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CHARITY BEGINS AWAY FROM HOME

05-03-2010

Raising money for charity is all well and good. But as Dave Woodhall argues, sometimes it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

I like Danny Baker. He’s a genuine supporter and tends to shy away from the ‘fans as sad twats’ gimmicks that accompany football in the media far too often.

But this idea he’s got for wearing your rivals shirt for Sport Relief makes me wonder if he’s got this one wrong. Not that raising money for charity is a bad thing.

But by making such a big fuss about another team’s shirt seems to be to be raising rivalry to an unhealthy level. “Look,” it’s in effect saying, “This shirt, the club it represents, is so bad that wearing it is the ultimate unthinkable act.” I don’t think that’s particularly healthy.

Years ago, when fanzines and the Football Supporters Association were changing the public perception of the game, one of our hardest tasks was to persuade supporters that fans of the other team weren’t enemies, they were allies.

Just the same as us, with the same feelings and thoughts. The only difference between us was the team we followed.

On the whole, we succeeded. Football supporters started to realise that we were all in the same boat; we started mingling, working together and socialising.

I don’t get that feeling now. Somewhere along the line football has become too important and many supporters are too overwhelmingly obsessed with their club, to the exclusion of all others. The internet has helped foster bad relations, with abuse and condemnation thrown around and the result that many supporters are quick to generalise everyone who supports another team as a lesser being.

I might be a bit overly sensitive but when this is worthy of the Express and Star front page I do wonder how many Wolves and Albion supporters are going to have their attitudes hardened even further. Look at the comments underneath the story for proof. That’s without mentioning that Steve Bull had no problem wearing an Albion shirt when they were paying his wages.

It’s a good cause. I hope it raises a lot of money. But there could have been a better way of raising it.

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