Smoking gets a bad press. England footballer Wayne Rooney gets a bad press. Put the two together and what do you get? You get the sickeningly sanctimonious London Daily Mail, desperate to flog more papers, frothing righteously around its grubby mouth.
Somebody saw Rooney smoking and, allegedly, urinating in public while on a night out with wife Coleen McLaughlin and, bang, our whole world has come crashing down around us. Never mind oil spills, earthquakes, floods and general pestilence around the world, a Manchester United striker’s slightly indecorous behaviour is the headline act.
“While the rest drank £250 bottles of vodka, Rooney disappeared out of a back door with some of his friends to smoke rolled-up cigarettes [sounds like a lekker doob to me – FH] in the street. Hardly the way a Premier League player who will shortly become United’s highest earner on £130,000 a week should be preparing for the new season. He was even pictured relieving himself against a wall behind a bottle bank when, one would hope, his aim was considerably better than in South Africa where he failed to score a single goal.” huffs and puffs the Daily Mail.
I’m a Liverpool supporter and therefore not Rooney’s greatest fan but I’m fast warming to him. Despite the best efforts of the hypocritical and morally bankrupt British press and his hardcore coaches, Capello and Ferguson, the lad keeps showing us he’s human. Nice.
So he took a swazz in the street. No problemo. We South Africans do that all the time. What, he’s smoked a few fags during the off-season? So what? The legendary French fullback Serge Blanco got through 30 Gitanes a day and he out-ran everybody in the international rugby arena. Legend has it old Serge used to enjoy a good gasper at half-time.
And here’s further proof that “Roo” is in good company…
Dimitar Berbatov may be a completely crap footballer but he looked pretty cool in that, didn’t he. Like a modern-day James Dean. OK. So the video ran out of footballing Italians and South Americans, virtually brought up to smoke, to show and had to fill in with various coaches and old Maradona’s love for a good cigar… but it makes its point. Some footballers smoke.
Big deal. I have a friend who insists on smoking while doing yoga. She calls it “smoga”. I got roped into a five-a-side on Stanford’s village green recently and enjoyed a puff out on the left wing. “Smoccer.” Who says playing sport shouldn’t be fun?
But the Daily Mail got itself into a right tizz over a normal oke doing what comes normally to an oke. Like losing his rag at the England fans who booed his team for playing like a bunch of wet lettuces during the 2010 World Cup (remember that video I gave you here).
Leave the oke alone. He might be just a Manchester United footballer… but he also has a right to live.
* If you scroll up to your right on this page, you’ll see a big fat badge saying something about the 2010 South African Blog Awards. I’ve entered your “diagnosed SA-positive” blog into three categories: Best New Blog, Best Personal Blog and The Kulula Best Travel Blog. I wouldn’t be at all offended if you clicked on that there badge and nominated http://www.fredhatman.co.za in any of these categories (be sure to type in your e-mail address on the blog awards site for your nomination to be registered). In fact, were I to amaze all of us by winning something, the Birkenhead is on me down the Stanford Arms! Cheers!
Fred Hatman (AKA Howard Donaldson) knew he wanted to be newspaper journalist at age 13. He has worked as a reporter and sub-editor for the Daily News and Cape Times, both based in South Africa and Wimbledon News, Today, London Daily News, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror, all based in London .