Schoolyard stuff does nobody any favours

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It's all getting a bit playground now, isn't it?

Firstly came Wayne Bridge's refusal to shake John Terry's hand before the Chelsea-Man City game on Saturday. That's Bridge's prerogative, and we'd simply ask if there's any precedent for being expected to complete the essentially meaningless social ritual of hand-shaking with someone who everybody knows shagged your partner behind your back.

But then came the reaction. After commentators and pundits had spent an exhausting few hours attempting to relate every little incident to the affair, they finally found their ideal quote-generator in the tunnel after the game.

Craig Bellamy was never going to hold his tongue when prodded, drenched in sweat and high on adrenaline, into commenting on Terry.

Bellamy's most widely-disseminated quote has been "Everybody in football knows what the guy is like. But that is off the field." In other words, 'I couldn't possibly say what everyone else is saying, nudge nudge, wink wink'.

Or as your mum might say, perhaps it's better to say nothing and let people think you're an idiot...

But no, in this tawdry tale a dignified silence is the last thing we can expect. JT has apparently lunged back in with a challenge as ill-advisedly robust and mistimed as any of his recent on-field errors: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones". What are you, 10 years old?

By rising to it - he might as well have said "I know you are, but what am I?" - Terry has simply helped to keep the story in the media spotlight by giving it another spin, a process excellently described by Charlie Brooker on Newswipe.

Football's moral compass long since went haywire. "Hatchet men" have long been red-blooded heroes on your team, hated on the opposition's. But few who have watched this sad morality play of millionaires, models, infidelity and "PR gurus" have applauded Terry's actions and ethics.

True, there has been vocal support from those wearing Chelsea replica tops, even if some first-teamers have been texting their embarrassed condolences to Bridge. But it wouldn't help anyone's case to follow adultery with childishness.

Terry has made no public comment about Vanessa Perroncel. That can surely be the only way to move forward. It shows a wisdom in the Terry camp that might not have been expected when an email last November amateurishly hawked the availability of the then England captain for lucrative endorsements.

Terry reacted quickly to distance himself from that unseemly landgrab, and one the following month when his associate was accused of requesting money for a tour of Chelsea's facilities. He also acted with dignity when the tabloids gleefully entrapped his father and gloatingly reported his mother and mother-in-law's caution for shoplifting.

So it would be a great pity if the "glass houses" quote signalled a change in his mindset or media outlook.

Clearly Terry needs to move on with his professional and personal life: to repair the damage done, each needs his careful attention, but only one is worthy of coverage by the football media. Whether or not JT can patch up his marriage is of far less concern to football fans than whether he can improve his form in time for the World Cup.

At the moment Fabio Capello's first-choice centre-backs are a permacrock with a reputation for daydreaming and an increasingly flat-footed ex-captain apparently enraged with events off the field to the point at which his game is going seriously awry.

Rio Ferdinand's ongoing injury concerns are a separate matter but the Italian will be enraged if Terry allows events and quotes off the field to affect his performance on it.

And the former school-team captain squabbling with the playground bigmouth won't impress the headmaster one bit.

Gary Parkinson is the Editor of

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