Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughTerry case shows the depressing side of what is classed as 'banter' - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Terry case shows the depressing side of what is classed as 'banter' - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Terry case shows the depressing side of what is classed as ‘banter’

Reading through some of the transcripts of the opening day of the John Terry case I was reminded of the amusement of the first time hearing swear-word heavy exchanges between people in a court room situation.

As a student journalist, parking up at a magistrates court with no-one but perhaps a neck-tattooed acquaintance of a defendant for company in the public gallery, an endless source of amusement was the prosecution lawyer reading out a string of expletives in clipped, Queens English tones.

All of these memories came rushing back today after reading reports of what occurred in Westminister magistrates court today where the c-bomb was dropped more times than could be counted according to the Guardian.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the case as that would a) be contempt of court and b) add nothing more to the collective knowledge of the situation. But there is something I would like to consider.

Should we expect better from our footballers?

I’m not talking in terms of footballers not having arguments on the pitch because expecting that would be delusional to the point of insanity and we should of course expect better from everybody in society than to stoop to the levels of using someone’s skin colour as a form of abuse.

But should we expect a better quality of exchanges and ripostes between players?

The amount of times the ‘C’ word was used suggests terminal levels of imagination in the Premier League footballer’s offensive vocabulary when it comes to verbal jousts with fellow professionals.

Clearly, this isn’t the big issue in the John Terry case but it does provide an insight into the kind of conversations that occur on the pitch between professionals and it pretty much matches up to what many of the general public probably secretly suspected about footballers and their interactions with one another.

Reading any football autobiography gives you the staple examples of what constitutes fun in the dressing room which usually revolves around practical jokes, minor levels of emotional and physical bullying and just general metaphorical (and perhaps occasional literal) penis-measuring contests resulting in the kind of workplace situation where calling someone a “c**t” is classed as banter.

In “The Keeper of Dreams” ex-Barnsley goalkeeper, the German Lars Lesse speaks of his time in England and how “f**k” was used as basically an enhancer in the dressing room to mean more of something; work harder, shoot harder, run more etc. This was more than 10 years ago now and it would appear the situaton hasn’t at all changed.

Obviously, it would be foolish to expect intellectual, verbal jousting similar to that of between Romeo, Mercutio and Tybalt in the Venetian streets in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or something even approaching Oscar Wilde-levels. Not even a series of ripostes between Graeme Le Saux and Frank Lampard would get close to that.

But if we look at the examples to be had in cricket with some classic sledging then it’s clear to see that sportsman can come up with clever witticisms at their opponents. Cricket is a more sedate game than football of course but the suggestion that class differences and resultant education levels could be to blame for the difference cannot be considered once you check out the backgrounds of those players mentioned in the cricket article.

Another article in the Guardian last year called for a campaign to “Stop banter” but this is far too unspecific. Banter can be good of course; banter can be smart and witty but let us stop banter that contains the word “c**t”.

But first of all, it’s probably best to keep the Kick It Out campaign top of the list of priorities, regardless of the outcome of the ongoing trial.


In an unusual move, here is a cricket clip on a football website. Normal service will soon resume.

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