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Monday, March 19, 2012

Reality breaks out in the middle of a football match

On Saturday around six I was in a room with two TVs. One was showing the England-Ireland rugby match. The other, which I was watching out of the corner of my eye, had the Spurs-Bolton game on with the sound turned down.

I glanced across at the football and suddenly saw the genuinely shocked faces of the players as they reacted to Fabrice Muamba's collapse. When a player is in real peril on a football pitch the other players know it instantly and react accordingly. Their behaviour in these circumstances is so radically different from the usual operatic simulation of agony which is their stock in trade that it's surprising they don't find it more embarrassing. It's as if an actor in Romeo & Juliet has suddenly stopped the fight scene because somebody has really been stabbed.

You can't help thinking none of those players will ever be able to run on a pitch in quite the same way again.