Reading Andy Ryan’s article in Issue 323, the comment about Ben Gladwin having to be loaned out, and Clive Whittingham’s quote stating that “...it’s a shame the way QPR has gone in recent years” both struck a chord with me. For ‘QPR’ substitute ‘the world of football’. To quote The Jam from way back when, this is the modern world, where (to paraphrase a 1989 UK number three by Queen, pop pickers) ‘I want it all, and I want it now’.
I must admit to not being on Twitter or Facebook, yet judging from what I read with the proliferation of social media, everyone has an opinion and they want that opinion heard - no matter however offensive or irrational. Which brings me back to Ben Gladwin. How can a young player ever get the chance to develop when any error is greeted with a tirade of abuse? Football now demands instant success - and with regards to QPR, that was shown with the sacking of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Rangers were just six points off the play-off places. Yes, the football served up was not that exciting, yet had we been in the top two, circa 2013/14 under Redknapp, would JFH have been hooked?
This is not to say that abuse, grumbling and moaning is a modern phenomenon. I can remember Ron Springett taking terrible flak from the Loft during a 4-0 home reversal to West Brom on Boxing Day 1968. Ron spent most of the second-half standing on the edge of his penalty-box. And over the years, others wearing the hoops have been subjected to much vitriol - Derek Richardson, Tony Sealy, Matt Rose, Tony Scully and Karl Henry to name just a few.
The difference in those days - with the exception of Karl Henry - was that come five o’clock on a Saturday afternoon that was the end of it. Nowadays the abuse and malice is 24/7, 365 days of the year, with everyone wanting their say, resulting in a Ben Gladwin situation - the manager having to loan out the player to protect him from his own supporters. It’s surely no coincidence that, back at Swindon, he’s been amongst the goals of late.
I expect this kind of thing to happen more and more as patience becomes a thing of the past, and instant success is demanded ever more rapidly. I wonder if the likes of Clive Allen, Paul Goddard, Gary Waddock and Kevin Gallen would have made the grade in the current climate?
Perhaps the best piece of abuse I ever witnessed happened during the 1998/99 season, at home to Portsmouth. My Dad and I were season ticket holders in Block G, Row A of the South Africa Road stand. Dad had the end seat and used to hang his walking stick on the barrier. In the second-half a poor challenge from a Pompey player happened right in front of us. It left Gavin Peacock reeling in agony. The challenge infuriated the crowd in the South Africa Road stand to such an extent that suddenly a guy comes rushing down the steps, grabs Dad’s walking stick and starts waving it in the direction of the Pompey bad boy, whilst giving him all kinds of verbals. The guy then hangs the walking stick back on the barrier, looks at my Dad and says “Cheers, mate!” before heading back up the steps. Classic. Beat that, Twitter!
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