If its acceptable in the pub, it’s acceptable at the Bank

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.


  1. As always Gary, unbiased, honest and to the point and 110% true. Like you I give it some verbal from Coop upper 6, not because I’m a foul mouthed moron but because I am passionate about my team, I’ve been that way for 59 years and I’m not going to change. 360 mile round trip for every home game to sit in silence and not assist the ref in his decision making or encourage an opposition players to stop rolling around on the floor, no chance. I take my grandson to all the games he is now 12, he started coming with me 5 years ago and we started in the family section and moved to block 6 when he was a bit older and could cope with the noise and banter. To all those nimbies who think we should sit in silence take a walk down your local park or anywhere where kids congregate and hear the foul mouthed language they use. I don’t agree with it but that’s life today, and it’s nowt to do with footie on a Saturday.

  2. Whilst I mostly agree, I do not believe it is “accepted in the pub” I would suggest it depends or the company you are with. I also believe I can support my team and shout at the ref passionately without resorting to foul language. I always consider what my wife or children would like to hear and any embarrassment I might cause before I let go a few expletives.

  3. Agree with this completely Gary. I and many others around me in the lower coop had a few choice words on Saturday. As always. Block 3. Not 1.
    Ridiculously or not it was not any of the swearing that made me feel uncomfortable but in the row behind me a man over 50 years old continuously shouted in a nasty tone ‘ginger’ or ‘ginge’ at their left back. Then his son of say 10 years old joined in. It was pathetic and I cringed throughout. Is this acceptable? If not, where do we stop?
    Personally I found it unacceptable. But I am more than happy with the effing & jeffing.

    • As a ginger I’d say no, but it’s certainly more acceptable than anything based on skin colour. I suppose the level of offense o e takes varies from person to person.

  4. I suppose that if the Coventry chant had been “1-0 up and you messed it up” wouldn’t have had the same effect, would it? I often wonder what the players and officials do hear when 10,000 irate fans are yelling at them. Me when my wife and daughter both speak to me at the same time, all I hear is babble, babble, babble. Might as well try to ban farting, for as much good it would do!

  5. Gary,
    actually it isn’t “acceptable in a pub” its just that everyone else within earshot has to accept it,as to ask the culprits to tone it down risks further abuse,or even violence.
    Only a few weeks ago in your blog you wrote of your shock/horror at seeing couple of away fans being subjected to foul abuse when in the street in Lincoln….what happened to your views from then? you now presumably see that as a “bit of banter”?
    Finally,the FA still deem foul and abusive language as a sending off offence,food for thought for fans eh?
    Apologies for the rant,very happy with your blogs ( normally)

  6. Well I certainly gave Jones some colourful language after his baiting of the Coop stand….which was not just after his goal but all the way through the rest of the second half and at the final whistle. Surely use of language is all about context. It’s ok in some pubs…in others it isn’t. Similarly, I would say it’s ok in some parts of the ground but not in others, like a family stand , for example

  7. Yes, I rarely swear at the Bank, but I made an exception with the arrogant, goading little turd that is Jodi Jones. He may be talented ( although his career to date is patchy in goalscoring terms ), but there is no need for winding the crowd up. Incitement is not necessary, nor is it wise and is a bookable offence. Not sure how he got away with it, when Nazon didn’t.

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