Aaron Cawley is a loser. His only notable achievement in 21 years on the planet has been to sucker-punch Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland, and he didn’t even get that right. Instead of delivering a man’s punch, something that might leave a mark, he unloaded a panicky two handed push, the kind of thing a feisty old lady might do if someone grabbed her handbag. He has brought shame on himself, on his presumably long-suffering mother and his much-maligned football club.
But what has he actually lost? You can’t sack him from anything because he hasn’t got a job. He’s lost 16 weeks of liberty, but that will probably be reduced to eight if he can somehow last two months inside without creeping up behind any wardens and slapping them in the mouth. He’s the subject of a long banning order, but it’s the kind of banning order that he has already repeatedly defied. It’s not enough. He needs to be hit where it hurts. He needs to be sacked as a Leeds United supporter.
Cawley doesn’t care about much, but he does care about Leeds. We know this because he has the crest of the club tattooed on his arm and ‘LUFC’ scrawled on his neck. I always worry about people with neck tattoos. They seem a rather indelible resignation letter to the employment market. Nevertheless, in this case, it’s a clear advertisement to Cawley’s weakness. Despite having been born and bred in Cheltenham, he really, really loves Leeds. So let’s take Leeds away from him.
All clubs should have the power to sack fans, much as Kings used to have the power to banish troublesome subjects. It would, of course, be a largely symbolic gesture, but I can guarantee that it would hurt the likes of Cawley far more than any fine. It is something of a cliché to say that people like him aren’t real fans, that they’re just hooligans, but in many cases a hooligan defines themselves by their club more than other supporters. In fact, they tend to believe that they are far more loyal than the average season ticket holder because they are prepared to physically fight and to bleed for what they perceive to be the honour of their club. The badge means everything to them, which is precisely why it should be taken away. We could make a day of it. We could get an appropriate club legend, perhaps Norman Hunter in this case, to make a statement to the press, perhaps along these lines:
“It is my solemn duty today,” Hunter would announce from underneath an enormous symbolic hat, “to announce that Aaron Cawley has been sacked as a Leeds United supporter and banished from our ranks forever. No longer may he bask in the reflected glow of our success, such as it is. No more may he celebrate our goals in the pub. We ask that he deposit his replica shirts in the nearest charity shop and that he pull down his posters and change his Leeds United duvet to a penitent charcoal grey. Cawley has shamed us all with his cowardice, he has reinforced the tired media view that we are ‘Dirty Leeds’, rather than just another club with its share of morons. Because of his actions, our supporters will again be treated with suspicion and contempt for the foreseeable future, herded like animals by police, targeted and tormented by local hardmen with a point to prove. Thanks. For. That. People of Leeds, we will march on together. Cawley? You’re not invited.”