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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Bacon's Bites: Suspicious minds as sports stars take more care of 'going viral'

PUBLISHED: 19:30 14 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20 15 February 2019

England cricket skipper Joe Root

England cricket skipper Joe Root

PA Wire/PA Images

In his weekly column, MIKE BACON takes a look at why more sports stars are protecting themselves from 'going viral'.

West Indies' Shannon Gabriel, given a curt response from Joe RootWest Indies' Shannon Gabriel, given a curt response from Joe Root

Now, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.

It’s becoming more and more obvious and I imagine for many armchair sports fans it gets on your... Well you know!

Sports stars cupping their hands over their mouths when they talk to each other while playing so we can’t lip read what they are saying.

What spoil sports!

Footballers are the worse, rugby players next. But more and more are doing it.

Quite why they think their conversations so riveting, I could never for the life of me fathom out.

Picture the scene at Spurs.

“Dele, put this top right mate.”

“OK, Harry, I will.”

“Cup your hand to your mouth when you talk you plonker, they’ll lip-read what we’re saying.”

Yawn... Who cares?

It all used to get on my codgers

But stop a second. And note my words – ‘used to’.

Because it doesn’t anymore... I’ve been enlightened – all thanks to England cricket captain Joe Root.

Trevoh Chalobah and Luke Chambers, pictured during Sunday's 3-0 East Anglian derby defeat at Norwich City. Photo: PagepixTrevoh Chalobah and Luke Chambers, pictured during Sunday's 3-0 East Anglian derby defeat at Norwich City. Photo: Pagepix

As England beat the West Indies in the third dead rubber of a Test match on Tuesday, it wasn’t Root’s century that grabbed the headlines, but his response to WIndies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel who indulged in a bit of sledging.

While it is not clear what Gabriel said, Root replied, his words picked up by stump microphones, ‘Don’t use that as an insult – there is nothing wrong with being gay’.

Video of the incident went ‘viral’ and Root’s decision to say what he did has been praised, especially by LGBT campaigners.

Indeed some on Twitter have hailed Root as a ‘gay icon’! Well, quite!

But where to start?

Well, the enlightenment as to my understanding of why sports stars cup their hands to their mouths is now complete.

While I applaud Root for what he said to Gabriel, imagine if Root had said something different. Something that wouldn’t have been so ‘well received’. Something derogatory.

Alan Judge with a first half shot at Norwich. Photo: PagepixAlan Judge with a first half shot at Norwich. Photo: Pagepix

What then?

I know, I know, I hear you.

Root DIDN’T say anything out of turn.

But are you telling me in the heat of a sporting battle, people don’t say things they regret?

For top stars, having their words lip read, or microphones picking up whispered conversations could ruin them.

And they know it.

All it’s done is make them more on guard that their every utterance could be picked up and bang... You’re ‘social media’ toast.

Stoke City goalkeeper Gordon Banks (r) tries to punch clear from Chelsea's John Dempsey (second left), watched by team-mates Mike Pejic (left) and John Ritchie (second right) in the League Cup Final at Wembley, in 1972. Stoke won 2-1. Photo: PAStoke City goalkeeper Gordon Banks (r) tries to punch clear from Chelsea's John Dempsey (second left), watched by team-mates Mike Pejic (left) and John Ritchie (second right) in the League Cup Final at Wembley, in 1972. Stoke won 2-1. Photo: PA

Get rid of these pitch and stump microphones.

All they do is bring hassle. They don’t ‘add’ anything. I think they are mostly there to catch people out – that’s not right.

In many sports there is already a big enough chasm of suspicion between players, press and supporters – and supporters are becoming the worse, their uploading of videos from their phones often done to cause mischief.

It ain’t gonna get any better and the chasm will widen.

The trust has gone.

n Gordon Banks was the first opposition goalkeeper I ever saw at Portman Road.

The first game I saw ‘live’ in the early 1970s was Town v Stoke City. Banks was the Potters’ ‘keeper.

Former England player and World Cup winner Gordon Banks who passed away this week Photo: PAFormer England player and World Cup winner Gordon Banks who passed away this week Photo: PA

I was very, very young (for those trying to work out if I’m 45 yet). But my mum often went to watch Town and this was my debut at PR.

I can honestly say I don’t remember a thing about it apart from the red and white in the North Stand where the Stoke fans were based alongside the Town fans.

There was just a line of police to separate opposition fans in those days, often with policeman’s helmets being knocked off should a slight ‘altercation’ between fans occur – I was fascinated.

So, while I don’t remember much about it, I can at least say I saw the great man play. And Banks was a legend.

Not just a legend on the pitch, but a decent man off it, from what I’ve been told and read.

Sadly another from 1966 has left us.

n So, the derby has come and gone and Town still haven’t beaten Norwich in a decade.

For us fans who remember the 70s and 80s, it barely seems believable. What have young Ipswich fans done to deserve it?

Paul Lambert has said and done the right things so far – well, apart from win many games – but this isn’t his squad of players so, as we say in golf, he’s allowed a ‘mulligan’ – another chance to get it right, come the start of next season.

Because if League One it is – and that’s the way it’s looking – that’s going to be no cake walk.

The football will be different to the Championship, and likely more physical.

There are very few clubs – there may even be none – in League One who have ever won a European trophy, Ipswich will be seen as a big scalp to take.

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