After Jack Grealish was attacked by a Birmingham City fan during Sunday’s derby at St. Andrew’s, the football world has been flung into one of it’s standard, entirely predictable fits of pique.
It all began with calls for a points deduction and quickly escalated for calls for – and we promise we actually heard somebody call in and suggest this on the radio – the dipstick fan to be “banned from society” for his abhorrent crimes against humanity.
There is a danger, just a small one, that we might be collectively losing our grip here. The fan was immediately arrested, banned for life by Birmingham, and will now face criminal charges. As a deterrent, that should probably be enough for the time being.
Of course, the chance to whip up and milk as much mileage out of the ensuing ‘debate’ must never be passed up, so punditry panels and phone-ins have been revelling today in having something so contentious to pore over.
On the evening of the derby in question, Match of the Day 2 brought with it a sober discussion on the matter, with Alan Shearer and Phil Neville solemnly mulling over the darkest day in football history since whatever the last one was: “Players are in danger”, “what if he’d had a knife”, etc…
However, dim rhetoric was allowed to spiral and true hysteria was achieved on Monday with ex-Birmingham forward David Cotterill nudging the ball over the line.
Indeed, speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Cotterill sincerely advocated that, as a direct result of the Grealish incident, police should be henceforth brandish firearms at all future football matches to prevent anything so despicable from ever happening again:
It’s a disgrace; very dangerous for the players because the pitch invader could have had a weapon or anything really, we need to stamp down on this as soon as possible.
The guy who ran on the pitch has gone there to cause havoc, not watch the football.
We need more security. I am not condoning guns at games but if the police are going to be armed, I think that is the way forward.
It needs to be top-end stuff, the players need protecting more than anything else.
Otherwise we are heading back to where we were years ago with giant fences… and that isn’t good for anyone who wants to enjoy the game.
Pies would just like to point out that, of the scores of football matches that took place in the English Football League over the weekend, two were halted by pitch invaders – a fairly rare occurrence in and of itself. Most weeks, if you recall from the beforetimes, it’s none.
The fact that one of the dimwitted encroachers also happened to have a swing and connect with a player is even rarer – almost to the point of being a once-in-a-blue-moon event, almost unprecedented.
Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured and Grealish was even able to haul himself back to his feet and score the winning goal for Villa. The game ended without further incident.
Perhaps, rather than filling stadiums with lethal and/or non-lethal weaponry on the back of one largely isolated incident, a better start would be for clubs – especially the wealthier ones at the top of the tree who can easily afford it – to actually start paying their stewards in accordance with the considerable responsibilities they’re expected to have.
Maybe a fully trained individual earning more than the very minimum hourly rate would be more inclined to do a more comprehensive job of monitoring an entire stadium full of people, rogue elements included.
If that isn’t economically viable, then we supposed the hiring of several Authorised Firearms Officers at every ground, every weekend will have to do until a more sensible solution is found.