This blog isn’t about Patrick Bamford…

I was walking past Paragon station one day around 2010 or it could have been 2011. Just ambling around doing some shopping. As I headed into St Stephens, Jimmy Bullard and what was presumably his agent emerged from the train station and headed towards a taxi. Now, at the time he was in the midst of a dispute with the club who I believe were trying to cancel his contract because of his conduct on the previous pre-season tour.

We were not in a great place financially but presumably Jimmy wasn’t overly concerned about that… and much of the problem was on the club to be fair. They gave out the silly contract, they hadn’t done their homework about him and they also knew about the lack of insurance. However, that said, young Mr Bullard had not exactly conducted himself like a professional footballer, whether that’s in regards to his rehab or his likening for a “night out” which is in this case a very mild euphemism of what he got up to.

Either way, past me Jimmy swept in a cloud of expensive after shave and badly fitting designer clothing, and that was that. I probably messaged my cousin “Tigerbread” and my Dad with the information and may have even done a small tut.

What’s my point you may ask dear reader? Well my point is this… I don’t know the man, I never did and I never will. I’ve heard like lots of you about his pretty abysmal conduct, but none of that is fact, and even if it was, he’s a person who is going through a process to decipher whether he was off to Ipswich with two buckets of cash or one. Put frankly, it’s none of my business to an extent.

Which brings us back to modern day and article I read today about the regular tormentor of our club Mr P Bamford. In the BBC article here… he describes his family being threatened, people waiting for him outside his house and having to delete social media after he missed a penalty.

It seems the modern world is full of such tales, often on social media but in this case actually bringing intimidation to a family home. I’d like to say I’m surprised but I’m not.

But this isn’t exclusive to Leeds United fans, nor is it an opportunity to write about a club that isn’t exactly loved by a sizeable portion of the City fanbase. (for reasons I’m not going to explore today). Look all about in the UK and beyond and lines seem to have blurred about the notion of players and sport and even wider than that into the realm of generally famous people. Maybe because social media makes them seem more accessible, maybe because the invasive nature of which warps the general public’s view, but either way it’s not for the better.

Patrick Bamford just like any other pro is doing a job. It’s what he’s good at. Just like we all do. I’m sure he likes playing and to some extent at the elite level it’s quite a privileged existence. However, it also comes with a ton on top, whether that’s training every Christmas day, spending infinite time away from your family, a short shelf life, strict diets or incredible personal pressure, I’m sure we can all agree that it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. I always think it’s an incredibly lazy summary when your classic Talksport caller says “Jonny Foreigner gets ___ grand a week, I’d do it for free…” etc etc. If 30,000 people turned up and starting questioning any our parentage at work, I can’t imagine it would be easy to crack on with your normal job.

Essentially they are doing what they are doing because of year and years of incredible commitment and discipline (ok not so much Jimmy….but you get my point) it’s not luck and it’s not for long.

When I think back to the horrendous end of the 2019-20 season I always think of Keane Lewis Potter sat on the pitch at Cardiff in tears, the season was catastrophic and we’d finished with the indignity of being bottom. The sky had fell in. This young man through no fault of his own was in the midst of this disaster and his hometown club had returned to the third level for the first time in 15 years. It hurt him like it hurt us. Nobody wants to fail, nobody takes the pitch to do that, but it certainly does happen.

City fans have at times pushed those personal boundaries too. We’ve had to endure some absolutely brain-dead leadership but no matter how bad ownership or management has been, it’s not ok to go to people’s houses or workplaces, it’s not ok to threaten people or their family and friends and it’s certainly not ok to skulk into online spaces and do the same.

We are, as I often remark in the blog, just fans, not super fans or better than each other. These players are somebodies’ sons and fathers to children of their own in many cases. They’re not our mates (unless they genuinely are) and we don’t really know them as people, even thought we may think we do. Go and watch them, cheer them, boo them and go through all the emotions with them, but at the end of that game, go home, have a beer, chat to your football mates and family and leave them to get on with their lives. Just as you’d expect in your jobs and your professions.

I might even clap Patrick Bamford next time I watch him play. Ok, I lied in that bit, but you get my point. There’s something bigger than football here. Treat people with some dignity, you might not like the shirt they wear, or love the shirt they wear and you don’t rate them, but really that’s all just confetti…. it’s not life and death even though it means a great deal… the players are a human being under that shirt, treat them as such….

Thanks for reading. UTT.