IT’S HAPPENED, JUST DON’T LET IT FESTER
AS A former Preston player, it was sad to see Jermaine Beckford and Eoin Doyle come to blows last weekend. It brought headlines and national coverage for all the wrong reasons. I think manager Simon Grayson and the club handled it very, very well, but the damage was done. There are 72 club in the EFL. Hundreds of players. I guarantee there will be heated exchanges every week. I was never confrontational in my career, but I do remember one time with big Gary Madine at Sheffield Wednesday. We were playing Walsall away and it was actually very similar to the situation between Doyle and Beckford. The dying minutes with us chasing a result. Gary wanted me to pass him the ball, but I was in a shooting position, took it on and the keeper made a save. He gave me a mouthful, then wouldn’t let it go. In the end, we carried on the argument into the changing room at full-time. There were no punches thrown, which is lucky for me. Gary’s a big guy and I was thinking to myself ‘I don’t fancy my chances here’. The last thing I wanted was for it to kick off! In the end, I was the senior player so it was incumbent on me to take the abuse and let him calm down. We talked it over, had a laugh about it on the Monday and nobody held any grudges. Gary is a great lad and somebody I’ve got a lot of time for. At the end of the day, football is passionate. It’s also frustrating at times. You may be bothered by an injury, by being out of the team or struggling for form. There’s a lot of factors that can have an effect on your mental state, make you act uncharacteristically, or react more quickly to provocation. In the case of Eoin and Jermaine, I’m sure both will be frustrated they haven’t had more influence on Preston’s season. But save it for the training ground or the dressing room after matches. On matchday, you’re representing your club on a public stage and you simply cannot behave as Doyle and Beckford did. I just hope Simon and the senior players stepped in straight away and made sure they dealt with it there and then. Arguments happen. People fall out. But if it drags on and festers, it can cause massive problems for a squad.