Monday, 25 January 2010


The case of the brothers who tortured two boys has shocked South Yorkshire and beyond. “You evil b******s”, screamed one of the victim’s mothers last week. Sheffield Crown Court heard probably the worst crimes committed by children in this country since James Bulger over two decades ago. But what is perhaps even more concerning than the horrific evidence is how the boys were brought up at home - a complete lack of discipline and instead a diet of drugs, sex and explicit films.

The judge banned their identification because it would harm their rehabilitation, although this was contested by the media. Naming bans nowadays carry little weight anyway, as you can easily find out what somebody is called by searching online forums - and, even so, both boys were well known in the Edlington community. The courtroom scene is pictured [Getty Images].

As much as what they did last April was almost unbelievable, I can understand where the judge was coming from. He wants to see them eventually get out of prison reformed - given the care and positive attention inside that they have lacked so far in their lives. It has cost a fortune to rename and rehouse the Bulger killers, so that has to be used as a template. The most important aspect of this case is not condemning the boys’ actions - as tempting as that might be for the media - but rather look at how the authorities can use what happened to ensure this is never repeated again.

* * *

It was pleasing to see The FA Cup back to its best this weekend. Tottenham being held by Leeds, Stoke putting out Arsenal, Reading beating Burnley and Southampton edging past Ipswich. Even the lowest-ranked team, Notts County, got a replay against Wigan. If Sol Campbell [pictured, Independent] wanted The FA Cup this season then he would have had more chance staying put in Nottinghamshire rather than going back to the Gunners.

Three weeks ago I criticised fans of clubs for not turning out to games, but attendances were pretty good this time in the fourth round. I went to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday to watch Newcastle lose 4-2 (in what must be one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve ever seen), and the Toon brought over 3,000 fans from the north-east with only 10 days of notice, which I thought was a sterling effort. Shame the same could not be said for the man in the middle.

Anyway, overall it was good to have a few upsets over the weekend - and the fifth round draw has thrown up some tasty ties like Southampton v Portsmouth and Derby v Birmingham. I’m pretty sure Leeds will get there too - I wouldn’t fancy a midweek trip to Elland Road ten years ago or today. Old ’Arry must be quaking in his boots...
> By the way, you may like to know that I typed this blog with only one hand. The other one got injured playing football yesterday. Hope it's still a good read ;)