The Andy Gray Column: Chelsea/QPR handshake fuss nonsense compared to Hillsborough report

Summary: ambassador Andy Gray was talking exclusively to South West Londoner…


A huge fuss was kicked up about whether or not the Premier League would scrap the pre-match handshakes for Chelsea’s trip to QPR – but it is all a load of nonsense, especially this week of all weeks with regards to Hillsborough.

It is a real shame that this topic has dominated the news over the last few days with the far more important story of the Hillsborough Independent Panel releasing their report.

For us to be pouring over whether the players are going to shake hands or not at a time like this is ridiculous – who cares?

I would never have a handshake before the game anyway because to me it’s just lip service.

They say it’s for the respect campaign but that is a load of rubbish – that respect campaign was never going to work, ever.

People signed up to it but managers are always going to fall out with and criticise referees and other managers because their job depends on it.

The same goes for the players themselves because their job also depends on how well they do, and of course they’re going to feel aggrieved by certain decisions.

I would much rather see it like it was in the old days when captains came out to shake hands in the centre circle and then everybody got on with the game.

After the match, like everyone did, whether you’ve won, lost or drawn, you appreciate the battle you’ve had with a fellow professional and go up to them and shake hands – say ‘well done’, ‘well played’, ‘unlucky’ or whatever.

That to me shows much more respect than forcing players to shake hands. You see it every week – players barely touch hands or look at each other. It’s become habitual.

I don’t see the England rugby team shake the All Blacks’ hands before they play when they are glaring back at New Zealand doing the haka.

They get on with it, battle each other all over the pitch for 80 minutes and then after the game they’re hugging each other, respecting each other.

That to me is far more important than the respect we show at the start of a football game.

If Anton Ferdinand and Ashley Cole or John Terry have a problem with one another and they don’t want to shake hands after the game then so be it, but they shouldn’t be put in this kind of position before the match with all of the world watching.

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