When in the Champions League semi-final last year Chelsea were denied a number of possible, but not un-debatable, penalties the reaction on the pitch and in the studio was apoplectic. Didier Drogba hammed it up in front of the cameras while Jamie Redknapp stopped just short of pounding the floor and screaming it wasn’t fair for all the work his friends ‘Lamps’ and ‘JT’ put in.
When Crystal Palace were denied an obvious goal against Bristol City recently, Neil Warnock flew into a tantrum. There were the usual claims of incompetent referees who don’t know the game. Presumably even Mr Warnock might accept that referees may not always know the game (not the game we watch, you understand, the game they play – they’re different) but they probably know the broad concepts around when a goal is scored. None-the-less, Warnock, nor his chairman, could accept that, possibly, just possibly, this was the result of simple human error. A trick of the light. A ‘bit of a bugger’ filed under ‘Life’.
Football exists permanently in this child like state. Rational thought and discussion, amongst players, managers and supporters is frowned upon. It was evident during yesterday’s win over Stevenage. Graham Westley’s histrionics being matched, more embarrassingly, by our own Mr Constable.
One man rises above it all. Our man. Chris Wilder is the consummate adult – he’s too much of a dour northerner to indulge in such prima-donner antics. More likely, he’s a smart guy who knows what he wants and the odd refereeing decision isn’t going to distract him from that.
Constable aside, this adult attitude is evident throughout the club, even in the stands. The South Stand is a long way from the Oxford Mail stand; physically and culturally, but despite the start we’ve made; I’ve not heard one utterance of the ‘we are top of the league’ song. Perhaps we’re all growing up.