Martin Smith column: Did Match of Day ‘hard men’ really not know about Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce’s personal issues?

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:23 am
Updated Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:25 am
Steve Bruce, manager of Sheffield Wednesday soccer club, talks to Stuart Broad during a training session of England's cricket team at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Let’s imagine that no-one at the BBC had told them and that football men and fellow human beings wouldn’t have been so callous if they had. It’s the only explanation.

Unless of course Danny Murphy and Ruud Gullit were just trying to let the ‘Match Of The Day’ audience know how ‘hard’ and dedicated they are by questioning Steve Bruce’s commitment to Sheffield Wednesday with his spending time in the Caribbean rather than immediately taking his place at Hillsborough.

Gullit shook his head and smirked sagely, while Murphy chimed: “You're sunning yourself watching the cricket for whatever reason. It's not something any manager I've played under would have done.”

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They couldn’t have known of the Bruce family circumstances behind his decision, could they?

Circumstances that meant that on top of his own health issues Steve Bruce’s wife had been a carer for his parents, both of whom died within weeks of each other last year.

Circumstances confirmed by Bruce’s son and former Wednesday player Alex Bruce on social media.

To be fair, which is more than they were, neither Murphy or Gullit have previously appeared to be that kind of character.

Occasionally excitable but basically reasonable, intelligent men the pair of them, or so it seemed.

Old players yes, old school insensitive, not so much.

They both have place and platform to apologise for their ignorance and lack of understanding.

If Bruce’s plan to have a family month in the Caribbean and take his father in law to the cricket is OK with club and the fans - which it is - then it should be OK for those two.

Murphy and Gullit are reasonable human beings, they’ll do the right thing.


Hugh MacIlvanney died last week, one of the greatest writers who ever watched a game.

Such was his talent that he became almost as towering a figure as the people he wrote best about, men like Busby, Shankly, Stein and Muhammad Ali.

He was also a decent bloke unless, apparently, you wanted to move a comma or a colon in his immaculate copy.

The sort of bloke who might chat with a younger, lesser reporter and offer encouragement and congratulation in that voice of glorious Glaswegian gravel.

He saw his role as a sports writer as one: ‘conveying the excitement as vividly and as effectively as possible’.

He did that like no other.