What's said in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room
In an era where big brother is watching is it any surprise that the football dressing room, the dearly held inner sanctum of a club, is now accommodating of cameras recording footage of pre-match preparation and rituals?
Such a scenario is still the exception rather than the rule but its emergence into modern day viewing was magnified last weekend when a non-Old Firm player was filmed celebrating Celtic scoring during their derby win. As the moment of joy was captured in the players home dressing room prior to his team's crucial fixture, the incident has been the catalyst for much discussion in the football community.
I think that there are two issues to consider; firstly, should the changing room remain off limits and the mantra of what goes on in this room, stays in this room be upheld to the letter and is it naive to believe that players will not hold great affection for the club they supported as a boy, even though they are a professional playing for another side?
The dressing room is losing its privacy. Photo: SNS
With respect to the first point I am not entirely sure what benefits a fan gets from seeing only pictures of a dressing room. I am sure most are capable of imagining such a scene and therefore the real interest within this scene is what is being said. If there was audio available alongside the pictures then undoubtedly viewers would gain real and rarely available insight into what happens at top clubs.
If this was the case then everyone would be aware of exactly what comments are made or what arguments are had in the aftermath of victory or defeat but such access would, I am sure, meet with almost universal objection from players.
The reason being that players (and managers) acknowledge and respect the privacy of what is said within dressing room walls, and are aware that any breaches of this trust are usually harmful to a team's chances of success.
Probably the most common example of this breaking down is when managers publicly criticise players, having failed to do so in person within the changing room. If the criticism is aired to the media and fans in the wake of a dressing room dressing down then players have less complaint - some still don't like it but most accept it, especially if it has been justified.
Therefore, if the intrusion of a television camera within the dressing room is viewed by some players as inappropriate it pales into insignificance when compared to the public airing of opinion by either player or manager that compromises team spirit.
If the cameras are here to stay then would they catch other players showing their support for other clubs? I would suggest they would although my own personal opinion is that even if I had such feeling for a rival team it would not be at the forefront of my thoughts as I prepared for a match.
I must also point out that I have played alongside several players who maintained a support for and attended matches at the club they grew up to follow and never have I believed it diluted their desire to win for the club they were playing for. Having the honour of representing a club and its supporters should be enough to ensure you want success regardless of any previous affection for that team.
Finally, there is one very good reason for not having footage shown from dressing rooms and that is to save players the embarrassment of watching their antics! I know there would be several examples of me reacting to comments in the heat of the moment and behaving in a manner I would happily acknowledge as unacceptable on second viewing.
The worst I can recall was the changing room at Love Street after St Mirren defeated Rangers. A great result and a terrific occasion but my manager Gus McPherson and I had exchanged words late in the game and he rightly brought the matter up as the game finished. Needless to say, a frank exchange of views followed during which I took my boots off and threw them in the bin!
As the dust settled, emotions calmed and we enjoyed the win but with me suffering the indignity of having to fish my boots out from among the rubbish. Plus, the manager was right!