Life-long Bees fan and journalist, Jim Levack, shares his thoughts on Mick McCarthy’s post-match reaction to Alan Judge’s horrific injury and his crass defence of Luke Hyam.
A decade ago when DJ Campbell dumped Mick McCarthy’s Sunderland out of the FA Cup, the icing on the cake for many Bees fans was hearing the dour Yorkshireman pay glowing tribute to the underdogs.
As we headed away from Griffin Park still on Cloud Nine, McCarthy’s unmistakeable voice sounded as sweet as the final whistle on 5 Live as he was effusive in his praise for the way Brentford went about their business.
To pinch a Yorkshire phrase, ‘I speak as I bloody well find’ and from that day on I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Big Mick who has always been unerringly honest in his opinions about the game.
Until Saturday at 5pm when he plummeted in my and many other fans’ – of blue and red and white hue – esteem for his callous, cowardly and crass post match comments.
With the engine still warm on the ambulance that took a broken Alan Judge to hospital, there was not the slightest hint of remorse as he blundered into a foul-mouthed rant about why his side had lost.
He barely looked at the camera as he complained that the bone splintering tackle changed the course of the game in Brentford’s favour and poured out all the deflection tactics you normally associate with a manager living on borrowed time.
To rub salt in the horrific wound by revealing that he complained to the referee about the yellow card shows a level of inhumanity that we, fortunately, rarely see on a football pitch in these more tolerant times.
McCarthy is a product of a bygone era when shuddering tackles were the norm, but he’s fast becoming a parody of himself and reminds me more of an extra from the classic “eeeh you were lucky” Monty Python sketch.
His instructions, presumably to ‘let them know you’re there’ were taken too literally by Hyam whose challenge was not only reckless but brutal, cynical and designed to make a physical impression on the Irishman.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Anyone who has played the game at a decent level could see instantly that that challenge did have malice in it even if the boy didn’t mean to break a leg.
Dean Smith’s initial response that it was “naughty” was measured and probably not what he said in the confines of the dressing room. In stark contrast, McCarthy’s decision to make attack the best form of defence was disgusting.
When a player’s every word is placed under the microscope, his every action in or away from the game scrutinised with restrospective action often taken by the powers that be, surely McCarthy’s comments deserve the same examination.
I’d go as far as to say that his churlish and embarrassing comments to the Football on 5 cameras bring the game into disrepute certainly on the grounds that any neutral observer listening to his nonsense would be appalled by his lack of empathy.
I watched Lasse Vibe larking around with one of the ball boys at half time a few weeks ago and was genuinely moved. Here was a professional footballer who still remembered where he came from and what really matters. Then there’s McCarthy.
If his aim was to divert attention away from the perpetrator of the hideous challenge that has robbed Brentford of one of their best ever players at the worst possible time in his career, then I’d say it’s job done.
But I suspect that in his warped mind – a mind where 1950s style barging of keepers into their net is a law that should never have been scrapped – he genuinely thinks the number 19 was harshly treated.
He claims he got the ball. He didn’t, unless you count the trailing leg. His studs were up and it was nasty, a fact thankfully acknowledged by the majority of right-minded Ipswich fans brought up on a proper European brand of football that McCarthy would struggle to comprehend.
He is, as Beesotted editor Dave Lane suggests, a dinosaur who has no place in the modern game. Hopefully his career will very soon be extinct, but given the Old Pals Act that exists within it, I somehow doubt it.
I think I speak for every Brentford fan when I say that I felt sick to the pit of my stomach when I saw one of the club’s top 10 players of all time in agony on the turf.
I was equally proud that his team mates, especially Alan McCormack and Ryan Woods, showed a steel that I’ve felt has sometimes been missing this season, to win it for Judgey.
Hyam has now apologised, which is something, but that fact that McCarthy hasn’t continues to rankle with me almost as much as the challenge itself.
It would be interesting to see what the Football League and Football Managers Association have to say about the whole sad and sordid affair… but I suspect I know what their position would be.
After all we’re Brentford and he’s Mick McCarthy, a bloke I once admired but who now deserves no place in the game.