Anyone who’s paid any attention to the sanctimonious ramblings of Derby County manager Frank Lampard Jr, ever since the ever more ridiculous Spygate row emerged, would surely be surprised if not totally shocked at the apparent hypocrisy displayed by this erstwhile member of England’s “Golden Generation”. Lampard, despite prefacing many of his Spygate press answers over the past week with “I really don’t want to talk about that again”, has nevertheless lost few opportunities to express his angelic disapproval of the heinous crime committed by a Leeds United employee, to wit: standing on a public highway and looking through a wire mesh fence instead of averting his eyes. How distasteful it is, then, to discover that Lampard has at least one skeleton in his closet that puts a spot of football espionage distinctly in the shade.
It turns out – and I’ll warn you now if you’re a Fwankie Fan, you’d better look away here – that Lampard, together with three then Chelsea team-mates, found it funny and entertaining to mock and ridicule some grieving American tourists in London just twenty-four hours after the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks in 2001.
A manager at Heathrow’s Post House hotel, where the disgraceful incident occurred, said: “They were utterly disgusting. They just didn’t seem to care about what had happened. We had a lot of Americans here and were simply trying to comfort them in their hour of need. Meanwhile these men were laughing and joking, taking off their clothes and abusing our guests.” Another witness said: “One of them was walking around laughing with everything hanging out, while on TV there were crying firemen searching for bodies. It was sick.”
The nature and timing of such shameful behaviour rather takes your breath away and, even allowing for the fact that boys will be boys etc, the disgusting lack of respect and empathy for people still shocked and stunned by the appalling events in Manhattan is hard to describe – except, perhaps, to remind those lining up to condemn Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United that there have been worse things going on at various times, despite vociferous attempts to paint Spygate as an Eighth Deadly Sin.
Looking back over the past week, with this appalling episode in mind, it’s hard to stomach the holier-than-thou look on Lampard’s face as he’s presumed to lecture somebody of vastly superior character, experience and ability about matters such as morals and ethics. And it’s difficult to imagine a clearer case of gutter hypocrisy. Of course, it was a long time ago. But Lampard was no callow teenager, he was a 23-year old who had been awarded representative honours by his country and so was expected to be some sort of ambassador for the nation. Such behaviour is the mark of an arrogant and uncaring thug, and there will be those who would argue that such leopards do not change their spots.
For my part, whatever the eventual outcome of Spygate, I will take no lectures or homilies from Mr Lampard about ethics, morality or anything else. He showed his true colours over 17 years ago, and we can surely be in no doubt as to the less than genuine nature of his carefully cultivated victim persona over the past few days.
Frank Lampard is a media darling, that’s clear enough. But he’s also, at bottom, a nasty little person demonstrably capable of the very worst of human nature. We should all remember that, the next time his hypocritical boat race appears, begging for sympathy and understanding, on our TV screens.