In Wednesday’s Sun newspaper Steven Howard laid into the England football team for having the audacity not to beat Ukraine and accusing them of ‘pi**ing’ all over the summer parade of glorious British sport whilst extinguishing the Olympic flame to boot. Here 18 year old aspiring journalist Jack Heaney responds.
The Cutter does not provide links to the Scum newspaper so you’ll just have to take Jack’s word for it. Trust him. He’s a good lad.
We have also decided not to include a photograph of the journalist as attention is what he so evidently craves. Instead we’ve printed a nice picture of a gargoyle.
by Jack Heaney
Dear friends and enemies: what is the point of becoming a journalist? This is a question you, the reader, should digest even if the idea of spilling ink for a shilling or two interests not a hair on your head. Go on. Think about it. Why bother? For all of the torrential graft it takes to engrave you’re name upon the fine marble surface of the industry so people might notice it; for all the hours one might spend trying to perfect or fine-comb an article; for all the negativity that surrounds journalism and journalists (in which sometimes the phrase ‘tarred by the same brush’ becomes appropriate’). It doesn’t take a humorously Sherlock Holmes-esque oversized magnifying glass to understand that, sometimes, journalism is a prickly profession.
So why bother? I am 18, and having been writing articles for a year or so now, I think I know why. It all boils down to human desires of the basest kind. For potent is the attraction in enlightening, sharing, offering, debating. There is an allure in educating; and for that matter, an allure in being educated. To craft a piece of journalism which demonstrates your opinion – to assess evidence, statistics, viewpoint and emotion and then to bake that selection into a few hundred words of finely cooked prose – is (or should) be a pleasure.
So, we got there in the end. The point of becoming a journalist should be to offer intelligent opinion.
It’s not a concept as tricky as the finer details of abstract topography, is it? But for certain writers, such as the evergreen Steven Howard of the Sun, the beauty of journalism is lost. As the ninety minutes of the England/Ukraine game died a death, the crushing, broken sense of inevitability that exists within me slid from the womb and, in a flash, started begging for attention. For I knew what would await the nations eyes in the papers the next morning. Scholarly snippets of succinct and balanced opinion after an indifferent night underneath Wembley’s arch? No. Hyperbole would be, and was, the order of the day.
Steven Howard represents the pernicious, mendacious collection of ‘journalists’ who do not care for football. They do not care for England; or if they do, they are so misguided that it is in no way apparent. They simply care about pushing a misguided agenda: one which will intensify with every last stutter in a Hodgson regime which, surprise surprise, will inevitably stutter. Like some sort of deranged nihilist that stands upon an orange crate at Speakers corner, bellowing ‘come gather round and hear ye’ tale of old’, Howard opens his diatribe with ‘and so, the Hodgson honeymoon period is over’. In real life that isn’t blighted by tribalism for a certain unemployed football manager, there was no ‘honeymoon’ period for Roy Hodgson.
England produced a decent showing at Euro 2012 not with the blessing of a twisted ‘beginners luck’ myth, but with the organisational skills and rigidity Hodgson is renowned for. England played to their strengths; topped the group with a fine seven points; were thoroughly outplayed by Italy. The nation for once played to its strengths. The lack of an ability to keep hold of the ball was again highlighted like an eyeless socket. This was always going to be a work in progress. We are three to four months inside the reign of Hodgson; like Poland/Ukraine 2012 was a free shot at a tournament, Brazil 2014 will be somewhat of a ‘’test’ – a notch on the trial and error which we will inevitably see unfold.
England are currently riding the storm of a transitional period. The much famed old guard, with the likes of youthful prospects Jack Rodwell, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are – understandably – being placed in a sieve. Who knows which players will emerge on the other side? Hodgson, while understandably keeping the roots of England focused upon organisation and discipline (Barcelona we ain’t), will have to eventually find a greater balance with attack and defence. But Tuesday night’s game was the second qualifying fixture. We were not perfect – but not so bad that our qualification to Brazil 2014 is in any danger. Howard proclaims, ‘trust England to douse the Olympic flame and the Olympic spirit…24 hours after the Olympic parade, England p*ssed all over it’. Do these journalists realise what they are saying? Surely such hyperbole is rare, right? Surely such jingoism is only apparent in the repellent pages of the Sun. It’s not widespread, is it?
Perhaps not with such spitefulness, no. But the negativity surrounding Hodgson, with the likes of James Lawton from the Independent and John Dillon from the Daily Express joining in the fun, is dyed in the wool. If England do not thrash teams, they are primadona’s and Hodgson’s character should be assassinated within the blink of the eye. This is the absurdity that surrounds our national team. It makes fans and players so desensitized to England. The media will poison and infect until every player is crushed by expectancy and until that same expectancy is so high that anything other than instantaneous triumph is reason for a ruthless, wicked witch hunt. Do you know the worst thing? It will most probably be passed on to future generations.
The impatience of England supporters; the perniciousness of the media; the myopia. Why must it be this way? Every manager who dares to accept the keys to Wembley faces this endless, vicious circle. Reasoned debate becomes obsolete and non-existent when England plays football. We cannot or will not accept a long term plan and trial and error for eventual success. The mistakes in terms of pressure and impatience we have made in the past are never heeded. The team itself is not the embarrassment, but the poison lurking underneath this glossy carapace of patriotism the papers like to depict most certain is.
I will continue to support England and the experienced Roy Hodgson. I will continue to search for intelligent journalism regarding my nation. I will continue to be vocal about how painful the jingoism surrounding Wembley is. But common sense is never heard. We wilt and wither, yet never take the chance to bloom. What’s the point of becoming a journalist? Come on, Mr Howard. What do you think? Actually, now that I think about it, don’t say a word.
I wouldn’t even pay a penny for those thoughts.