Before I start giving my opinion about the whole Fabrice Muamba incident I would like to firstly say that a) it’s a horrible shocking thing which happened to him and b) I’m very glad he seems to be making a quick recovery and I hope makes it back on a football pitch again.
You see. I think that the above sounds sincere and dignified. I haven’t bought a “Pray for Muamba” T-Shirt, I haven’t tweeted the same message with a hash tag or updated my Facebook status accordingly or sent any flowers or messages to the Reebok Stadium.
A lot has happened since the almost tragic events at White Hart Lane. The first I heard about it was from my friend JB via Twitter on the way back from the Pirelli Stadium with bellies full of Fish, chips, mushy peas and gravy. It was shocking stuff indeed to hear that anyone of Fabrice’s age and fitness would suddenly collapse on the football field.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Ex team-mate of Muamba, Gary Cahill scores, runs towards the camera and unveils a “Pray for Muamba” T-Shirt. All wonderful. The question that crossed my mind was “How the fuck has he got one professionally printed on a Sunday morning?”. I’m not doubting Cahill’s feelings towards the health of a ex-teammate aren’t geniune but it struck me as strange that it wasn’t a bog standard white fruit of the loom number with “Pray for Muamba” in permanent marker. Which only leaves me to deduce that Gary Cahill knows a t-shirt printer, that the t-shirts were hastily made in the club shop or that some scrotum burnt the midnight oil and turned up at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon who spotted a niche in the market and wanted to make a quick profit.
Fast forward again to yesterday. On the way up to Matlock for their game against Chester I was listening to BBC Radio 5 Live. Plenty of emotional content. There was a decent interview with a Bolton player. Lots of interesting viewpoints about how some players have had nightmares and flashbacks about seeing their team-mate lying on the pitch at White Hart Lane, stricken with a serious medical condition. Then the interview veered off into semi sanctimony about how wonderful all football fans were, how supportive everyone was. All good if true but I’d like it not to be the emphasis of whole incident otherwise Fabrice Muamba is just a pawn in an undignified media game. A living version Lourdes, where all the corruption of owners, superficiality of players and supporters, greed and unsustainability of a horrible over-hyped league can suddenly all pat themselves on the back because they’ve bought a t-shirt or tweeted #prayformuamba. If Tottenham and Blackburn fans have been great then that’s fantastic, if new friendships are made then even better in my book but they should’ve be held up by the media as examples where everything is great with English football.
As I was coming back from a proper football match, there was a post match interview with Bolton full-back Sam Ricketts. Again it started off normally. Standard questions about the game. “Did you hear Muamba’s name being sung during the quiet moments of the game”. Ricketts said that usually you couldn’t hear specific songs (or he’s learned to tune them out) but today was an exception. Well done Bolton fans. To me that’s proper support for a player who may or may not recover enough to play football again at the Reebok Stadium. Then the 5 Live interviewer ruined it with a daft “Did you do it today for Fabrice Muamba“? Poor Sam Ricketts then had to admit that part of the win was for his team-mate when really it should be expected, despite what’s gone on, that a professional footballer on a decent wedge who plays for a team battling relegation should really need the extra motivation of a stricken colleague to win an important football match and a derby game.
Fast forward again to last night’s MOTD. In the closing moments of the Bolton V Blackburn which rather bizarrely shown first on MOTD. Gary Lineker tells us that under normal circumstances MOTD “would be highlighting the match as a vitally important clash between two sides looking to avoid relegation”. It would be nice if they did this for football reasons from time to time wouldn’t it? But no, if Fabrica Muamba hadn’t collasped then MOTD would have them propping up the programme’s schedule like an old book that’ll never be read again. Guy Mowbray started of the match with a hideously cringeworthy battlecry of “Pray for Muamba, now becomes do it for Muamba“. Pass me a bucket. Guy then says “A difficult day for Blackburn Rovers this, it was always going to be”. Only because you media twats have decided that the right result would only be a win for Bolton. In the closing moments he seemed to be implying it would be a shame if Blackburn would’ve equalised. Why? Because it might upset a young bloke lying in a bed in the London Chest Hospital? Gary Lineker then quipped “It’s a week when football came together”. I’m sorry but what a load of sanctimonious old bollocks. Nothing more than mutual media back-patting.
Ever since Diana’s death and consequent Disney/Nazi Propaganda style funeral we seem to be, as a nation, quite happy to embarrass ourselves with this special breed of public shows of grieving or emotion that lack any dignity or sincerity all together. Everyone’s far too quick to update Facebook statuses or Tweet some throwaway bollocks because it’s better to be seen to do the right thing, whatever that is or whatever certain sections of the media want you to believe to be the right thing. The whole Steve Jobs thing made me realise just how far this has gone. People changing their Facebook photos to Apple logos or as some knob said on Twitter that he kept his iPhone at half-charge in tribute.
But there is hope in this horrible new world. I see even “Fat” Frank Lampard recently decided against the usual goal celebration (or cringeworthy dedication to his mother if you’re as cynical as me) when he remembered that Chelsea needed another goal against Napoli. I was expecting a media backlash. But I can only assume that “selfish” Frank knows that his late mum (god rest her soul) thought penalties were just another form of cheating and wouldn’t appreciate the dedication. At least some have morals.