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Tuesday, 01 November 2011

Outside the Box – Football on TV: A bad week for JT just gets worse and worse as the news hacks attack!


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Sqf Chris Pettitt

It’s been a bad old week for Chelsea and England captain John Terry hasn’t it? The on-going racism row between Terry and his accuser Anton Ferdinand has been front and back page news since the incident occurred a week ago and the story shows no signs of halting.

Like most I have seen the footage of the alleged incident on YouTube and, like most, have no problem at all sticking my oar in and giving my thoughts. I have to say it doesn’t look good for Terry, in fact the only defence he could possibly have as far as I see it is that he was simply asking Ferdinand if he had read the 2009 romantic novel ‘Back Cut’; although given the personalities involved, I’m afraid that is probably not the case.

The Terry saga certainly had the football hacks pontificating profusely on the Sunday morning judgement-fest Sunday Supplement. Hosted by the Daily Star’s chief sports writer Brian Woolnough, the show is a weekly round up of the biggest stories in the world of football. Each week, the ogre-like Woolnough invites on a few of his Fleet Street colleagues to essentially verbalise their written columns from the morning’s papers. You may remember an earlier incarnation of the show from as far back as 1999 when it was hosted by the lovable ‘Chinned-wonder’ Jimmy Hill. He was dropped from the show in 2007 after it was revealed he actually had no idea what he was talking about. He’s never been seen again.

Woolnough and his band of merrymen couldn’t wait to get their teeth into Terry and there was a distinct lack of support for the Chelsea man. The Daily Mail’s Ricky Tomlinson-lookalike Martin Samuel and the snooze-inducing John Richardson of the Sunday Express both entertained doubts about Terry’s innocence. Samuel was particularly resolute in refusing to excuse Terry’s behaviour and dismissed arguments that unacceptable language can occur in the heat of the battle. He explained that “even when emotions are running high in a sporting arena, racist comments can never be excused” and it’s difficult to argue with that.

But it was the third journo that provided the most entertaining diatribe on the Terry saga. The Sunday Mirror’s Paul Smith, who incidentally looks like a cross between a 1960s East London boxer and a rat, was revealing his thoughts on Terry when he inadvertently disclosed a real scoop. He spoke of a Terry’s “alleged affair with a teammate” which emphatically added a further level to the whole Wayne Bridge episode a few years ago; perhaps the apparent hurt endured by Bridge was less of treachery and more of rejection eh?

Terry’s week of woe continued during Chelsea’s 5-3 defeat at the hands of the visiting Arsenal. The match was first up on Match Of The Day and Terry’s colossal and completely hilarious slip to let in Van Persie to score was precisely what he wouldn’t have wanted. The game itself was a fantastic affair, a pulsating spectacle with breathless attacking flair complete with wonderful performances from Van Persie, Walcott and Lampard. Jarring though, is the continuing decline in the standard of defending, even amongst the country’s elite clubs; United shipping six last week and now five for Chelsea would have been unthinkable two years ago. You’d think that this regression of the art of defending would upset the curmudgeonly Alan Hansen but no, he called the game “one of the best you’ll ever see”.

Hansen couldn’t let Terry’s mistake slip though (see what I did there?) and talked about the inevitable decay of Terry’s ability and the potential perils for his defensive partners. “Five years ago, anyone could have played alongside Terry,” he suggested; I think that list is diminishing by the day now though Alan, just ask Anton, Rio and Wayne.

More horror shows earlier on Saturday as there was a Halloween theme over at Strictly Come Dancing, and twinkle-toed Robbie Savage hasn’t been part of such an array of ghoulish performances since his days at Pride Park. Savage was throwing his all in as ever and his scary costume rendered him looking like Boy George after a particularly intense session on a sunbed. There was also a rare moment of self-realisation when he admitted to the watching millions that, “I am ugly”. While we’re at it Robbie, you weren’t a great footballer either. And your punditry could do with some work.

Don't forget Chris Pettitt will be here each and every Tuesday at Squarefootball.

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