It's now ten years since I first raised the then controversial idea that footballers and their managers are not actually role models for society; that they didn't sign up to be a role model and were obviously unsuitable people to routinely have this thrust upon them. Thus to criticise them for letting the children down when they do something wrong was spurious moralising and, at root, just unfair. I argued and still argue that if a footballer or his manager holds more moral sway over your kids or your life than you do, then that's a problem of your making and not the dopey football person. This is now more widely accepted as a sensible view than it was ten years ago, but not everything has changed for the better.
Not long after that piece I wrote a column about how anything that is said to be something that 'no-one wants to see' is usually the very thing most of us really do want to see. Sadly, it seems, after the over-reaction to the Alan Pardew incident, that this view is still to gain pre-eminence. The fact that Pardew was fined a massive 100k for doing not much at all suggests just how paranoid football is about this sort of thing spoiling the game. It must be especially galling for Pardew when on any Saturday night in Newcastle's Bigg Market you can kick lumps out of someone free of charge. But then, drunken Geordies are, apparently, not role models, so they are not fined £100,000 for not actually hurting anyone. We must assume Pardew is a role model. See, that's the ridiculous logic. Do you look up to Alan Pardew? Do you seek examples of good behaviour from him for you and your children? I know the answer.
If anything, the moralising about players' and managers' behaviour has got more haughty and hysterical as the collective emotional fascism of the loudest social media voices and the tyranny of the phone camera exerts an ever-darker influence in its search to assert one truth, at least for as long as a Twitter storm lasts. Frotting yourself into a lather over repeated slow-motion replays is a lifestyle choice for many.
Now we can routinely expect to hear someone say about a Pardew-style incident that 'if I did that at work, I'd be sacked'. This is always said as though it is a brand new intellectual leap for mankind. However, if you turned up in your office with a classic Gibson SG guitar, half-naked, wearing extravagantly flared trousers and started playing this at 110 decibels, you would also be sacked.
This wouldn't be because it's illegal to play Frank Zappa's 'Muffin Man' but because (sadly) it's not appropriate behaviour in an office environment. However, do this is in front of a few thousand people in an auditorium and as you can see, people will love you for it. It's the same with pushing people around on a football pitch in front of 52,000 people in the heat of battle. It's part of the specific gig; it's not normal life.
So for the sake of clarity, I've compiled a list of 20 things we are said not to want to see by commentators and tutt-tutting media blow-hards but all of which we totally love.
* A streaker - male or female. No nipple is harder, no penis smaller than a streaker's.
* A player pushing over a recalcitrant ballboy.
* Two players from the same side properly fighting each other.
* A player abusing someone in the crowd.
* A player running into the crowd to kick someone who is abusing them.
* A player thrusting his groin at opposition fans and giving two fingers right up them.
* Spitting. A big lugey in the hair preferably.
* Managers fighting or swearing creatively at each other or at opposition players.
* Coaches getting into a ruck behind the back of the managers while the managers ignore them.
* Players who have been abused all game long celebrating a goal in front of opposition fans.
* Referees being pushed over by an arsey player.
* Someone who is very fat running on the pitch and slowly but surely being felled like a slow moving tree by wheezing stewards.
* Someone running on the pitch and picking a fight with a 6'7" goalie and being swatted away like a tiny fly.
* A pitch invader who is too fast, fit and agile to be caught and eventually gets bored and has to give himself up to the St John's Ambulance people.
* Anyone being sick.
* A dog or any other animal on the pitch, preferably biting a player or official.
* Shorts torn so badly they become a skirt for the rest of the game. No changing kit.
* Blood on a shirt.
* A poorly bandaged head wound.
* A well-aimed proper headbutt, Zinedine Zidane style.
None of these things are allowed. All of these things would probably cause a Twitter storm by people with more emotions than brains but you know and I know we love all of these things and the very fact that they've become, not just outlawed but worse, morally frowned upon, is a sodding disgrace. Bland, anodyne, gutless rubbish, does not beat a bit of blood and snot.
But who are these moralisers? Why has their view got primacy? Who are these people telling us quite clearly that we don't want to see this? Why are they lying to us about what we really do and don't want?
The fact is all but the corporately mind-wiped and emotionally hysterical understand this is all part of the entertainment of the game. We don't have to encourage it at every instance but if it does happen, we don't take it seriously because, and listen carefully here, we don't think every game is a morality play designed to educate us or our children into a better way of life. Understand?
Look, it's just some rich men arsing around for our entertainment. So what if someone like Pardew loses their rag on the touchline? Shut up with your faux moralising and start having laugh; that is the proper response.
Everything you say we don't want to see, that's what we want to see, not because we're irresponsible or evil or stupid but because we have a thing called perspective and frankly, that's something you should be fined £100,000 for not having.
Johnny's novels are getting a lot of people very excited. Read all about them here at www.johnnicholsonwriter.com