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Shades of social selection

Is there an undeclared policy now to make us all sit and watch football in an attitude of inactive deference?.

I ask because the Leicester Mercury's Blue Army website tells the tale of a City fan I believe I saw being turfed out of the West Stand during the Cardiff fixture.

Justin Preston reportedly gave '£200 he couldn't afford' to help Leicester City when they went into administration and says he follows the club all over England.

So what did he do to get ejected on another day when his beloved team were getting their usual tactical good-hiding?

Did he whack a copper?. Stand up and p**s down the backs of City staff? Did he rip out his seat and try to put a rare something between the goalposts on Leicester's behalf.

Not at all. He, and presumably whoever was with him, got cheesed off, basically.

He let rip with a few uncomplimentary remarks about Craig Levein, an argument developed with one or more other fans and, despite protests from still more onlookers, Mr Preston and friend/s were escorted out by stewards.

Downstairs a steward reportedly said 'we don't need the likes of you here,', while Mr Preston says he has statements describing his treatment as 'barbaric' and 'out of order'.

The City board got cheesed off too. They sacked Levein just a few days later and could well have used Mr Preston's £200 as part of a pay off few fans believes he deserved. But that was done civilly.

Mr Preston says he's banned, City say he's not.

But this isn't just one off. I was at Sheffield Wednesday the other week when local stewards got all growly and two police officers eventually turned up because a City fan and his marginally quieter friends were getting verbally wound up.

Nothing exceptional, because I was sitting next to the noisy one, but certainly loud enough and descriptive enough to understand what his feelings were.

And who summoned the stewards?. Quite possibly a group of schoolteacher sorts sitting behind the verbalist who had another view of how fans should support their club.

And there's the key.

We live in a society now where any complaint prompts a reaction and, in a world where people would condemn their own kids to the authorities if they thought it was socially required, there are always plenty of complaints and always people in authority who want to be seen to react to them.

Stewards like referees should realise that they are there to keep the peace and to ensure fair play. It is a job that mainly requires diplomacy not heavy handedness.

One thing that would help? Start playing some proper football and start winning some matches.

The Journalist

Writer:  Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday January 28 2006

Time: 12:32PM


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