Date: 22nd March 2012 at 10:07am
Written by:

Opposing views not welcome here…

Morning all.

As some of you will be aware, back in the mists of time, I took a law degree. In fact, with a massive blow of my own trumpet, I actually took two because there is nothing that says ‘anal’ more than someone with two law degrees.

There, I discovered that there is no common law duty for someone to help someone else if they see that they are in peril. So, for instance, if you walk past a lake and see someone drowning, you are under no legal compunction to dive in and save them, or even throw them a ring. You may be an utter John Terry, but you cannot be held criminally liable.

Of course, there are provisos to this, and one is if you see a professional footballer on the floor of a London stadium, suffering an apparent cardiac arrest and you are a Consultant Cardiologist who just happens to work at the hospital that the footballer will end up being treated at. No one would have known that he was there, but Dr Andrew Deaner ran onto the pitch and helped out, playing a major part in saving Fabrice Muamba’s life, alongside Jonathan Tobin and Shabaaz Mughal, the Bolton and Tottenham doctor’s respectively.

All three did what they are paid to do and all deserve the massive credit that is going to them. In their day to day lives, they have probably saved tens, if not hundreds, if not thousands of people from mundane diagnosis through to efforts in an operating room. But you can be sure that none of them will have to go through again what they went through on Saturday.

Alongside the doctors efforts, much has been made of the footballing community coming together, of fans converging on T’Reebok to wish Fabrice well regardless of what team they support. Opposing players have come en masse to the stadium to lay shirts in response to the massive outpouring of first worry and then relief for the fighting spirit of the Bolton Wanderers player. Muamba, for the moment, is the most famous footballer in the world in the same week that Lionel Messi broke Barcelona’s goalscoring record at the age of just twenty four.

In grounds around the country, indeed around the world, messages have appeared on shirts, on big screens and on placards, periods of applause have been given and ex-Arsenal captains have flown the Atlantic to spend an hour at Fabrice’s bedside. The Fabrice Muamba cardiac arrest has truly become a global phenomenon.

And, naturally, with all the goodwill emanating from the incident, one that none of us would ever wish to witness again, there has come the backlash. From some corners, it has to be expected. Some Burnley fans have used it as a stick to beat Owen Coyle with in the most unnecessary way, still bleating on about him being a Judas and asking why on earth the Villa game was postponed. Whilst some make the point, relevant but at the same time misplaced, that if a work colleague of yours or mine died we would still be expected to continue to work, most of us don’t see our workmate collapse in front of us at the age of twenty three in front of thirty thousand plus people. Whilst I was sure that Owen was eventually going to say that he was stood in front of the London Chest Hospital and that it was ‘the best chest hospital in the world’, some of the fans on this forum decided to make fun of the situation to say something like:

‘Well, there was great news today when Owen Coyle used his tenth/eleventh press conference of the week to let everyone know that his selfless act of ‘laying hands on’ had finally brought Muamba back to life. God bless you Owen’.

Both unfunny and distasteful. Whilst I’m sure that what was written on this forum does not in any way speak for the majority of Burnley fans, I’m sure that they would have had a different reaction if it had been Charlie Austin collapsing in the centre circle.

And then there are those from outside football. I’m sure you’ve seen the article from Richard Littlejohn talking about the sentimental streak of football as wide as Wembley Stadium, having a go at Gary Cahill for not spelling out the word ‘for’ on his tribute to ‘Pray 4 Muamba’. There is no point in linking to the article as Littlejohn is, always has been, and probably always will be, a right John Terry and to link to it would be to give the person more publicity.

With The Sun already receiving notoriety for using a picture of Fabrice lying prone on the floor on their website, there were two of the worst examples of British newspapers doing themselves no favours. I don’t, nor ever have, bought The Sun, re-enforced by the fact that my partner of eight years is from Merseyside. I’ve never bought The Mail as I’m not a scum sucking country boy who didn’t inherit daddy’s brain cell. If you read either and don’t agree with me, then feel free not to come here again.

However, last night there appeared in The Guardian an article by Marina Hyde entitled ‘Why all this self-congratulation over duty of care to Fabrice Muamba?’. Kicking off with the example of Chris Rock’s stand up where he riffs on people self congratulating themselves for doing something that they should already do naturally (I listened to it again to remind myself just how funny it is) she goes on to stick the proverbial boot right into the midriff of the collective outpouring of worry, hope and then relief that we have all lived through in the last five days.

As I suggested on Tuesday, I’m not one of those people who have become more proud to be a Bolton Wanderers fan because of what happened to Fabrice Muamba. I am as proud today as I was last week and last season. I am more proud, and thankful, that we have a doctor that helped save his life. But whilst Hyde’s article is more thougtful than Littlejohn’s, it is just as wide of the mark. In fact, you could say that it is wider than a Fabrice Muamba attempt on goal.

I read a book recently that suggested we have lost our sense of community because our neighbours are no longer our colleagues. During the industrial revolution and beyond into the fifties and sixties, we worked alongside the people we lived beside. We no longer do. But on a Saturday afternoon every other week we have that sense again. We usually sit next to the same people, sometimes without even knowing their names, and endure the highs and lows together. We have a go at opposition players, we have a go at our own players and we have a go at our manager. We share worried smiles and laugh when the referee falls over. Football is a release from the norm. So, when that community comes together and stands for something, then why is that a bad thing?

The effect may seem to be self-congratulatory but it is anything of the sort. Naturally, the time that we live in has exacerbated the effect due to social media and rolling news but, as Bolton Wanderers fans, we know of a game that they played on, with bodies lining the pitch as the authorities did not know what would happen if they abandoned the game. That, at the time, was seen as the human thing to do.

I’m not saying that Marina Hyde’s article doesn’t give some food for thought. There are Bolton fans who sing about ‘Munich’, just as there are Liverpool fans, just as there are United fans who sing about ‘Hillsborough’. There is still something rotten within some football fans. The idiot who has been caught for making abusive comments about Fabrice on Twitter makes us remember that there is something rotten about humanity. There always will be.

In a sense, it has taken an unfortunate incident for the footballing family to stick together. But that is what happens when tragedy strikes. The family stands together. And anyone who has an opposing view isn’t invited to the party.


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