Played by Hooligans…

How many times have I heard that old adage:

Rugby – played by hooligans, watched by gentleman
Football – played by gentleman, watched by hooligans

The problem is, as an English sports fan, the saying no longer holds true.

The first line probably still applies. The general rugby fan is reasonably wholesome, more interested in a family day out and a few warming pints than goading opposition supporters and storming local pubs. And the English rugby team certainly proved at the recent Rugby World Cup that they can still be classed as hooligans. Mike Tindall and co. managed to not only make fools of themselves (tossing dwarves and snogging locals), but they also let down the wider English public and even managed to embarrass the Royal Family. Well done Mike!

The major problem with the saying focuses on the football team. Yes the hooligans still rule the terraces (despite the best efforts of the family stand and numerous ‘kick it out’ initiatives), but unfortunately the same idiots now also perform on the pitch.

Almost all the current crop of big-name England internationals have at least one major front page headline to be proud of. Our (former) captain John Terry has a long list of misdemeanours, culminating in his current race row. But he’s not alone, Wayne Rooney has had a few Grandma prostitutes, Gerrard a few nightclub brawls, Ashley Cole managed to cheat on Cheryl, and Giggsy (yes I know he is Welsh) cheated on his wife with his brother’s…not exactly gentleman are they?!

And it gets worse – the current crop of sporting stars now have a new outlet, a new hi- tech opportunity to embarrass themselves and their clubs… their social network, and in particular their twitter accounts.

And who is the leader of the sporting digital generation? Joey Barton, a man who must never be referred to as a gent. Well done Joey, we know you once read an abridged copy of the sayings of Nietzsche and yes, your uncle is gay, but this does not make you any less of a dreadful thug. Joey’s list of bad boy antics make JT look like Mother Teresa – he once slapped a 15year old Everton fan, and even put out a cigar in a youth players eye! How can he be the twitter icon for the new generation? He should be in prison!

It seems us English sport fans have only one hope – our cricket team. Please don’t let us down Alastair, Andrew and Stuart, we need to cling to your clean cut image as long as we can…you are now our only remaining sporting gentleman.


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I don't really know what I want to achieve, I just know I want to achieve...and make my son proud.

11 thoughts on “Played by Hooligans…”

  1. I believe the old addage is actually:

    Rugby – A SPORT for hooligans, played by gentleman
    Football – A SPORT for gentleman, played by hooligans

    After you had said that at the top of your blog, I kind of last interest as I presume you ar ejust making things up to suit your argument?

      1. Think your child could have given a better argument then that. Clearly it is not semantics as the two phrases are completely different and mean very different things.

  2. Thanks for the comments SuperVD and Anon.

    It’s difficult to cross-reference exact phrases when you are typing an iPad entry during your commute – but point noted; in future I will try and be more accurate.

    But I’d still argue that “a SPORT for hooligans” is implying that it is a sport for hooligans to watch…
    …and if you google it there are certainly some variations on the phrase (including the one I used).

    Oh – and my child can’t speak, write or fully understand language yet – but you are right on one thing, he can certainly argue!

  3. I am 70 years old and a avid rugby watcher, and the phrase I always heard was the one that Matt Beale used in his introduction. from a Rugby Supported

    1. Dear Catwoman,

      As a semantic pedant I just wanted to point out your lack of proof reading…. “do their research probably”….. I think you meant properly?

      Kind regards,


  4. I did, you are correct. Unfortunately I am too busy doing real research (not just on rugby idioms) to proofread comments on blogs 😉 Or capitalise all initial letters of sentences, apparently.

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