The Blackburn Rovers Chicken & Other Things More Interesting Than The Football

Five minutes into the relegation fight between Blackburn Rovers and Wigan and a chicken pops up. Here's some other stuff that are more interesting than the footie...
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Five minutes into the relegation fight between Blackburn Rovers and Wigan and a chicken pops up. Here's some other stuff that are more interesting than the footie...

We're constantly being told by the tabloids, broadsheets, radio phone-ins, television pundits, blokes in pubs and even websites like this what football fans want to see. The Premier League's latest foreign £100k-a-week mercenary, an overhead kick by Wayne Rooney, Arsenal, a press conference with Ian fucking Holloway, plucky underdogs, free flowing attractive football, Arsenal, a cup shock, a nutmeg, Barcelona, Wayne Rooney, Arsenal.

But your average bloke (or even lady these days) who goes to the match isn't interested in any such superficial trinkets and baubles. They want to see the stuff you can't get on TV, see from the stool in the pub, that Sky won't show, that glory hunting fans following teams from cities they've never visited will never get.

We get far more enjoyment from a panicked clearance clearing the roof of a stand than anything Scott 'Scotty' 'Scott' Parker will do against Liverpool. This is what I and others across the land really want to see on a Saturday afternoon at 3pm. The side of the game armchair experts will never get.

Fan ejected


90% of football is what goes on off the pitch. The journey to the ground. The pre and post match-pub. Train, car journey - just like Keith, Ian and Andy obviously. The oneupsmanship of the chanting in the stands. The to-ing and fro-ing of insults with regards to geography, family or personal appearance. And sometimes what's happening on the pitch. On occasions there's one person who takes it to heart. Attracts the attention of the stewards. With amusing consequences. Being repeatedly asked to sit down by a kid in a luminous jacket. Then a couple of blokes in different coloured luminous jackets. Then being forcibly escorted to the nearest exit like a naughty child. By someone with an earpiece. Playing Jack Bauer for the afternoon. All played out to the mirth of several hundred gesticulating blokes. Though this happens often it's never gets any less entertaining.

Bradford City beating Oxford United 5-0 at Valley Parade last season provided one of the finest examples of the opposition fan being ejected. Having to sit through what I can only assume was their cup final on their return to the league, given the way they were acting. Shipping 5 goals was too much for some of the visiting fans to handle. One put up a pretty admirable struggle wrestling with several stewards, managing to kick one (white luminous jacket) in the head before being bundled out. Another seemed intent on making a Blackadder Goes Forth final scene scramble over to the netting and no-mans land of empty seats to the amused home fans. He made a valiant effort. But for him the war was over. And it was 45 minutes in the cooler.

At Oxford's grim new three sided ground, you can watch your inept fourth division striker put your car windscreen through from the comfort of your seat.

Manager sent off


Some managers seem to wind up opposition fans more than others. From a Bradford City perspective both Ronnie Moore and Sammy Mcilroy fall into this category. As did ex-City manager Peter Jackson. Who regularly wound up the Valley Parade faithful... as his teams won there.

One of the most satisfying sights in football is seeing the fourth official beckon the ref over to produce a red card. The puffed up balloon faced manager is banished to the stands. Negotiating the baying crowd (away) or pats on the back (home) as they try to work out where to sit (away) or go and sit next to the chairman (home). A moral victory for your team. Bonus points for full on tussle with stewards, and if the police get involved then you've got a good 5 minute laughathon.

Ball clearing stand


Guaranteed to generate a cheer at least as loud as the referee finally awarding your team a free kick after seemingly being intent on giving everything the other way. Ball clearing stand is a staple of football outside the Premier League. It's especially amusing at the bottom end where clubs can ill afford the expense of buying new balls. And a bonus for the kids hanging outside the grounds. Obviously the higher the stand the more amusing it is. And the louder the cheer. But lower stands provide plenty of amusing scenarios.

At Barnet for example, attackers straying off-target can expect to put through some old dear's kitchen window mid washing-up in one of the row of houses that back on to the away terrace. At Oxford's grim new three sided ground - pictured above - you can watch your inept fourth division striker put your car windscreen through from the comfort of your seat.

Valley Parade used to counter the problem by having a fella on top of the old Midland Road stand whose job it was to try and catch the balls before they went over and down onto the road below. The topography of Valley Parade made this job particularity perilous as, being the only league ground carved into a hill, the road side of the stand is several times the drop of that of the pitch side. I used to love the days on the old kop seeing him risk his life diving for the ball. Then watching it sail over hoping it would hit a passing car.

Copper's hat knocked off

Business man slipping on banana. Clowns getting out of a tiny car. Custard pie to the face. If this was a GCSE maths paper and you were asked to complete the series, the answer would of course be 'Copper getting hat knocked off'. It's one of the Four Pillars of Comedy. It's possibly the greatest thing that can happen at a football match. And rare. Your cheekier players may aim for them in the warm up but it's rarer than A Huddersfield Town fan walking past a dog groomers without a sideways look.

It's so rare I can't think of an example off the top of my head but I'm sure I've seen it. Instead you might like to enjoy the in no way amusing video above. That I simply cannot condone. The police at football do an excellent and very hard job.

Referee subbed


Just like the police, referees do a very hard job. They're often subject to terrible abuse from the stands. And it can't be very nice for them. Then again a lot of them are crap. Though I won't mention any names. Oh go on then (Jarnail Singh, Mike Dean, Dean Mohareb, Carl Boyeson, Paul Tierney... I can't be bothered googling any more).

And whilst I'm not one to wish any harm on another human. Most of the time. I've no objection to an official - who lets say will send off a player (Dave Syers) for a club (Bradford City) for an absolute text book tackle -  pulling his hamstring, hobbling off and being subbed to the laughter of 10,000 people. He will after all be free some weeks later to ruin someone else's match.

As HMHB said: "Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch. It generates a warmth around the ground that augurs well for mankind."

Animal on pitch


As HMHB said: "Even men with steel hearts love to see a dog on the pitch. It generates a warmth around the ground that augurs well for mankind." I couldn't say it better. I couldn't say it about cats either. I'm not a fan. I wouldn't have been too bothered had the Anfield Cat (as it may or may not have been dubbed) been destroyed by the steward after walking out of view of the camera. It's the type of thing I imagine someone granted the power of a hi vis vest doing.

Never the less the cat was an amusing diversion. The legendary Scouse wit kicked in with some hilarious chants (probably, I had the TV on mute) and the cat has become 'an internet sensation'. Other animals have made appearances on the pitch. A squirrel at Highbury, assorted birds and dogs and of course who can forget Jimmy Greaves picking up a pooch against Brazil?

When Bradford City played Newcastle away in the FA Cup a few years ago. Someone actually managed to smuggle two live bantams into The Sports Direct Arena. In a holdall apparently. He even managed to release them onto the pitch. Where they immediately tried to take refuge under the advertising hoardings. Sadly Gary Speed trod on them as he was taking a throw in and they had to be put down. But still. Impressive work.

You know what TV? When you announce po-faced 'we don't want to give them the oxygen of publicity' we do want to. It's funny.

Mass Brawl


Disgraceful scenes. Not what we want to see. The game doesn't need this. What a load of bollocks. Mass brawls between both teams are ace. Even better if the two 'keepers get involved. You can forget your 'El Classico' and a bunch of diving Mary Anns clutching their faces. Fans love to see a brawl. The kind of thing that in Rugby League is seen as part of the game. Sadly it seems to be a bit of a thing of the past in football with players not wanting to ruin their hairstyles, and card happy refs.

The last one I can remember was between Bradford City and Bury. Popular cheeky rotund Brazillian Edinho took exception to Peter Swan booting the ball at his head whilst he lay on the floor. He jumped up, took a swing and soon 21 players plus the two benches were on the pitch. I even recall Paul Jewell, then assistant manager to Chris Kamara, having a Bury player by the throat. Both clubs were taken to the task by the FA and given hefty (possibly suspended) fines. It was. A great sight. As they say in League. Bring back the biff!

There's the less memorable but still distracting occurrences. Enough to rouse you from your daydreaming or conversation. Fat kid mascots. Ball to the crotch. Attractive woman running the gauntlet of 'get your tits out' by walking in front of a kop. Public address announcement in the age of mobile phones. Streakers. What ever happened to streakers? The busty 80s ones? You know what TV? When you announce po-faced that 'we don't want to give them the oxygen of publicity' we do want to. It's funny.

So you can stuff your Sky Sports 3D, HD, big screen Super Duper Sundays, Goal of the Month and here-today-gone-tomorrow Carlos Kickaballs. Football, the majority of the time, even when watching your own team, can be a dull affair. It's not the WWE pantomime the rolling news channels, websites and papers are trying to create. It's moments like these that end up being the talking points. Remembered years later. It's moments like these that get the big cheers. It's what football's really about.

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