Former Manchester United midfielder Paddy Crerand gave an extraordinary interview to BBC Radio Five Live in response to the trouble which marred Sunday’s Manchester derby.
United defender Rio Ferdinand was hit by a coin thrown from the crowd as he celebrated Robin van Persie’s late winner, but when it was suggested to Crerand that Ferdinand’s celebrations in front of Manchester City fans may have played a part in the incident, he responded angrily to presenters Chris Warburton and Rachel Burden.
Chris Warburton: We’ve had a lot of people getting in touch saying the players have to take a bit of responsibility, stop celebrating in front of opposing fans and stoking it up. I just wondered what your thoughts are on that?
Paddy Crerand: Who’s said that? Who’s made that statement?
CW: We’ve had various calls and texts from our listeners, Paddy.
PC: What planet do they live on?
CW: Well, you tell me.
PC: Well, I’ve no idea. I was at the game yesterday, do you expect fans not to celebrate when their team scores a goal?
CW: No, no, what they’re suggesting is players are going up to opposing fans and celebrating in front of them and that that stokes the crowd up.
PC: I was at the game yesterday and that is absolute rubbish. Who suggested that, and where did that come from? Absolute garbage. How many people phoned you up? One? Two? Three?
CW: No, no, we’ve had various texts this morning saying the same thing as well.
PC: Well how many? Tell me how many. If you’re going to make a statement like you’re making a statement now, tell me how many.
CW: Just take it from me that we have had a good number of texts...
PC: I’m not taking it from you, you tell me.
CW: Well, I haven’t got it to hand Paddy.
PC: Well why make a statement then, if you haven’t got it to hand? No I’m not taking it from you, why do you make a statement like that when you haven’t got the evidence?
CW: Well, what do you think of the point?
PC: I think the point is absolutely ludicrous. You go to a football match, or any sporting situation, and you think people shouldn’t celebrate? What planet are you people on at all?
CW: No, no, that’s not what’s being suggested.
PC: That’s what you’re suggesting.
CW: In terms of...
PC: In terms of what? Now you’re making excuses for yourself.
CW: I was going to ask you a different question Paddy.
PC: Go on then.
CW: In terms of the environment at a derby, how has it changed from when you were playing?
PC: It’s not changed in any way whatsoever. I don’t care that it’s a derby, or any football match, people celebrate when their team scores a goal. What do you expect them to do, be quiet? I don’t know what you’re suggesting, I’m totally amazed. Just a minute — is this a publicity stunt?
CW: No. I think I’ve been quite clear in what I’m saying to you Paddy. Let me ask you a question about the football.
PC: Yeah, well ask me a sensible question then. Don’t talk stupid and ask me daft questions about whether fans should celebrate or not.
CW: Well we asked Danny Mills the question about an hour ago, Paddy, and he gave us quite a reasonable answer.
PC: Well what did he say to you? I’ve no idea what Danny Mills says to you, what was his reasonable answer?
CW: He told us that you can’t hold players in any way responsible.
PC: Of course you can’t. Why make a thing about a sensible answer that Danny Mills gave you that people should celebrate? Of course they should celebrate.
Rachel Burden: I think there might be a bit of misunderstanding here. A number of people texted the programme and people called Five Live...
PC: How many texts? A million?
RB: If you’d let me finish...
PC: Half a million?
RB: If you’d let me finish...
PC: Hundred thousand?
RB: If you’d let me finish the point...
RB: ...and the point was about Rio Ferdinand going down to an area where home fans were and celebrating in front of them.
PC: Let me say something to you. Did you watch the game yesterday?
RB: I listened to it.
PC: Well you didn’t watch it then, you don’t know what happened then. Rio Ferdinand was nowhere near where the away fans — where the home fans were. He gets struck by a coin that somebody’s thrown from about 15 or 20 yards, it’s not like he was standing in front of their supporters jumping up and down. He was 15 or 20 yards from their fans.
RB: Do you remember things like that happening when you were playing in these derbies?
PC: I don’t remember anything like that happening, no.
RB: So do you think the atmosphere has got worse over the years?
PC: Why did you change commentators? Why have you come on all of a sudden?
RB: That’s just the way it works on the programme, we both join in together.
CW: Don’t worry, I haven’t run scared Paddy.
PC: Oh, I thought you’d run away there for a minute. No, but let me say, it was a great football match, no question about that. When it went to two each, I thought City were the team that were going to win it.
Manchester United finished up winning with a deflected goal and you can’t not accept the fact that fans would celebrate when the third goal went in. And derby matches are a lot different from ordinary matches, obviously, but why somebody would throw something at Rio Ferdinand is totally stupid. Why a fan would run on the pitch... and to be fair to Manchester City, a United fan ran on to the pitch last year when United beat City 4-3. So the effects of football on people sometimes can go to the extreme, it shouldn’t happen but it does happen unfortunately. And particularly in matches that are local derbies.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved