The Redemption of Ryan Shawcross

Apparently, it’s all up to Aaron. It’s been three years since Shawcross broke his ankle in two places with a horrific tackle. Ever since then, Stoke has loomed as a particularly evil, if inept, enemy of ours, what with their adherence to a knuckle-dragging style of football that might do better in American football than in the Prem. With the departure of Pulis,we seem to be seeing a softer side to Stoke, but hard feelings certainly define this rivalry.

I don’t blame Shawcross for the actual tackle. Much. I do blame him, however, for how he’s apparently handled it ever since. One can tell that, after he realized what he had done, he felt something close to remorse. However, for as much as I can tell, he has never apologized to Aaron Ramsey, not properly, at least. The closest I can come to finding an apology is a report from August 2012 that has Ramsey saying, “I’m over what happened in the past, I’ve moved on. I had a text off him straight after I done my leg but that was it.” One does not break another’s leg and then simply send a text or two.

With Stoke fans booing Ramsey whenever we travel to Brittania, the context is clear: there is very little class to be found among them. I know that not all Stoke fans are such cretins. There’s at least one whom I’ve met face-to-face who, upon learning that I was a Gooner, apologized for the tackle and even said he wished Shawcross would’ve been sold on. So that’s one. However, the only Potter who matters here is Shawcross, and if he can’t do the right thing and apologize for something that could have ended Ramsey’s career or maimed him for life, he falls far lower off of the moral ladder.

I don’t think Shawcross meant to break his leg or even injure him. He was following orders to play “tough” football and took it too far. Let’s remember that, at the time, he and Ramsey were fellow Welshmen, a strong enough connection that Shawcross was considered for the Welsh national team as recently as July 2012. That this possibility was scotched by Ramsey renders the point moot now, of course. His conversation with Welsh national team manager Chris Coleman suggests that Ramsey hasn’t forgiven Shawcross, and why should he? The burden rests at Shawcross’s feet.

However, I’ve come ’round to thinking that Ramsey should go over to Shawcross tomorrow, extend his hand, and say to him, “I forgive you.” Force the man to do what he apparently can’t or won’t do on his own. I’m not invoking any spiritual, moral, or religious platitudes. I’m not looking for a tearful embrace followed by both squads linking arms and signing kumbaya. I just want this sorry saga laid to rest. If Shawcross can look Ramsey in the eye, shake his hand, and apologize, great. We’ll still go out and thrash them anyway, hopefully highlighted by a Ramsey goal or two and a few figurative broken ankles—I’m borrowing from basketball here, when one fakes a defender so thoroughly that he trips over his own feet.

If Shawcross snubs him, fine. We’ll know what we’ve long suspected and should show no mercy to Stoke for as long as Shawcross features for them. Neanderthals who play that way can evolve, but until they develop some level of respect for the game, they’re not worth the time or energy we might invest in hating them. We’ll know who he is and what he’s made of but should regard him with the same mix of scorn, disgust, and pity we might show to a garden slug. We can then direct our hate and vitriol at people who see fit to drop chemical weapons or show up at shopping malls and open fire.

In either case, let’s hope the lads go into tomorrow’s match with fire in their bellies and put Stoke on their collective arses so fast they won’t know what hit them. Southampton’s win over Liverpool means we could go top of the table with a win. Özil is set to make his Emirates appearance tomorrow, which should be momentous, and we’ll have Arteta and Sanogo both available as well. We’ve weathered a fair number of early-season injuries and look set to strengthen. Stoke has had some strong showings, drawing with Man City last week, winning three, and losing narrowly to Liverpool in week one, but they’ve only scored three goals in four Prem matches. Even under new manager Mark Hughes, we pretty much know what to expect: rugged football, a stingy keeper, and a fair amount of hoofing it forward whenever they do get the ball. Özil’s ability to unlock tight defenses will be put to the test, and he’ll get his first real taste of Prem football, such as it’s played by the likes of Stoke, but in the end, it’s hard to resist the form we’re in. Emotions will be at a fever pitch between the history and Özil’s debut, and I see us tearing into Stoke to score at least twice.

Mr. Shawcross, you’re on notice. 

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17 thoughts on “The Redemption of Ryan Shawcross

  1. Anonymous

    Most of the above is the usual deluded lies. I have read a lot of stuff from Arsenal fans over the past few days and I have come to the conclusion that despite their expensive public school educations most Arsenal fans are actually a little but simple.

  2. Anonymous

    clever of you to use “but” instead of “bit” to prove just inexpensive your education was. I'm American where “public school” equals “free”. are public schools tuition-based where you're from?

  3. Anonymous

    other clubs (including Stoke) have had similar injuries, some from far worse challenges, no one else acts like Arsenal. Its this delusion Arsenal fans have with having 'class', does it just mean most of you are upper-middle class and want to look down on working class northeners? Ive never seen a set of fans lack any class like Arsenal's.

  4. Anonymous

    please take the pissing contest elsewhere. I won't speak for who most of Arsenal's fans are or what their incomes are like. Try to keep the comments focused on football and leave the politics/economics to the side.Thanks!

  5. Anonymous

    yeah yeah every club gets injuries but only a few play a style that makes injuries more likely on purpose. yes, arsenal has a reputation for being finesse-wimps but whatever. class isn't about money, it's about how you act. Arsenal's class comes from trying to play with skill not from throwing money around. that's chel$ki's game, not ours.

  6. Anonymous

    this article has nothing to do with football! It is just another hate filled rant against Stoke and their supporters. If you want comments about football then write an article about football

  7. Anonymous

    Shawcross did apologise, he wasn't allowed to see Ramsey which was understandable but he did send him texts which Ramsey didn't reply to. Of course he didn't have to reply or accept the apology, but too many Arsenal fans are spreading lies like this to try to keep this pathetic witch hunt going after 3 years. You say Stoke have some decent supporters but then you write this article to stir up more hate. Get over it and grow up

  8. Anonymous

    What is most interesting and maybe most gratifying if I was Jon is that most of these comments today do not appear to be coming from Gunner (or Gooner)fans. This might indicate that Jon's blog has crossed over into enemy territory. Now if they were only to vote for the blog, all would be well.Leaving that aside, I agree that every club has had it share of horrific injuries and, quite often, they are a result of hard but not dirty play. The discussion herein seems to be as to how everyone handles it afterwards. I suspect that no one expects Shawcross to have voluntarily taken himself out of the game let alone for as long as Aaron was unable to play, but a sense of sportsmanship might have resulted in an apology, which is not an admission of guilt or intent to do injury. We see movies, TV shows, read novels and hear or see real incidents of the injured party being visited in hospital, if only, to wish a speedy and healthy recovery, regardless of any admission as to culpability. Was Shawcross too embarrassed to do this or did he fear that his fans might feel he was coddling Ramsey or going soft? If he was a “an” he could have demonstrated such by indicating regret that so great an injury had occurred, that he hoped that Ramsey would fully recover and not have his career ended and let it go at that. Not making any such move says much more about his character, as well as lack of some responsible advise on the part of his team, his manager or higher-ups at Stoke, than anything else.As to having Aaron go to him tomorrow, it might be a shrewd move since it puts Stoke, et all on the defensive as the “bad guys” who have proven incapable of taking the first step. The question is, however, will it change their mindsets or alter how they play.

  9. Anonymous

    I can see why Shawcross might have been kept away from Ramsey initially, but he's had plenty of time to apologize. Of course, if it comes out that he did and we just haven't heard about it, I'll gladly eat my own words. Maybe literally. In the meantime, I can only report what I find. I searched for a good while using various combinations of Shawcross, apology, Ramsey, and others and could only find the text-message reference in 2012. Ramsey says he's moved on, which suggests that he's given up on any apology forthcoming. That would be a shame. I regret stirring up more hate, as you put it, but let's not confuse cause and effect. I'm reacting to a horrific injury that, even if accidental, remains unresolved. Until there's an actual apology, and until Stoke fans stop booing Ramsey, it's difficult to get over.

  10. Anonymous

    from another Arsenal blog;'I have made efforts, I’ve left him messages and a text, and nothing has been returned but that’s up to Aaron,” Shawcross said.“Will I see him? I might do in the future but it’s totally up to Aaron. I haven’t spoken to him. It’s up to him whether he gets back to me, there is a lot of emotion going on and he’s probably trying to concentrate on having his rehab done and that’s fair enough'happy now?

  11. Anonymous

    I had read that but left it out because I think it doesn't flatter Shawcross, actually. A few messages or texts from 2010 don't seem like much of an effort, given how long Ramsey was out. To say “that's totally up to Aaron” seems to blame Ramsey. I'm sure they've seen each other on the pitch on more than one occasion, and I'd like to think that Shawcross would go further out of his way to find Ramsey to apologize.

  12. Anonymous

    WOW!!!!!Jon is this a record for number of comments you have received for any one of your daily blogs?It is hard to believe that this one item stirs that much emotion.

  13. Anonymous

    The fact that you equate class with money and not how a person conducts themselves in this world shows that you are devoid of it.A typical idiot with an 'us and them' attitude attempting to polarise opinion and draw support from working class northerners.Fortunately most working class northerners and Stoke fans are a lot more intelligent and far less bigoted than you…

  14. Anonymous

    that's been fun, but I clearly have a bit to learn. Having never lived in London, I guess I underestimate or fail to grasp the London/northern England tensions. I typically root for underdogs and Stoke, no disrespect , is one. I cheered the draw vs. Man City not because of how it might benefit Arsenal but because of the financial gulf. giant-slayers are always heroes of mine, so it's ironic then for me to root for a club as large as Arsenal. Maybe it would have been better to strip away the other stuff and focus solely on Shawcross/Ramsey. A simple apology would square things away nicely.


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