Date: 31st October 2007 at 9:33am
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“We’re forever blowing bubbles!” chanted the West Ham fans as they ground out there 0-0.

It might have been a draw, but it felt like we lost. And while I’m sure all of us left feeling a bit deflated, something a young woman said to me had definitely burst my bubble.

I had said hello to many of the regulars around me when I arrived, and to the young woman and her dad in the two seats to the right of mine. I’ve had different people sat to in the two seats to my right every game this season. Unlike most of the other seats, those two haven’t been sold as season tickets this year (probably because there’s a whacking great pillar obscuring one of the goals).

I had been sat in my seat, shouting, as I usually do – as most of the people around me usually do. My shouting repertoire is fairly limited, usually consisting of “Come on Pompey!” and “Oi, Ref! What’s that for?” I think I shout quite a bit, but I keep it pretty clean. Maybe the odd “Sh*t!” when we miss a good opportunity, or “Oh, for f**k’s sake!” when promising progress is squandered with a poor pass.

So I was suddenly taken aback when the young woman next to me rapped me on the arm and scowled “Shhhhh! There’s a small child in front of you!”

I didn’t know what to say. She was right: there was a small child in front of me. Sat on his dad’s lap, he can’t have been much more than two. Surely, it can’t be right for me to sit, just behind him, shouting and swearing? How awful of me.

But then, I thought, what about the two thousand Hammers fans to our left, insinuating in the bluntest of terms that Sol Campbell engaged in pleasures of a decidedly homoerotic nature? Surely the kid shouldn’t be hearing that either?

What about the thousands of Pompey fans, amongst whom he was sat, suggesting in unison that the Hammers should forcefully insert their eternal bubbles up their collective posteriors. He shouldn’t be hearing that either should he? Was Mary Whitehouse next to me going to go and tell them all off?

What about the bloke directly behind me, who can’t get through any sentence without using the F-word? Was she going to have a word with him too? And what about the kid’s Dad – he must know what football games are like – shouldn’t he take some blame for exposing his son to that environment?

Did I ask her any those questions? No, of course not. “Oh… pffff… alright!” I fizzed back at her, and then felt very self-conscious about saying or doing anything for the rest of the match. But it got me thinking.

Should we adjust our behaviour to those sat around us at Fratton? Or should those who come to Fratton accept the behaviour of others as it is? And does it make a difference if they are regulars? Should we do everything we can, now we’re a Premier League club, to ensure we are as welcoming as possible to everyone who might want to come and watch a top-flight game?

The club have worked hard – quite rightly – to wipe out racism from our game, and homophobia is becoming a thing of the past. But does that mean we should stamp out any behaviour that might possibly cause even the slightest offence?

Or is part of the reason that Fratton is so great, that so many of us go there week in and week out and get completely behind the team, even if that does mean we forget our manners from time to time?

Written by NorthStandDan.

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20 Replies to “Shhh! There’s a child in front of you”

  • nice article mate, i seriously enjoyed reading it – welcome not only to vital pompey, but also to the world of putting forward your thoughts 🙂 tbh im a placid as they come, but altho i might not be a shouter and screamer at matches – or much of a singer tbh – i can get caught up in the emotion of things and the air can get alittle blue! the vast majority of people are not using foul language for the sake of it are they, its just part of the package and getting caught up in the emotion of it – so personally i dont see anything wrong with it, so for having a go at you for what you said that woman in – sorry – but bang out of order, not being funny but you should go to the theatre – or old trafford! – if you dont wanna be hearing that… had it been racist or something yes, but im sure man of the kiddies hear far worse day in day out – most of them say far worse dont they!

  • A few years ago at Man City, a huge bloke behind me shouted ‘You f****** c***’ at a Pompey player whose name escapes me. My 4 year old son turned round and told the bloke he had sworn. Huge bloke replied that he hadn’t. My son told him that he had, at which point the huge blokes friend agreed with my son, and told his mate he had. The huge bloke apologised to my 4 year old and said barely a word for the rest of the match. i stood with my good lady and my other son almost unable to take the whole situation in. It was only an hour or so later as i thought about the incident that i wondered how my son knew the guy had sworn?

  • She may have a point, albeit a small one, which I belive you have already conceded, but what’s a two year old doing at a game? Might I suggest the Mum buy tickets to the family enclosure? I had the opposite experience at an England game when I mildly admonished a child of no more than nine years old for addressing the ref as a blind cu next Tuesday. Suffice to say, his oafish father called me a cu next Tuesday too. Just as well us Ninjas only use our powers in self-defence. The ocassional for “for ****s sake ref” has been part of the game since God was a boy.

  • Excellent article and something that I have thought of many times when at a game, but I think that the true danger is that if we all start thinking like this, then will we stop singing and shouting at opposing players and fans? Will we then end up being known as a family club? and will that then be the end of The Fratton Fortress? One thing about Pompey it has always been a tough fixture no matter what league we have been in and that is due to the singing and shouting of the fans…. Something that I am glad I grew up with and something I hope future Pompey fans get to experience as well!

  • As others say, racism and persistent swearing is not acceptable, football is an emotional game, as us Pompey fans know.
    But i went to football with my late father who swore occasionally, and that is life, nobody wants to hear repeated bad language, racist comments or homeophobic comments there is no place for that at Fratton or anywhere else.

  • theres a family area for a reason.

    and for me one of the main parts of being a football fan is the emotion, so why should someone not swear occasionally?

    and when i was younger i enjoyed seeing some adults get wound up and swearing, it made the experience more enjoyable for me

  • Nice point – had me thinking, but I must come down in agreement with Pompeyrug. Its good that people are bringing the kiddies to the football, but they must bring them knowing what its like, and that they will hear some bad language, and if they can’t accept that fact, don’t bring them. Are people going to tell pub regulars not to drink in front of the kids now that kids are allowed in pubs?

  • i agree homophobic and racist comments should not be welcome, my point was about general swearing in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high……….

  • I said “crap” within earshot of my nine year old the other day. She mentioned to my wife that I’d uttered “the c word”……fortunately my wife gave me sufficient time to defend myself…..

  • i swear all the time, its natural, i cant help it if it blurts out when someone does a rough tackle or someone misses a sitter, racisim is however a whole different ball game and i am fornunate never to hear any comments

  • jbaker, thats why i sit in the family section with my kids, unfortunately the family section is not as you may imagine, it’s not full of kids the club have let it fill with adults so there is no respite from the language, that said, my boys just know not to repeat it, although i could not refrain against Blackburn.

  • I think i swore against Blackburn, and if i offended anyone i apologise, but there is swearing when you do offend others and you should be removed, we all like to have a moan etc and we pay enough money too dont we?
    Pompey fans are not as bad as some crowds and some chanting is quite witty and not offensive.

  • i swore so many times against blackburn – frustration, which is what i was feeling often leads to even more for **** sakes etc, but usually they were muttered under my breath… there were a few lowder ****in’ hells directed at the ref who was a joker!

  • Brilliant article ‘Dan’ I’ve only just had chance to read it in full but it certainly got the debate gonna didn’t it ? – I’m not sure were I sit on this one (I’ve two young kids myself) but I think, if pushed my attitude would be that the women in question should not take her child to a football game and not expect to hear swearing.. to complain to just one person as well is somewhat ludicrous and to some degree amounts to bullying on her part .. If she was in the family section I’d probably say that she was somewhat justified but anywhere else in the ground I think she should know the score …if you get my jist

  • It might have been a draw, but it felt like we lost. And while I’m sure all of us left feeling a bit deflated, something a young woman said to me had definitely burst my bubble.


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