Thu, 18 August 2022 at 7:00 am
The last time West Bromwich Albion won at Swansea City, as I was walking away from the ground, a carful of their fans treated me to a volley of the foulest abuse, focusing on my team, my looks and my professional competence. On one hand, it didn’t bother me that much. I understood their pain at the defeat and the need to vent their fury in this vile way. Graeme Souness would doubtless say this was all part of football being a man’s game, although I have to report that at least two of the in-my-face trollers were women. On the other hand, I must confess that I briefly harboured a fantasy in which the driver of the vehicle, being so focused on joining in the abuse, shunted the car in front. An unworthy thought, I know.
And then, this week, it happened for real. As I walked to the shops some lads packed into a small car all had a right yell at me, making various hand signals. I would say it was all in that uncertain grey area between abuse and banter, but I can’t be sure because as I looked up they rear-ended the van in front of them. Before I knew it I was hurrying away, resisting the urge to punch the air. But before long guilt had set in. It was hardly my fault: apart from looking round at them, I hadn’t engaged at all. They had meant no real harm, though, and the poor bloke in front was plainly blameless. I couldn’t imagine anyone was hurt; it was a relatively minor shunt. I was concerned it could have turned ugly if I’d got involved but I should have stayed as a witness. Tremulously, I returned to the scene. All was quiet; there was no evidence anything had happened at all. I suppose interested parties can find me easily enough should they need to.
• Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist