrite away from launch. These include Billy’s Log 2, the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy and a new script I’ve been working on with a lawyer chum of mine about the power of the universe.
Indeed, this last project has been especially interesting of late especially for someone like me who enjoys a bit of karma. Something which will become even more evident fairly shortly.
However, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that there is always a however, my enthusiasm for the future of my country has been rekindled. For next Saturday (7th) I’ll be one of many tens of thousands marching in London to protest against this governments continuing failure to confront extremist terrorism in our country.
Yes, the Football Lads Alliance are taking to the streets again, and this time, the ranks will be swelled by a large contingent from the veteran community.
I’m not going to go too deeply into the specifics here (if you want them, click here) other than to say that despite what certain factions are attempting to claim, the Football Lads Alliance is neither political nor racist. Indeed, it’s fairly safe to say that from day one the leadership have been at pains to create a totally inclusive movement by weeding out anyone who might have anything other than the core message at heart. I certainly wouldn’t be involved were that not the case but here I am.
So if, like me, you’ve become sick of hearing that the only way to combat terrorism is to be reactive, if you’re angry at photo’s of dead children on the front pages, tired of hashtags, vigils and coloured lights on the Wembley Arch and increasingly frustrated at the governments reluctance to go on the offensive against this cancer which exists amongst us, then come and join me.
It’s time for the silent majority to take a stand. Front and centre.
As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I am a huge fan.
To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with readers and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.
However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. In recent months for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being sexist, homophobic and racist. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, but me.
And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s Twitter’.
The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a Nazi and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone wants to burn you alive but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do. You give them power by taking them seriously. And power is all they’re after.
This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim Twitter should be clamping down on trolls because Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual. It’s called personal responsibility.
Would you walk down a dark alley in a dodgy area in the middle of the night? No. Would you leave you front door wide open if you went on holiday? No. You take appropriate action to protect yourself.
So why don’t you apply that same thinking when it comes to social media?
Ignore, delete, block. Those three words should be beaten into the brains of everyone who uses either Twitter or Facebook because those three actions place you totally in control of what appears on your feeds.
And if it’s not on your feed, why do you care? Seriously, why?
Social media isn’t like real life. If someone is bad mouthing you to colleagues at work, there are processes in place to deal with it. If you’re having trouble with neighbours, then you tackle it face to face or if it’s beyond that, involve the authorities.
But social media is simple words. And unlike sticks and stones, they don’t break bones.
Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where the law should and must get involved. But in the main, it’s a personal choice to react, ignore, delete or simply hit the block button which Twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.
If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, Twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take total control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.
Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a Twitter fan, if you do indeed think that social media is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.
I never get bored of saying this, truly, I don’t. A huge thanks to everyone who is keeping The Crew at #1 on the Amazon and iTunes sports charts. We’re now approaching the end of our 6th year at the top of the tree which however you look at it, is quite something.
Top Dog is also sitting pretty as are most of my other titles which proves what I said years ago, that if you give people what they want as opposed to what you hope they might like, they’ll buy it.
Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.
As some of you may be aware, a movement called The Football Lads Alliance has sprung up from within the supporting world.
Formed in the wake of the London Bridge atrocity on June 7th to protest at the lack of direct action being taken to counter extremism in the UK, it grew rapidly to the point where, on June 24th, almost 10,000 people took part in a march in the centre of London.
So successful was this march, and so rapidly has the group grown, that as a result of pressure from the members a second march will take place in London on October 7th. Current estimates are that well over 40, 000 people will attend, not just football fans from every club in England and beyond, but men and women from all faiths and political backgrounds who have one common desire: to see an end to all forms of extremism.
Full details of FLA including its mission statement and details of the march (which is taking place with the full consent of the Metropolitan Police) can be found below but if you require any further information, please drop me a line and I’ll point you in the right direction.
As most people involved with the publishing world know, the Edinburgh Literary Festival is regarded as possibly the foremost festival on the publishing calendar.
It brings together authors and ‘thinkers’ from across the globe and over a week long period, stages all kinds of events ranging from impassioned debates to creative workshops.
Now I’ve never actually been to Edinburgh, or any other literary festival for that matter, but I mention it here for a very specific reason. You see a while back, I stumbled across a website which provided a guide to getting published. It was written by someone who described themselves as a ‘literary coach’ and was quite informative but actually contained little or nothing that any published author could have provided free of charge.
However, what did interest me was a list of services provided for potential authors and a range of prices charged for those services. It wasn’t cheap but I guess if you are desperate to get into print, you will do whatever it takes, or costs.
Anyway, seeing these prices, I researched said ‘tutor’ and discovered to my astonishment that they had a backlist of… well I hesitate to call it a list at all. Let’s just say it was less than five…a lot less. From what I can gather, their sales haven’t exactly set the world on fire either.
Initially bemused at how someone was getting away with earning between £25 and £50 an hour teaching about writing when they seemingly have so little actual experience of it, further research uncovered the fact that this person is a regular at festivals, including Edinburgh, where they are given a platform to inform the public about the process of getting oneself into print for the first time. At which point I shook my head and went back to doing something more constructive. I’ve been around publishing long enough to know how it all works. If your face fits…
Now I don’t say this through any sense of hurt or indignation, but it is a fact that in spite of having written 15 books, shifted many hundreds of thousands of copies around the world and as the person widely regarded (wrongly in my opinion) as the father of the genre known as ‘hoolie-lit’ I have only ever been invited to two literary events in the UK and one of those I had to get myself invited to. The other had been organised by a group of disgruntled authors keen to complain about the appalling PR provided by our mutual publisher. Aside from that, with the exception of the odd writing group, I have never been asked to talk about anything relating to my experiences of publishing let alone give my opinions on either the industry or writing generally.
I used to ponder the reasons for this quite a lot and believed that much of it stemmed from my reluctance to play the ‘networking’ game. For just like the TV and film industry, publishing tends to be more about who you know rather than what you can actually do.
However, the real reason was explained to me in extremely blunt terms by a very famous and very working class Cockney female author who told me at the aforementioned moan-a-thon, and I quote; ‘look at all these fucking snobs. I feel like I should be walking round with a tray of drinks’.
Yes, that’s right, snobbery runs through the literary world like a cancer and in terms of a clique, it makes the freemasons look like a youth club.
To be honest, I have always kind of understood why they might be reluctant to invite someone like me in. After all, I’m working class, write primarily about blokey things and to those who don’t know me, I probably appear as if I can’t string two coherent sentences together. I’m also prone, as you may have gathered, to saying things as I see them which doesn’t always go down well.
However, in recent years I have begun to consider another possibility. One that might not actually be as personal as I always suspected.
You see I write for a particular market and that market is me and people like me. In other words, working class lads. This, to me, is what ‘lad-lit’ is all about yet for whatever reason, it is a genre which even as a concept, the publishing world have never fully seemed to grasp properly. A simple truth underlined by the fact that it often refers to Nick Hornby as The King of Lad-Lit.
Now I have nothing against Nick Hornby who is after all, an awesome writer. However, I’ve always struggled with the notion that his output is targeted at the same market as the one I inhabit. Yes, we’ve all read Fever Pitch but no one I know has read Funny Girl or Juliet, Naked or for that matter, would ever want to.
The question of course, is why does the publishing world seem so desperate to steer itself as far away from the lad market as is possible? After all, with the economy as it is these days you’d have thought that they’d have looked at the success of ‘chick-lit’ and given more serious thought to how they could fully service the other 50% of the population.
Sadly, if they are looking at all, the only answer they seem to have come up with is to pump out ever more pallet loads of sports or gangster related autobiographies. Great if you like that kind of thing but not so great if like me, you regard 90% of sportsmen and gangsters as relatively uninteresting. However, the fact that they cannot or will not look beyond these increasingly bland and repetitive genres is, in my opinion, entirely down to anti-male snobbery.
You may laugh at this but it’s something I have heard referred to many times over the years and it stems from an unspoken belief within the publishing world that ‘blokes don’t do books’. The truth however, as ‘hoolie-lit’ conclusively proved, is that they do.
Quite why this incredibly patronising view of a section of male readers continues to impact on the industry escapes me but from where I sit, there is a lot to be said for the idea that publishing is still a somewhat elitist world. Therefore the last thing it wants or needs is to become infested with working class oik novelists who, perish the thought, might actually manage to become popular. I know that’s a contentious accusation but think about this; can you imagine a ‘chick-lit’ author with 15 titles and a three quarters of a million sales to her name failing to attract invitations to literary events? No, I can’t either.
If true, it is a tragedy. Not least because there are some great male authors out there who, if given the chance, could actually forge a decent career for themselves by providing some fabulous and inventive popular fiction for male readers. OK, they might not win any Booker Prizes, but that’s not what it’s about at all.
You see somewhere along the line those individuals who make editorial decisions seem to have forgotten one fundamental and inescapable fact and it is this: The single most important person in the publishing industry is the reader and irrespective of their gender, politics, religion or class, if you keep them happy you’ll do the one thing that everyone in the industry is desperate to do, you make money. And if the phenomenon of hoolie-lit proved one thing, it’s that there is plenty to be made from working class male readers. Lots of it.
You just have to look under the right rock. Or rather, you have to want to look.
I recently made the comment that the difference between being an author and being a screenwriter is the same as the difference between an immaculate conception and an egg donation.
This seemed to cause some confusion in certain circles although as someone who writes both novels and scripts, it seems to me to be a totally accurate statement. Therefore, what follows is a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the essential difference between the creative processes involved in what are after all, two very different writing disciplines.
As an author, when you write a novel, it is your baby. You sit, plot, write, edit, rewrite, edit again and then when you’re happy, you send it off to one or two trusted mates for their comments.
Dependent on what they say, you will either rewrite or polish your manuscript and then take the plunge into the real world and send it off to either your agent or your publisher. This is the terrifying time for all authors as these will be the first people within the industry to see, and judge, your latest efforts.
In response to their comments, you’ll either do more polishing or more rewriting after which it’ll go off to a proper editor who will fix your appalling grammar. Only then will it head off in the direction of the actual production process and eventually, print (or internet).
Yet from concept to shelf or kindle, the writer retains pretty much total creative control and as such, the finished article remains in essence, all your own work. Indeed, once it’s published the whole thing becomes about you and you alone. Have you ever seen a book publicised as ‘edited by….’? Of course not.
This is what I mean by immaculate conception. You’ve created something from nothing and now face the consequences. Be it praise or grief.
A screenplay is a totally different animal because in terms of the creative process, you as the writer have very little power over what finally ends up on-screen. Yes, you might well come up with the initial concept and you will certainly put the initial layer of flesh on the bones but generally speaking, your place is and always will be on the bottom rung of a very long development ladder. Indeed, a script will go through so many rewrites it might as well be written in pencil and it’s certainly safe to say that by the time it gets to the point when a director calls ‘action’, the shooting script will be very different from your initial draft
There are of course, very specific reasons for this be they creative improvements the director has made or something as mundane as location, cast or budget. Yet however much it might irritate you as the writer, everything is underpinned by one very simple fact and that is that everyone involved in the process wants to get the best thing that they possibly can onto the screen.
And that is the key difference. For unlike a novel, a script is a true collaboration and your pages are usually the starting point. Or to use my original statement, the egg.
You see, simple.
There are of course, occasions when the two elements meet and an author ends up adapting their own novel for the screen as I did with Top Dog. Whilst an interesting experience, it was quite possibly the single most challenging thing I’ve done as a writer and whilst I learned a lot, it’s not something I would advise an author to do unless they have either a very thick skin, a good therapist or access to a shotgun.
I have recently been in Belarus. Am amazing country full of amazing people.
This is not however, an attempt to boost the tourism trade of a former Eastern Bloc nation. It is rather, a wake up call. For whilst in the wonderful city of Brest, I had just that.
You see shortly before I left the UK, the issue of gender neutrality had hit the headlines. And as I sat in a bar with my hosts one night, I attempted to explain what it was all about and why it had suddenly become a big thing. But I couldn’t. Because I was too busy laughing, with them, at how utterly ridiculous the whole thing is.
Now I am well aware that there are people who struggle with their sexuality and yes, I have every sympathy with those who have issues relating to their gender. But the fact remains that they are a tiny minority of the population and whilst sensitive to their plight and totally supportive of the provision of whatever help and support this nation can provide for them, it is madness for our entire way of life to be turned upside down simply to accommodate their feelings. Indeed, one could, and indeed should, argue that it would be selfish of them to want us to.
Not that we would need to. For the truth is that more often than not, it isn’t them who are offended at all. Instead, in the vast majority of cases involving the mass manipulation of British society (which is exactly what this is), it will be some power crazed left-wing (and usually white skinned) fascist sitting in an ivory tax-payer funded tower somewhere. Desperate to find some fresh way of proving that the British people are scum, they will latch onto any cause, however crazed, and manufacture a sense of fake moral outrage which they will use to fuel their ongoing war against us. And we, the silent majority, rendered powerless against them after decades of political correctness, roll over for fear of causing offence.
The irony is that by our very nature, we are a tolerant lot and in the main, as history has proven many times, will do whatever we can to help and support anyone in need. A simple fact proven by the millions, billions donated to charity each year. But this isn’t enough for the libturds who are fuelled by the need for the ultimate decimation of our traditional way of life. One only has to look at the continuing onslaught against Brexit voters to see that.
Well I have news for these self-important power-driven twats, your time is coming to an end. Because you have finally pushed the patience and tolerance of the British people to the point where we have had enough of this utter madness.
The fact is that offence isn’t given, it can only be taken. More importantly, despite what you so obviously believe, it can’t be taken on someone else’s behalf. So if hearing ‘ladies and gentlemen’ being announced on the tube or watching someone’s daughter pretend to be a ballerina in an advert on TV causes you angst, then might I suggest that the problem lies with you. Not with the great British public.
So please, do us all a favour. Stop trying to impose your crazed, warped doctrine on us and let us get on with being decent, hard-working British people. Because despite what you want to think, the vast majority of us don’t actually have a problem with any minority group at all.
I first posted the following blog in the spring of 2012, the year that footballer Andre Gray posted a series of homophobic tweets which saw him spread across the sports pages of the British press.
You would hope that things would have changed in recent years but last night, as I watched the Gareth Thomas documentary on homophobia it became horrifically clear that nothing much has changed at all. And to me, the reason is because the finger of blame is far too easily being pointed in entirely the wrong direction.
To be fair to Gareth Thomas, at least he had a go at taking the game to task and the appalling car crash interviews given by Gordon Taylor and Simone Pound of the PFA coupled with the refusal of the FA to respond to him underlined everything I say below. But where were the interviews with current Premier League players or coaching staff? Why no contribution from the likes of Lineker or Shearer?
Instead, he fell into the now traditional trap of attacking the supporters using social media to try and underline his case. Consequently, by suggesting that the reason why no players have come out as gay was due to potential abuse from the terraces, all he really did was further demonise the very people who will ultimately win the war against homophobia in football. The supporters.
As I said, the blog below was written five years ago and it angers me that I’m being forced to repost it. Because the fact that we’re still without an openly gay footballer in England isn’t simply tragic, it’s shameful.
As you may or may not know, Downing Street will today play host to a summit which will discuss, amongst other things, the issues of racism and homophobia.
Leaving aside the simple truth that I actually think our PM has more important things to be doing at the moment, the reason this summit is taking place is apparently to take a fresh look at both ‘problems’ in the face of recent events and, in the case of homophobia, in the wake of the BBC documentary which looked at the lack of any openly gay players in the professional game.
Now my views on racism at football are in black and white for all to see, be that on this very blog or in my book Kicking Off. Homophobia however, is something I have never really discussed before and there is a reason for that.
You see speaking as a football fan, it is my assertion that there isn’t actually a problem to address at the moment and nor will there be until such time as we have a player with the bottle to actually come out and admit to his sexuality. At that point things will change immediately because then the anti-homophobia campaign will have an actual focal point or to be blunt, a potential victim. As a result, then, and only then, will we know if we actually have a major problem at all. Because at the moment, it is all supposition.
That is I know, a very simplistic way of looking at things but let’s face it, once inside the confines of a ground, football fans become fairly simplistic beings. All too often the concept of right and wrong is neutralised by raw emotion and whilst any form of abusive chanting is unacceptable, the real key to stopping it isn’t legislation, it’s by changing the mindset of the minority who do it.
The precedent of course, is racist chanting. For as black players made more inroads into the game, supporters eventually began to realise how futile and pathetic abusing them was and that soon became so ingrained in their psyche that to even utter a racist term stopped occurring to all but the most rabid of morons. Indeed, far from knocking football for being racist we should be applauding it for driving the anti-racism message deep into the heart of British society.
I believe that exactly the same thing will happen with homophobia and I would argue that it would happen in a fairly short space of time if not immediately. After all, one only has to look at the TV to see how much has changed with regard to British societies acceptance of homosexuality in recent years.
Yet as the noises being made ahead of this summit clearly seem to prove, both the game and the authorities would like the great British public to believe that the second an openly gay player steps onto a field, the terraces will resound with cries of ‘they don’t like it up ‘em’ or ‘I’m free’ and the sight of fans mincing up and down behind the goals. Indeed the reason I sat down and wrote this very blog is because I have been so offended by some of the things I have been hearing this morning. Football fans may not be perfect, but the suggestion that more than a tiny minority are genuinely homophobic is beyond offensive,
The question of course, is why such things are being inferred and the answer, like most things to do with the great game, is fairly obvious. It’s a basic diversion tactic. Because if you point the finger of blame toward the fans, you don’t actually have to apportion any blame to yourselves.
Like it or not, if you are a pro-footballer be it at Old Trafford or Roots Hall, the nature of the beast is such that getting abuse from the terrace is going to be part and parcel of your career. Brutal though this might be, it is a nailed on fact and if you don’t like it or don’t think you will be able to take it, then don’t do it. It really is as simple as that.
The key to dealing with that abuse is to understand why it happens and what it actually means. Because for the most part, vitriol will only be coming at you from opposing fans if you’re pissing them off by doing a good job. And as long as you’re doing a good job, as recent history has proven only too well, your own supporters will not only forgive you anything but they will continue to heap adulation on you. Since they are the ones who ultimately pay your wages, they’re the only ones you really have to worry about.
However, if that grief comes not from the terraces but from your peers, especially your own team mates, it is something else entirely because it goes beyond banter from the crowd, it becomes personal.
Anyone who has ever been in a changing room knows that many of them are like a scene from Animal Farm (the George Orwell book, not the porn movie!) and any individual who shows even the remotest sign of being in any way different becomes fair game. Remember the stick Graham Le Saux used to get simply because he has a brain in his head? Much of that focussed on his supposed sexuality and let’s face it, if you were gay and saw that as a potential warning of things to come, why on earth would you want to put yourself in the firing line?
Of course not all players are like that and I’m sure that there are certain changing rooms which are delightful places to be post-training. But there are plenty which aren’t, especially if you’re not one of the towel-snapping, prank playing, tart shagging brigade and it is that ‘closed shop’ lad mentality which David Cameron and the various cronies and cling-ons should be discussing not the old chestnut of fears of abuse from the terraces.
But that will only happen when the game actually admits it has a problem in-house and we all know how reluctant it is to do that. Especially when you have a mute and already demonised scapegoat ready to hand.
Thanks to all those people who continue to keep both The Crew and Top Dog at the top of the various download charts. It really is humbling. Could I please ask that if you have read either book you leave a review of some kind as they are a great help both to me and to potential readers. And don’t forget, my latest comedy ebook Wings of a Sparrow is also available both in print and to download.
As someone who is lucky enough to converse with people from pretty much every point of the spectrum on which human life sits, I frequently find myself responding to questions of some kind or another.
Inevitably, the bulk of these will revolve around subjects linked to writing and be of the ‘how can I?’ variety which is fine by me, after all, my work or writing will have been the thing which brought us together and if someone takes the time to contact me, it’s only right that I afford them the courtesy of a reply.
Occasionally however, I’ll get a curveball question and the range of issues these can cover is, to say the least, broad. Only recently for example, I found myself explaining to someone from the other side of the world why we British drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.
To be honest, I like this kind of random stuff. Not only does it tax the brain (or test my proficiency on google) but I find it quite rewarding to think that people actually feel comfortable enough to ask me these things. Especially when in some cases, I’ll have been the first Englishman they’ll have ever emailed.
My favourite question however, is one which lands in my inbox on a regular basis. It is quite simply, why football?
Usually of course, this will be used in the context of violence or hatred of some kind but increasingly, it’s being asked by people who don’t follow the game and want to know why those of us who do are so fanatical about it.
My response to this is that there is no such thing as a standard answer because there is no such thing as a standard football fan. To the uninitiated we might well come across as sheep (or even mugs) but when you look a little deeper, you’ll quickly discover that there are all kinds of reasons to explain why we are all unique in our love of the great game and our respective teams. There are even different degrees of obsession but if you want to know more about that, then you best read this.
Amongst those of us who actually get off our backsides to attend games in the flesh however, there is one common thread and that is that being a fan of the game is not just about the 90 minutes of actual football. And I mean football, not even great football. For it’s fair to say that some of the best days I’ve had as a supporter have been on days when my team -the glorious Watford- will have lost and I’d bet that most fans reading this will be nodding in agreement.
For the simple reality is that watching football is about one thing, hope. Hope that things will get better (or at least not get worse), hope that you will win promotion, not get relegated, beat your local rivals or even just carry on for one more season. And with that hope comes every kind of emotional experience possible all wrapped up in one simple word, passion.
To be a part of that passion and share those experiences with other like minded souls is why we do it and why we love it because it’s where we feel that we belong. It’s out religion and it’s addictive, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
So don’t ask me why we do it, just try and explain to me why you don’t.
Speaking of football and fans, my old book Rebellion is now available as an ebook.
First published in 2006, it tells the background to some of the more infamous fan protests including those at Charlton, Wimbledon, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich and Bournemouth amongst many others.