You really have to wonder sometimes, about the justice of our legal system. Imagine if you were in a bar, had a few too many to drink, and some guy changes the music on the CD player, and you don’t like it. You go over to him with a group of your bezzie mates in tow, and deliver a couple of well-practiced punches to bring him back into line. The whole affair is caught on CCTV and when your head clears in the morning, you know that you’ve been a twat, and you know you’re in trouble.
Not Steven Gerrard though, he can do no wrong. He had one of those nights back in December, but months later he walks from the court room with his “reputation intact” because he was found to be acting in self defence. However, Gerrard’s mates, who aren’t famous footballers, all admitted and were found guilty of affray, which shows startling inconsistency in my book. I think this is ridiculous, and I would have to heartily disagree with Judge Henry Globe who assured Gerrard that his reputation is safe. I think he’s scum.
I’m not saying that footballers shouldn’t be able to go out and enjoy themselves, not at all. They’re only human, and they like a drink and a sing-song as much as the next guy. However, they do have a responsibility to behave in a certain manner, because of the high profile nature of their work, they are idolised by kids everywhere, and so they need to think about how they behave. What they certainly shouldn’t do, is be arrogant enough to believe that they have the right to choose the music in a public bar, and then get violent when they are denied that liberty.
Which is exactly what Gerrard did. And to clear him on terms of self defence is frankly ridiculous. Here’s the CCTV footage to prove it:
As you can see, Gerrard moves across to Marcus McGee (with whom he had his disagreement) and started having a conversation with him. Obviously there’s no sound there, but you can be fairly sure, given what happened, that it wasn’t a friendly chit-chat. Clearly McGee didn’t enjoy being insulted and so stood up fairly aggressively (o:29), getting in Gerrard’s face. Maybe not the wisest of actions, but few people would sit there and be abused, and you can’t blame him for standing up for himself.
Now if Gerrard had hit him then, his claim that he acted in self-defence may have been justified. The man had stood up and was aggressively close to him. However, soon Gerrard’s mates piled across and surrounded the two of them (0:50). As soon as that happened, Gerrard’s self defence claim falls entirely flat in my book. Gerrard was suddenly part of a large group of allies facing a lone man who was cornered against the bar. He was under no duress at all because however drunk his nemesis was, he wasn’t going to be stupid enough to attack a group of about six blokes single-handedly.
Then one of Gerrard’s accomplices threw the first punch (0:53) and it sure looked a good one, McGee was reeling, he stumbled backwards into the bar and then fell forwards, when Gerrard delivered a few punches with the speed and power of a professional boxer (0:56), as a witness described it to the court. Gerrard was then dragged away from the fight, and as the video goes on to show at length, was restrained by his friends because he was clearly eager to go back for some more.
Given that this CCTV footage was available for use in the trial, I really am at a loss to explain quite how Gerrard was judged to have been acting in self-defence. Anyone with eyes can see in the video that although he may not have instigated the aggressive behaviour, he certainly was in no danger himself and he wasted no time in weighing in with some fairly heavy blows. No, I fail to see how he was protecting himself there, I have to say that it looks more like the cowardly behaviour of a playground bully.
Surrounded by his mates who’ve got his back, he outnumbered the weaker, less cool and famous man and intimidated him, before weighing in with a bit of good old fashioned physical violence. Quite how Gerrard managed to walk out of that courtroom with his reputation intact is beyond me. Hell, all the other blokes were found guilty of affray, and only one of them is shown clearly to have thrown a single punch on the video. Gerrard clearly throws a few, although he did claim that only one connected, somehow seeming to believe that that made it OK.
Of course, when the judge stated that he could “walk away from this court with [his] reputation intact”, perhaps he didn’t mean it as a glowing compliment. Indeed, I’ve not been a fan of Gerrard for a long time, and it is not just a result of my Evertonian bias. While I admire his playing abilities greatly, I’ve often seen him become aggressive and dirty on the pitch, and he is well known for his willingness to cheat on the pitch, going down ridiculously easily and buying penalties from gullible officials: incidents in last season’s Merseyside derby and Liverpool’s clash with Atletico spring to mind.
Then of course, there is the infamous ‘challenge’ (used in the very loosest sense of the word) on Gary Naysmith, where, as the picture below illustrates, there was only one thing on Gerrard’s mind, and it sure wasn’t the ball:
He was suspended for three games as a result of that tackle, but at that disciplinary hearing he again told fibs, stating that he “tried to pull back” and “never intended to hurt him“. Much like his claims of self defence in this most recent trial, I find it very difficult to see eye to eye with Gerrard’s claims and think he is very much clutching at straws, so I’ll be interested to see whether you agree with me.
So when the judge suggested he left with his reputation intact, perhaps he was well aware of Gerrard’s previous crimes. He leaves the court as he entered it, with a reputation of being an aggressive and violent human being who is fortunate enough to have a high profile job that allows him to avoid any serious recriminations for his despicable actions. It is worrying when you see people like Gerrard so blatantly avoiding justice, and makes you wonder about the workings of our legal system.
Of course, a high profile job doesn’t guarantee you a ‘get-out-of-jail-free-card’, just ask Duncan Ferguson and Joey Barton. Big Dunc did nothing more than headbutt a player on the pitch (I’m not condoning it, but how many times has it happened since) to earn a stretch in Barlinnie, while Barton too went down last year. Barton blatantly deserved it, but his actions weren’t so different from Gerrard’s. I suppose perhaps members of the jury may have had half an eye on next Summer’s World Cup, and didn’t want to affect Gerrard’s preparations.
If anything, this verdict simply increases the ever-widening gap between footballers and the rest of society. Already paid stupid amounts of money, there’s now a precedent that allows them to assault people in bars, whereas us regular Joe’s would be slapped with a hefty fine at the very least. And while the law isn’t there to make an example of people, you have to say that it might have been good if Gerrard had gone down – it would have shown all footballers that they are not above the law, that no matter how high profile they are, they have to obey the laws like the mere mortals they forget they are.
Of course, had Gerrard gone down, it would no doubt have affected his season, and while that would have completely sabotaged Liverpool’s title challenge and been bad news for England’s World Cup bid (though arguably he’d have been fresher if he missed some of the season) it would have been entirely justified. It’s disappointing to see that Gerrard, a player who is admired by millions of kids everywhere, has no sense of responsibility, but it’s even more disappointing to see that no one has the balls to stand up to him.
Apart from Marcus McGee of course, but all he got was a good beating for his troubles.