Well how the world has a way of surprising you. I awoke from my slumber this bright, crisp autumnal day in the City of Moral Indignation, commonly known as Sheffield. Now let us get this straight for the record, I am a lapsed Sheffield United fan, fast becoming a lapsed football fan too as I very rarely watch football at all now. However, an appalling thing happened at Hillsborough last night as the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper was assaulted by a Leeds fan during the game, Take a look:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9xElKblt5E&w=560&h=315]

Not pretty and the local rag is hoovering up the comments from all and sundry in order to sell more copy. Am I condoning this action, of course not, the person responsible will no doubt be rounded up and vilified and rightly so. Am I surprised at the huge amount of hypocrisy on display either, of course not again. Sheffield Wednesday fans, a few not all, did exactly the same thing to Crystal Palace players a few years back, all captured on TV in glorious Technicolor too. So whilst Dave Jones comes out of his locker and brands all Leeds fans vile scum I have to laugh. I laugh not at the poor goalkeeper but at the sheer gall of the attempt to heat up this incident and deflect attention away from his teams current terrible form. There is, however, another thing that confuses me as somebody professionally involved with violence. and that is the length of time this big strong guy spent on the floor from a not very effective strike, he is a footballer though.

I think he makes a big a meal of it as his manager, after all it was basically a push in the face, unpleasant, unexpected and totally unwarranted, but in my humble opinion only a footballer would go down to that. It was not even a bitch slap, know what I mean, that nasty unexpected strike we all are capable of, here is a good example posted on Facebook a few days ago by Damien Alexander;

Now that is a slap but unlike Chris Kirkland he should have seen that coming a mile off, the clues are all there in the body language, it is a calculated move, positioning first, range second strike third, intent all the way through. Both videos are appalling exhibitions of unacceptable violence, completely uncalled for except in the mind of the aggressor.  The former is spontaneous, it could be argued the latter calculated, so which is worse and are all the latter’s associates vile animals? Well it is all about context and perception, take a look at this clip posted by Hoch Hochheim, again a couple of days ago;


So now we have three different examples, the first a a face push (works best on footballers or actors), the second a clear power slap a la Peter Consterdine and the third a clear bitch slap. So why is number 3 different, because the context and intention are very different it has a whole load of context that is about power, not applied physical power but ownership as power as reflected in the sexist language used to frame it, I bitch slap you and you become my bitch, geddit?

I have trained and chewed the fat with some very experienced people like Mo Teague, Rory Miller and Marc MacYoung and all are united on one thing and that is the clear taboo that exists in our culture on touching other people’s faces. As somebody who trains frequently in Ju Jitsu and self defence I have to some extent lost this inhibition, I have to remember that touching others is done in a social context, we need permissions and touching is governed by sophisticated social conventions and ingrained in us. So is the bitch slap, its purpose is as much psychological as physical, it is not an attempt to knock out or incapacitate the victim, far from it, but an attempt to make them compliant, make them yours. It is used by criminals to assert their authority and establish the hierarchy, in the last clip it was used to try to regain some control of a badly deteriorating situation and it did not work, as Hoch is fond of saying nothing works all the time everything works sometime.

So back to the football, here is a newsflash fro shocked central, this vile animal amongst many vile animals has been named by hundreds on Facebook and his address and phone number posted too, bet he is not answering, the police are looking into the matter, seen by millions of shocked viewers on TV. So in a game where fans sang songs about child abuse, songs about dead fans, where Warnock was a w***** once again and bottles and other items were thrown from one stand to another is it a surprise when an idiot goes too far. What is laughable is that the majority of these numpties would cry if you offered them the chance to go one on one in a cage, a locked cage, with no mates to back them up. The crowd mentality and the alcohol fuel them up and they lose control, been there, got the t-shirt I am afraid to say, if you want to get to the root of why it happens forget all the sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists and read ‘Amongst the Thugs’ by Bill Bruford, Carlsburg do not write books on football hooligans but if they did this would be it.

Reading Bruford you get to the conclusion that the primary motivation to engage in violence is the pleasure it gives us, purely and simple it is the buzz we get. Think of what we do in training and when we fight, be it social or asocial violence, we get one hell of a buzz, that little cocktail of chemicals is what we crave and we learn how to create it very easily. Most of us control it most of the time but once tasted…..

So this still lovely Saturday in shell-shocked Sheffield where we recoil under the effect on a vicious ‘push’ in the face of a footballer by a vile animal  many people will be butchered in Syria, little girls will have acid thrown in their faces for wanting to read or dance and many will be plotting or engaging in terror, individuals and governments, kind of puts it in context I think. Well better think about cooking that sausage in cider casserole for my tea before the world ends, have a nice day. Here is a recipe 😉


  • olive oil
  • 8 pork sausages
  • 6 rashers streaky bacon , chopped
  • 1 onion , halved and sliced
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 450ml cider
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • a handful parsley , chopped
  • mashed potato , to serve
  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole. Add the sausages and cook until browned all over. Take out of the pan.
  2. Add the bacon and onion to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the cider. Simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in the mustard.
  3. Add back the sausages. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until sauce has thickened. Add the parsley and serve with mash.