Since we’ve become a popular side I’ve seen much debate about various activities at the Bank and beyond, things some deem acceptable and others do not. Following Saturday’s game I caught a debate on swearing at Sincil Bank.
I try to see things from all points of view, but when it comes to a cuss and a curse I’m afraid I’m as bad as the next man. In public I curb it as much as possible, but I do have a foul mouth at times and I know many other who do to. If you’re in a pub and swearing then it is accepted and the same must be said for Sincil Bank.
You will never (and I’d like to emphasise the word never) stop people swearing at a football game and I hope and pray nobody ever tries to. I agree with a certain sanitising of the game, obviously the steps we’ve taken to eradicate racism and homophobia are positive and to be embraced. We will truly have lost our game though if they ever try to stop a person expressing anger, joy or despair with a good old-fashioned ‘eff ‘n’ jeff’.
Back in 1986 I was already exploring the darker reaches of the English language. I was seven-year old in that chilly autumn and my Dad had lit a fire behind our houses to burn some garden waste. My brother and I poked it with a stick and an ember hit my hand. I remarked that it was ‘hot’ using one or more adjectives I’d not been taught at school. Dad heard, my afternoon out with Mum was cancelled and as punishment I was taken along to watch the Imps lose 4-1 at home to Hartlepool.
Rightly or wrongly my punishment for swearing was to be given a masterclass in the working class usage of colourful language and please believe me when I assure you a 4-1 home defeat in the year we slipped out of the league attracted a lot of language. There was no kids section then, no family stand and not even a St Andrews stand if memory serves. It was me and a whole lot of really angry people butchering the Queen’s English in order to explain to Simeon Hodson how awful we thought he was.
To some extent I grew up on the terraces and learned the lessons it held. There are parts of a football ground that should not be whitewashed and packaged for the modern game. Yes, they should reflect the advances in society as I’ve mentioned, but never should we have to keep our emotions or the ways we express them in check. I swear now, I swear in the stands and I’ll make no apologies for it. If I sat in the Family Stand I wouldn’t, absolutely not. The fact the club have an area for kids is a wonderful way of avoiding exposure to salacious language. Don’t like the odd cuss? Then sit in Block One and rest assured anyone caught swearing in there is a moron. If you take your kids in Block Four though, you’re going to have to expect someone, maybe me, to give a player a right royal round of f*cks if things are not going right.
I don’t agree with using language like that to ‘encourage’ our players, but I wouldn’t take away another persons right to do it either. Football may be more accessible to the wider public now but at its core there is still the working class passion that drove it through the seventies and eighties. Occasionally it drove it to destruction, times of social deprivation and economical hardship saw our game exposed to violence, racism and behaviour more at home in the Middle Ages. These days if you go into a pub, racism isn’t acceptable and no is violence, but swearing is. If it is acceptable in a pub then as far as I’m concerned it is acceptable in the stands.
I had the pleasure of sitting behind the dugouts this weekend as I have once before this season. Let me tell you this; banning swearing in our stadium would cause a lot of issues for managers and staff of various teams. I’m not going to say I heard DC swearing, I didn’t. However, I did hear one of our coaches have a few choice words to say and when the Mansfield roadshow rolled into town I heard a few new phrases and expressions. Are we going to punish that to? Where does it stop?
I always try to be a voice of reason, I always try to see things from both sides of an argument and then articulate the debate in such a way both can see each other’s point of view. In this instance I will always decree swearing to be ‘part and parcel’ of coming to a live football game, especially one that has 9,500 people supporting two different teams. Our songs even have swearing in, you hear it on TV all the time, as much as you may not like it, it is an accepted part of our society. I stress it should not be acceptable in those parts of the ground specifically labelled as children’s areas, but you have to let people express themselves (within reason) when they become emotional. If we start banning swearing we’re heading down a slippery slope that really will end with the eradication of a football supporter as we know it and I’ll be a casualty of it myself.
I reserve the right to call Jodi Jones a prick, Steve Evans a tw*t and Mark Cooper whatever I can articulate at the time. I sincerely hope that nobody ever tries to take that right away from me.