Issue Sympathy for the Devil

As told by Ron Beaumont

When you need a good word the English language has plenty to choose from but just occasionally it is necessary to borrow one from elsewhere.

“Schadenfreude” has no single English equivalent but is an appropriate term for a common football emotion – delight in the misfortune of others.

There will be many who took great delight in Milwall’s victory last night but is it time to think why?

Whatever our respective fortunes next season it will be at least 2010/11 before we can hope for the renewal of the local derby we all love to see on a league basis. So is it time for a comparison?

Two neighbouring clubs both with recent financial troubles and fading successes now exist in the lower leagues. Both have experienced “failure” this season and both need to restructure and review playing staff as a consequence.

We are all too aware of the hold that some of our expensive staff have on us in terms of contracts – we need to offload costly players and come to terms with a reduced budget. This is the reality here and it would seem to be the case down the road as managerial “vultures” survey the pickings left after defeat. Some will be easier to move on than others, we may even gain financially from their end of season sale, but an upward move for a player is more likely there than at Valley Parade.

We need players who want to play for City not those who just want a job. A commitment to a club is not easy to achieve on reduced wages. “Stars” who sit tight in the hope of improved offers from elsewhere may find that they get cramp from sitting rather than playing.

However the contract conundrum pans out, I think it is us that stands the best chance of the two for promotion next season. If we don’t lose high-earning players we can at least get them to play to their potential. If they go, we already have the shopping list that takes account of our limited spending power. They may get more money down the road but finding effective replacements is not going to be easy – money can make mistakes as we know all too well.

Which brings me back to Schadenfreude. It has its place. I can recall chanting “Stuart, Stuart , What’s the score?” when he returned to play against us for Everton in a 3-1 victory for the Bantams and a good victory at that.

It was a taunt – fun but not malicious. But I can not subscribe to the way in recent seasons that we have turned a blind eye to some dismal performances and instead taken some kind of pleasure in failure elsewhere. I see no sense in cheering losing scorelines in another division when we have been watching some of our own players give less than their best. “We’ve lost but so have they” is no consolation whatever to me.

So is it time for perhaps a small change in action if not attitude? Do we really need to have another season where scorelines from “them” are flashed up at our games in order to raise a cheer? Those who are keen to know what is going on with the Beeston Boys have access to personal technology to keep them informed. Personally I prefer to watch and encourage my team rather than cheer an irrelevant result.

When we play in the same division maybe then I’ll reconsider. Until then, rather than deny history, I’ll focus on the future and forget schadenfreude – at least until the ref falls over anyway.