"Alan Pardew has headbutted David Meyler," read the text message. Those six words were hilarious, astonishing and yet somehow unsurprising. The train journey back from central London would be spent searching for a gif or a Vine or a video of Alan Pardew headbutting David Meyler.
- Alan Pardew Headbutts David Meyler (VIDEO)
- Alan Pardew Headbutt: Newcastle Manager's 6 Touchline Controversies
Pardew has touchline anger issues stemming back to when he came toe-to-toe with Arsène Wenger in November 2006. His touchline behaviour has been questionable since that daft jig at Villa Park to celebrate Marlon Harewood's 2006 FA Cup semi-final winner, let alone his clash with Martin O'Neill, or when he shoved a linesman, or when he called Manuel Pellegrini a "f*****g old c**t".
And no one likes Alan Pardew, do they? Even Newcastle fans don't like Alan Pardew. A headbutt promised to be the zenith of Pardew schadenfrude. He is a man, after all, who said of Newcastle's 4-0 home defeat to Tottenham last month: "I don’t want to stand there in my 150th game and watch a performance like that." Sometimes, it would be more appropriate if his name ended with "tridge", rather than "dew".
And yet the Glasgow kiss was more of a Pardew peck. Maybe it was the grainy footage which spread throughout the internet like wildfire, but Pardew didn't seem to make that much contact with Meyler. Match of the Day didn't enhance the impact, either, in high definition, and however much violence shouldn't be condoned the incident didn't live up to the hype.
That didn't stop the outraged brigade, though. "It's terribly sad to see these pictures. Sad for football, sad for Pardew and sad for Newcastle," lamented a solemn Alan Hansen. "Disgusting," spat Robbie Savage, who added the Newcastle manager's position must be "untenable", never mind the 4-1 win he had just overseen at Hull.
Hansen also thought it was "Sad for kids to see these pictures." What is sadder is Goal of the Month's demise on Match of the Day. Once upon a time, it was the highlight, now it is a quick-fire montage of dismal camera angles so we can hear Savage carp on.
As one football writer opined, the only thing kids are upset about is that "nobody needed stitches" following Pardew's butt. Violence in football is a guilty pleasure and a rousing spectacle. When the majority of Tottenham's outfield 11 tried to confront Roman Zozulya for headbutting Jan Vertonghen last week, the crowd roared with appreciation and encouragement.
Pardew was fined £100,000 by Newcastle and will receive an additional fine and touchline - perhaps a stadium - ban from the Football Association. He deserves it. His conduct was risible and warrants punishment, which should extend to an anger management course.
Yet the reaction to his nut is more offensive. Meyler is not nursing a fractured skull or lying in a coma, and was barely hurt by Pardew's "peck". He deserves credit in this s**thouse era of professional footballers for not clutching his face, let alone going to ground.
It was incomparable to when Craig Levein decked Graeme Hogg or when Duncan Ferguson nutted John McStay, an offence which resulted in a three-month prison sentence. At least it didn't descend into the Duisberg-Cologne flare-up from 2005
It has not diluted football's Helen Lovejoy faction, though. Violence in football has even been discussed on This Morning.
Pardew has even sparked greater outrage than when Nicolas Anelka made an anti-semitic gesture. Granted, British viewers were unfamiliar with what the quenelle was, but in the rolling news and social media age its significance became apparent very quickly, yet Pardew could receive a lengthier ban.
"I did not mean any damage to the guy but I have moved my head forward," Pardew acknowledged. "I tried to push him away with my head." It was a fittingly laughable end to a comically tame moment, but this is an age when a supporter can receive a three-year football banning order for throwing a banana at Gareth Bale [because he supposedly resembles a monkey]. The reaction is almost always worse.