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We need to talk about Darren

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Heard the one about the Englishman, Irishman and the Scotsman?

Bolton Wanderers v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Last night’s defeat at the KCOM Stadium was hard to stomach. Bolton Wanderers were predictable and mundane on the ball, and lethargic off it. When you go anywhere in The Championship, your side needs the energy to compete, to turn a 70-30 into a 50-50 and let the opponents know that they will need to work hard for any points they earn from the game. Hull City barely moved out of second gear as they steamrolled over Wanderers with little resistance. The only tackle of any note was David Meyler’s assault on Jem Karacan, which the referee didn’t appear to see. Turning to see captain Karacan writhing on the turf, he played it safe and showed Meyler a yellow card. Meyler was lucky: he had ended Karacan’s involvement in the game and somehow managed to maintain his.

The only thing more enraging than the offering of the side on the pitch was the behaviour of some individuals off it. I’m going to avoid using the terms “fans” wherever possible, because the term doesn’t do them justice. “Supporter” definitely doesn’t. It all started with Meyler’s horror tackle on Karacan. Phil Parkinson decided to replace Karacan with club captain Darren Pratley, a forced change with just fifteen minutes gone. Some unsuccessful Jeremy Kyle applicants among the away fans took it upon themselves to boo their side’s captain onto the pitch. I don’t care how bad a player is, nobody deserves that shambolic level of treatment before they’ve even had a chance to put a foot wrong. No wonder his confidence is shot.

Like the Birmingham City away game, I had the chance to sit in the vicinity of one of our less enlightened brethren (struggling for synonyms for fan at this point). Before Hull had even taken the lead, I was bored of his ramblings. “Why are we playing five at the back again?”, “Taylor and Morais aren’t Championship standard”, “Buckley should be playing on the wing”. Now, there may be varying levels of truth to these comments, but it’s a little bit like hearing the same joke again and again. The more you hear it, the angrier it makes you. One day, I’ll tell you about the Englishman, Irishman and the Scotsman hiding from the Nazis, and three sacks of potatoes. You’ll love it. And then I’ll tell you it again. And again. And again. I’ll tell the very same joke to you until you wish the Nazis had won.

And I can hear you already, the “I pay my money so I’ll say what I want”. I have to say, you’re not only wrong but selfish. It’s a little bit like going to a restaurant, declaring after the starters that this is the worst meal you’ve ever eaten, and you’ve eaten some bad meals in your time. The entire room is subjected to hearing this drivel, and you’re asked politely to leave the establishment. Protesting that you’ve paid your bus fair to be here just doesn’t cut it. You can equate your opinion to the money you’ve spent getting there, but you’ve ruined the night of the people around you. But you don’t care, do you? You’ve paid your money. You’ll boo who you want.

If you’ve paid £12 for your ticket, and arranged travel by bus, rail or car, and even splashed out on four beers and a Maccies, just to abuse your football club from the stands, let me tell you now. Don’t ask for a refund, you haven’t earned one. You’re wasting your money watching Bolton Wanderers. May I suggest buying one of those magazines from the top shelf, a box of man size Kleenex (I imagine the sexist branding wouldn’t put you off the product, indeed quite the opposite) and a lock for your bedroom door? That way, you can bring some fleeting carnal satisfaction to your life, instead of the sadistic pleasure you get out of the failures of your own football club. And your mother, whom I assume you still live with, won’t disturb you.

I have to add a caveat to this rant against the self-appointed Goon Squad who abuses our captain. It wouldn’t be fair of me to only concentrate on the negatives from last night. That would make me as bad as you. That’s right, I said it. I’m a better fan, supporter and person than you. You out sang the home support despite the dire performance from the players. It was more of a gesture-off with the home end than a rallying cry to the team, but it made for a good atmosphere that the team’s performance didn’t deserve. Some of you left when the third went in. I get it. You just couldn’t watch any more of it. I understand.

This season is going to be a long slog. There’ll be more hammerings, both home and away. If you can’t stomach that, spend your hard earned money elsewhere. Get yourself a subscription to Razzle and stock pile the tissues. And do me a favour, leave Darren Pratley alone. He’s taken enough abuse from you already. It’s like that joke about the Nazi potatoes. Well, the potatoes weren’t Nazis, but you know what I mean. I’ve heard too much of it already.