Shhh! There's a child in front of you
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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