Is booing ever the answer?

by Ian Ford

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Come the final whistle at Wembley last night, England’s players trudged off with an increasingly familiar sound ringing in their ears: the boos of their own supporters. There was no Rooney address to the camera this time, no “nice to see your fans booing you” schtick.

But — leaving aside the irony of “once a blue, always a blue” and “tabloid revelation’s” Rooney lecturing anybody on loyalty — did he have a point that night in Cape Town? And were fans right to resurrect their booing this time?

The result, in terms of qualification, was by no means a disaster (although it could have been had Jovanovic’s stunning effort crept under the crossbar at the end rather than crashing off it). The point leaves England in second place, three points behind last night’s opponents with a game in hand. We are still on track to qualify, albeit with a potential showdown clash against Montenegro a year from now.

Put it this way. Had we drawn away to Switzerland, and won last night, nobody would be fretting about qualification.

But this is irrelevant. We know that results, in themselves, seldom lead to booing.

Ask yourselves, had England drawn last night having hit the woodwork three times, come up against a goalie on the night of his life and, crucially, played with relentless pace, passion, and precision — would anyone have booed? I doubt it. (Well, maybe one or two, never underestimate the fickle nature or idiocy of some England supporters).

No, poor performances lead to booing. Lack of effort even more so. On this criteria England maybe deserved some booing. Let’s face it, they were dire, although I don’t think this was for lack of effort. They were unrecognisable from the one that spanked the Swiss and all too recognisable from the flops that played Algeria.

They must play better. But, as we know from the first two qualifiers, they can. And so we come to the real question…which is not: were fans entitled to boo. Of course they were. As a fan, you pay your monies and with it the right to scream and shout as you see fit. No, the question is, is it helpful?

Beyond being cathartic for the fan, I don’t think so. I was brought up to think you support your team no matter what. Not because they deserve it; quite the opposite in fact. But because a team being urged on is much more likely to regain or keep up their confidence, and so play better, than one being slammed by its own fans.  

Booing has its place — it is to be used on those rare nights where teams haven’t shown enough desire and deserve a kick up the arse. But used too often and it loses its effectiveness.

And, in truth, I think booing has gotten out of hand in this country. There is a lack of perspective and proportion, epitomised in Birmingham fans booing their side after the loss at Everton; despite this being their first home defeat in a year!  

The Premier League returns this weekend (thank God). Here’s to more cheers and less jeers.

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  • Darren

    Booing isnt the answer, but as you rightly pointed out in the blog, if the players would have looked like they cared then perhaps they would have been spared the boo’s.

    I watched Steven Gerrard’s second half performance last night and I was horrified, why didn’t Capello take him off? he was woeful, he might as well played at the back. A 5 yard pass, stopped and walked around as he owned the place, absolute disgrace, of 20 50 yarders with one finding a player.

    It has to be the managers fault here. As for Rooney, say no more, the boy is seriously out of form and needs to be dropped from the whole squad. Michael Owen anyone? Why not, he knows where the goal is!

    I was right about Sven McClaren, the man is hopeless, he’s been in charge 2 years and he still can’t give an interview without wafffling a load of old twaddle, only 2 more years of him then someone else can fail!!!

  • charlie coffey

    I don’t normally go to England matches, being more of a club man, but I was there last night. The performance was absolute shite, but booing will only eat away at the team’s confidence to ensure another shaky display next time out. As I wrote a while ago, booing makes fans part of the problem, contributing to it rather than solving it.

    Plus what’s all this ‘England till I die’ bollocks? As if anyone’s going to suddenly decide to support another country. A lot of thick mongs at England matches. Unless you get this published in the Sun they won’t read it anyway I’m afraid Fordy!!

  • mike

    @ Coffey, true say!

    The booing will continue I’m afraid until there’s a real football reveloution, by that I mean we actually build a proper academy, not a half built one.

    Capello should be sacked on the grounds of talking absolute bollox, and that’s not just in his interviews, i’m talking about bring in youth to the team. So far he’s kept virtually the same set of under performers from the World Cup, the game was made for Wilshire last night, instead he opted for Barry who was pretty bad

  • Ian

    I agree Gerrard was woeful Darren, but no worse than anyone else for England and certainly better than Gareth Barry, who seemed incapable of passing the ball 5 yards sideways to a man of his own team for most of the night. I guess you keep him on because he might just wack one in from 25 yards, and there’s little alternative, but it’s depressing that we have to rely on that.

    Charlie: couldn’t agree more. My friend attended a game against Poland a few years back where England fans chanted at them: “Where were you in the war?” Well, having their population systematically murdered by the Nazis as it happens gents. But also fighting back to a degree no other occupied state did in WWII. The ignorance and even offensiveness of some supporters makes me ashamed.

  • dexylongshot

    It wasn’t pretty listening at the end but there are plenty of people who like to let of some steam with a bit of well aimed booing. I myself have done it only once, McCLaren on the wally with the brolley night , I think he & England justified some heckling. I was also a tad upset at spunking over 2 grand on travelling to England games home and away to secure enough caps for that Euros and then actually not being able to go. (Actually that did save me 2 grand so even stevens, but i still was annoyed……and I got soaked on the way home from Wembley after a s*it Sri Lankan curry)

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