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What's said in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room

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Jack Ross | 08:56 UK time, Monday, 28 February 2011

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?

Dressing room

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!


  • Comment number 1.

    i think the only point of cameras in the changing rooms would be to catch a future you tube posting and to over sensationalise a comment or gesture which someone thought was done in private. Personally i dont see the point.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with comment @1. I can see that it should offer some insight to the management process and a better understanding of the tactics employed to calm, motivate etc. However, I judge that it is more likely to be used as a source of more salacious used to further denigrate the game. Don't see the point really especially when the real fans are in the stadium...

  • Comment number 3.

    I personally thought McCluskey was just behaving like a daft wee boy playing up in front of the camera's. I know some Saints fans wanted him sacked but I think the bigger question is why were the players watching the game at all and not focusing on the Hibs game instead?

    It's also interesting to read that you had a bust up with wee Gus after Rangers, yet to my knowledge this was never made public.

    I only wish the current St Mirren manager showed as much discretion and avoided interviews about John Potters using a pumpkin as a toilet and his public criticism of players.
    I find it hard to believe players would hold much respect for a manager that is quite so public with his assessment of his playing staff.

  • Comment number 4.

    no secrecy in football please

  • Comment number 5.

    Good lord, the dressing room is where the boys get changed, surley they are entitled to get undressed without having to look around and check Davina Macall or some other TV nobody isn't waiting to poke their microphone about excitedly?

    Give them the dressing room at least. Anyone who saw my mate Wayne the ****'s antics in the dressing room would know it's not family viewing.

    See also Imre Varadi.....anyone know that story?

  • Comment number 6.

    Why is there such limited access to players after matches? There are the two minute interviews with SKY/BBC or whomever outside the dressing rooms, but thats your lot.
    In America the media are allowed into the dressing rooms of Major League Baseball teams after the players have been spoken to by their manager and have showered and changed etc. Almost every player is interviewed and there are long post match shows in television where you get inside the dressing rooms to hear the thoughts and opinions of plenty of the players. Why can this not happen in football? I understand there has to be some level or privacy immediately after a game but why cant't the media have more access to the footballers? Imagine after the Man U v Wigan last week, wouldn't it be nice if the reporters got in Rooney's face to ask him about the elbowing incident?.....just my tuppance worth...

  • Comment number 7.

    You wouldnt see sky cameras in an english dressing room. The scottish game is a soft touch for the Sky bigwigs, total sell outs.

  • Comment number 8.

    There are a lot of disgruntled St Mirren fans who see the incident in question as a sign of lack of professionalism among the squad and commitment to the club. This happened the same week as the club's official website was launched with a new logo 'One Town, One Team'. What were the team doing in the dressing room an hour before their own crucial game watching the Old Firm game on TV? We don't expect that everyone, or even anyone, who plays for St Mirren will have grown up supporting us but do expect that when you are a professional player wearing the club colours in the team dressing room and on live TV that you are not going to celebrate a goal by another team in the same league as if you've just knocked in the winner at the World Cup Final! We also expected some kind of apology from the management about another gutless performance in an important game... yet again no goals scored against another bottom 6 team, very few goal scoring chances created, and we expected some kind of apology from the player. Sadly, McCluskey made things worse by giving a newspaper interview where he said it was no big deal and compounded things by saying it was natural if you grow up in the West of Scotland that you will support either Celtic or Rangers... no doubt he was still wearing his St Mirren gear when he gave that interview as well! He seems to forget that other West of Scotland teams include Ayr, Kilmarnock, Morton, St Mirren, Dumbarton, Clyde, Partick Thistle, Airdrie, Motherwell, Hamilton, Queens Park, and the fact their fans have chosen not to support the 2 big successful clubs in the area and to support their local team instead.

    We do expect players to respect the club and fans who pay their wages and to show a bit of pride and commitment to us... something McCluskey has failed to do during the incident and then during his subsequent newspaper interview.

    The incident has made the club look foolish for watching the game in the dressing room when they should have been focusing on their own game instead, and it has been a massive PR own goal to have one of our own staff celebrate a Celtic goal while wearing our colours and compound the situation by saying most people in this part of the world support the Old Firm so it's no big deal when the incident coincides with the club trying to appeal for more local and more vocal backing from its hometown.

    Next time I go to St Mirren Park i am going to take a stash of second hand Rangers and Celtic scarves to throw at the St Mirren team as they go down the tunnel at the end of the game

  • Comment number 9.

    Should there be camera's in the dressing room? Fine if that is what fills the void for people.

    I'm sure its probably more entertaining than your average soap opera.

    Not sure why people are annoyed at McCluskey. I'm sure the guy is committed to doing well for himself and his current club but can just about understand it slightly given the league position of Saints and Hamilton (after all its just between the two of them who is going down, though probably Hamilton I think). Storm in a teacup.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you for your comments.

    The general seems to be that there is no real benefit or insight from having cameras in the dressing room.

    If there is to be more access to clubs and their preparations then perhaps fans would prefer to see footage of a match day from a manager's perspective both pre and post match. The BBC Late Kick Off programme did something along these lines recently with Paul Dickov who is mangager of Oldham Athletic.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes the dressing room looks tame compared to what happens on the park.

    Can someone not find a WWF slot for Diouf and Lennon to work their issues out in a controlled environment.

  • Comment number 12.

    @ 11. Rob you are a Rangers fan. Imagine Rangers are playing Aberdeen and kick off less than an hour after Celtic v Hearts finishes. Can you imagine Rangers preparing for any league match by watching a Celtic game in their dressing room just before their own kick off? How would Rangers fans feel if one of their players in the dressing room did the same thing and leapt out his seat urging Celtic to score and went bananas with joy when they did, oh and following that imagine Rangers then hardly getting a shot on target in their game against Aberdeen and losing a late goal. Imagine these games decides who wins the league... are you saying Rangers fans would think it was a good way to prepare for a crucial game by watching the telly in the run up to kick off? Are you saying Rangers fans would be happy to see a player in their own dressing room and club suit and tie urging Celtic to score and celebrating when they do?

    St Mirren fans are shocked by the regularly honking performances under Danny Lennon, the lack of commitment, organisation, leadership and goal threat in the team and this incident sums up the lackadaisical approach of the management team for what was a crucial game. We are also shocked that instead of McCluskey making some kind of short apology to the St Mirren fans he has aggravated the situation by telling St Mirren fans it is normal to support Celtic or Rangers if you grow up in the West of Scotland and he has no regrets about his behaviour on live TV while he was supposed to be representing St Mirren FC. A complete embarrassment to the club, an embarrassing that the club seem to have taken no action and seem to have backed teh guy who has embarrassed the fans no end.

  • Comment number 13.


    I can understand your view on it as I said above but I'm sure the boy is a committed player for you. Not everyone plays for the team they support and I'm not sure the boy would even have been aware that he would be shown on TV doing this given that the incident was shown some time after the goal. The more cameras are in dressing rooms, the more players will have such an awareness and probably play up on it more than anything else. Can't comment on the Newspaper piece I'm afraid sorry, as I haven't read it.

    I'm a Celtic fan but not C-minded enough to bother with who the players support so long as they are committed to the team they play for. King Kenny was I believe a Rangers fan growing up. But a good quote I heard in recent years was from Gordon Strachan who as Celtic manager was asked how great was it to watch Billy McNeill lift the European Cup when he was a youngster. WGS replied that he missed it because he was too busy watching the Hibees to bother much with Celtic. He will no doubt have miffed some with that kind of comment but I thought it was witty enough.

    Saints have struggled this year no doubt and really hope you stay up because you've always been a club that has produced some very fine players down the years but you are getting isolated with Hamilton down there. Big risk to take on Danny Lennon from a lower league but on the other hand if you survive this season, the next one just might be better once the guy has had a chance to breathe in the job and get a measure of the level of the SPL.

  • Comment number 14.

    Danny Lennon has been playing 5 defenders in every SPL game and even in cup games against 2nd division opponents, sometimes staring with 4 central defenders across the back and with a defender in midfield helping out the 3 central holding midfielders... not surprising we have had 6 out of the last 9 SPL games where we haven't scored! More surprising is the fact that we have had 2 clean sheets out of 9 with so many defenders and defensive midfielders in the starting XI!

    This is the same guy who said he was wanting to make us a more attractive and attacking team and who also said St Mirren would be trying to win home and away against everyone in the league... yet most games we muster less than 5 shots in the whole game.

  • Comment number 15.

    Must struggle though to get a decent size squad together but SM are financially okay. You need to stay up in the SPL.

  • Comment number 16.

    Don't know that the St.Mirren thing is about, but cameras in changing rooms? It's not for me.

  • Comment number 17.

    1. The changing room should be, and always remain, off limits!

    2. Only natural to have a soft spot for your boyhood team, pro, or not.. But you should give 100% for the club that pays your wages.

  • Comment number 18.

    Dpes anyone have a link to this?



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