Over-sensitive Billy – or did someone cross the line?


The thorny issue of supporters shouting at managers and players raised its spiky head again at Field Mill last Saturday.

Manager Billy McEwan was very upset by some of the comments directed at him at the final whistle and said so straight away.

But chairman Andy Perry was quick to defend supporters on Monday and say they were entitled to shout after a dismal showing.

So where do you draw the line?

It is a fact that fans pay their hard-earned cash to support their side and cheer them on if they are doing well but, equally, will holler their displeasure if things are not going well.

It is a natural reaction to what they are watching and this sort of thing has gone on for years.

People who have spent the whole week being told what to do by their own boss – and probably dreamed of being a footballer themselves – are bound to let fly when they watch what they see as men privileged to be paid for playing football not doing the shirt justice in their eyes.

As a manager or as a footballer, like it or not, by doing the job you choose to do you, you are all but agreeing that you will get stick. So was Billy being over-sensitive? Or did someone go too far?

But, that said, how much would any of us like it if someone walked into our work and shouted abuse at us. To be fair it has happened to me more than once down the years in my job

There is a level of professionalism that takes over and you try to deal with it and not react badly.

But there has to be a line that should not be crossed.

So it would be very interesting to know exactly what was shouted at McEwan as he walked off that pitch that caused him to react after so many years’ experience in the game .

He is the manager and he carries the can for his players’ performances. Full stop. Anything directed at him regarding the display, even with a few tasty expletives thrown in to add colour, is part and parcel of the game – like it or not.

But were these comments beyond that?

Sometimes people don’t just cross the line they positively pole vault over it and come out with disgusting things – family slurs, racial slurs, religious slurs, death threats, wishing terminal disease, anything – the worst possible things they can utter to get their anger out.

At this point you can understand why professionals break down and hit back.

Remember Eric Cantona’s infamous kung fu kick at the crowd, and TV shots of rugby players and ice hockey players wading into the crowd to sort out the loudmouths.

If you shouted those things at large guys in a shop, a car park or a pub you would generally expect a smack in the mouth. So why expect anything different just because you have the safety net of a few advertising boards?

Like I say I have no clues as to what was actually said but next time the Stags are under-performing, go ahead and vent your spleen – but do not cross that line.

Believe me, Saturday was as frustrating to watch from the press box as it was from the stands.

Once again there was an almost complete lack of penetration as another opposition goalkeeper picked up an easy day’s pay. And yet we created so many chances in those early games. They seem to have simply dried up

With McEwan going with two pacey wide men why oh why are Michael Blackwood and Nathan Arnold not trying to get round the back and taking players on in this league?

Both have the pace and the talent but both are spending more time coming inside or laying the ball off. To me getting those two doing what they do best is the key to getting things moving again.

Stags’ best bet of a cross coming in at the moment is right back Gary Silk who seems to be trying to cover every blade of grass and has quickly become the fans’ favourite after taking some nasty stick at the start of the season.

True, Lady Luck is certainly not interested in Stags right now, probably feeling she gave them enough earlier in the campaign.

But unless this side start believing in themselves and playing to their capabilities, this season is going to be a long struggle.

Maybe playing the next two games away from home against sides that – in their current form – Mansfield are not expected to beat will actually be a blessing in disguise as they can try to get things back together without the pressure of home supporters.

It’s York in the FA Cup this Saturday and, from a financial point of view, I can fully understand the club wanting to progress as much as possible in cup competition this season.

With promotion now looking an uphill battle, I can also understand fans who thing the season could be saved by winning a cup competition (though not the FA Cup)!

But, personally, with the current form and the size of the playing staff I would gladly bow out of all three cup competitions at the first hurdles if it means concentrating all efforts and resources on first making Stags safe and then trying to launch an assault on a play-off place.

A Wembley Play-off final place is the only final I feel interested in at this moment in time!


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