David Norris and His Controversial Goal Celebration

Alden SingCorrespondent INovember 11, 2008

For those who are unaware and unsure of who David Norris is, let me enlighten you.

Over the weekend, David Norris, an Ipswich Town midfielder, celebrated his goal against Blackpool by making a "handcuff" gesture. At first sight, this gesture was a harmless goal celebration which would have meant nothing for fans who were unaware of his intentions.

However, like most unconventional football celebrations, this gesture had a covert meaning.

It was alleged that Norris made this gesture in support of his good friend Luke McCormick, a former Plymouth goalkeeper, who was jailed for seven years after causing the death of Arron and Ben Peak. When they died, the two were 10 and eight, respectively.

Norris' goal celebration sparked off an avalanche of criticism amongst fans and most notably the victims' mother, Amanda Peak, who labeled Norris' celebration "disgusting" and "disrespectful."

Norris' insensitivity somehow reminded me of Craig Bellamy's infamous golf swing at Barcelona just last year, Robbie Fowler's cocaine-snorting action after scoring against Everton, and Tim Cahill's "handcuff" celebration aimed at his brother who went to jail for a vicious attack.

Now, is it right for footballers to express their personal lives through their goal celebrations? Especially if their celebrations are potentially controversial?

Norris has since been disciplined by his club. He was given a fine and warned against any such conduct in the future.

Norris also apologised, while vehemently insisting, “It wasn’t a handcuff sign, it was a private message but I can see why people have seen it like that. I apologise if anyone was offended by it.”

Somehow I remain unconvinced, not only with his apology but with his denial that his goal celebration had anything to do with his friend in jail.

Football and private lives, especially controversial private lives, should never be mixed. It is alright to remember a good friend and dedicate a goal to him. But handcuff gestures, cocaine-snorting, "dentist chair" gestures, and golf swings are all definite no-nos.

To deny ever having any intention to accompany these actions makes it even worse. What does Norris take football fans for? All a bunch of five-year-old kids? Anyone who was aware of what happened to Luke McCormick and his friendship with Norris can put two and two together.

Such insensitivity also mocks the victims involved. Imagine how Amanda Peak must be feeling?

Football is a sport every single member of the family can enjoy, regardless of age or gender. Hence, anyone watching football will expect only football related controversies. There is simply not a need to mix anything else with it.

With fans paying such exorbitant prices to watch a game nowadays, what they want is merely some good clean entertainment where they can cheer on their heroes. The last thing a football fan needs is another trite goal celebration that serves no purpose other than to glorify the misdeeds of footballers themselves.

It is important that the FA act to keep such nonsense off-field permanently and ban players like David Norris, whose action has provoked both unnecessary controversy for fans and misery for the victims who were involved.