SPORTSDESK COMMENT WITH MARTIN DOWEY: Sometimes there is no need for a scapegoat

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When I cast my eye back over the last week of football it just underlined something for me.

It is frightening how much an English football fan needs a scapegoat.

England's Tom Cleverley during a training session at Enfield Training Centre, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 3, 2014. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 or see www.paphotos.com/info/ for full restrictions and further information.

England's Tom Cleverley during a training session at Enfield Training Centre, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday March 3, 2014. See PA story SOCCER England. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to FA restrictions. Editorial use only. Commercial use only with prior written consent of the FA. No editing except cropping. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 or see www.paphotos.com/info/ for full restrictions and further information.

You only have to look as far as Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley, who has been the victim of an on-line petition to keep him away from the England squad.

Cleverley isn’t the best English midfielder in the current game, but does a 24-year-old lad deserve the failings of one club to be pinned on him?

Surely a few other people should be given the blame ahead of somebody who has just stepped into the majestic boots of Paul Scholes.

Maybe people should just realise that England aren’t all that good anymore.

We haven’t got a Scholes, a Paul Gascoigne or a David Platt anymore, so rather than berating our country’s better players, it might be an idea to back them, especially with a World Cup just around the corner.

I witnessed another example of a need for a scapegoat on Tuesday night when Scarborough Athletic battled their way to a decent point against play-off rivals Mickleover Sports at Queensgate.

Having spoken to players in the game, they agreed with me that ref Paul Cook didn’t do all that badly.

I also heard no gripe from Boro manager Rudy Funk in our after-match interview.

And I’m sure that the fans will have thought the same until Mickleover man Chris Palmer bent home a glorious free-kick with just over 10 minutes to go.

Looking back on the game, I can’t really single out a decision that Mr Cook got badly wrong, in fact I think he did alright, which is high praise from me.

Despite this he came in for some ridiculous and personal abuse from the home fans, some of which was just embarrassing.

A number of Boro supporters walked past me in the second half and left the ground because some of this vitriol had just gone too far.

I know I wouldn’t want my kids listening to that language and that was also the view of some of these parents, who had just decided to take their child to a football match.

No doubt the old argument will come back: “I pay my money so I can say what I want.”

But I have seen it and spoken to people about it on a number of occasions since I began covering Scarborough FC and especially Scarborough Athletic.

The refs at this level aren’t used to crowds, especially vociferous ones.

No doubt Mr Cook will remember Tuesday night’s abuse - especially the hammering he received when he left the pitch - next time he is picked for a game at Queensgate.

I’m not questioning his professionalism, but I know that it might alter a few of my decisions.

It could all spark a vicious circle and one that Boro don’t need as they aim to push forward.

Sometimes there is a lot to be said for biting your tongue and just moving on.