John Terry, England’s former football captain, polarises opinion. He is a man who is revered for his winning mentality, yet reviled for many of his past misdemeanours. People can be really mean about John Terry, can’t they? I’ve heard some awful things said about him and I’m sure that you have, too. Sometimes you inadvertently eavesdrop Terry chatter on buses and in cafes and bars and you wonder if they’re talking about Ian Huntley or Tony Blair or something. His latest foray to the front of the redtops is a lot more serious than the usual sex with your best friend’s girlfriend nonsense, though. Accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand of Queens Park Rangers, he is on trial as we speak at Westminster Magistrates Court, and if convicted, he could get the electric chair. For anyone who’s been living under a rock, Terry is accused of calling Ferdinand a – and I'mma clear my throat – “fucking black cunt” during the game between Chelsea and QPR on October 23rd last year. What’s more, he’s been caught on camera saying it. However, Terry says he was shouting “Anton, I didn’t call you a fucking black cunt,” but that the vital first part of that statement on the video is obscured by someone’s shoulder. How unfortunate can you get? In light of all the terrible things that get said about John Terry every day, we decided to head to Westminster Magistrates Court to speak to his assembled fans and detractors.
VICE: What are you doing here?
Javid: I’m here for John Terry. The Queen’s Park Rangers situation, this is not my business, I come only because I love John Terry. He is my favourite. I come to court because I am behind John Terry forever, and even if he’s convicted, I would go to jail on behalf of John Terry. Are you the only guy who’s been camped out here every day?
I come here Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and I will come here Thursday and Friday as well. Five days. There are more than 54,000 Chelsea fans at Stamford Bridge and none of them are here. It's absolutely shameful. No other Chelsea fans, only you. I’m a journalist, to be honest. Are you a friend of JT’s?
Yeah! Well, not a friend; I support him. I have a letter I’ve written to him. And also I am big supporter for Chelsea club. John Terry has never seen me in his life, only yesterday, three times, and I want to talk to him. I will give him this letter… Nice letter. Would you go for a pint with him, Javid?
Yeah. Would you let him babysit your kids?
Yeah! And would you let him take your wife to the pictures?
Which wife? Who wife? Your girlfriend, maybe?
Yeah. It is no problem. I have confidence for him, 100 percent. On a scale from zero to ten – zero meaning he’s not racist at all and ten meaning he’s extremely racist – how racist is John Terry?
Nine. Because for me, whether he is racist or not racist, it doesn’t matter. I still support him. Because he’s my favourite.
Javid's Verdict: I CAN'T REALLY SAY
John T. Steinfeld had lots to say about John Terry. The 19-year-old is hoping to go to UCL in September. When I asked his name, he said “John T. Steinfeld” without skipping a heartbeat. He’s got his author name sorted out already. Good for him.
What are you doing here?
JTS: I came down here because I wanted to see what was going on and to try to get in the public gallery so I could see how the trial was being conducted. I’m hoping to get a glimpse of John Terry so I can tell him he’s racist scum. What do you think the outcome of the trial will be?
I’m hoping he’ll be found guilty and that Chelsea Football Club actually respond to him being found guilty. Previously they’ve turned a blind eye, but I don’t know how Chelsea could have somebody representing their brand who is a convicted racist. You wouldn’t go for a pint with him, then?
I’d quite like to go for a pint with him to see what he is like in real life. I mean, I’d be sitting there with quite negative views and I don’t know that they would change, but I would accept the opportunity to be proven wrong. Would you let him babysit your little brother or sister?
Absolutely not! The role model figure? Let John Terry look after my sibling?! No. No way. Would you let him take your girlfriend to the cinema?
No, 100 percent not. Jesus, of course not. I can see that you're very serious about your dislike for JT, John T. But let's get real: On a scale from zero to ten, how racist is John Terry?
I’d probably go with a seven or eight, I couldn’t be sure. Chelsea always had a reputation as being a pretty racist, fascist kind of club. Recently that’s changed with all the money, but I still think Terry represents old school Chelsea and that’s why all the diehard Chelsea fans love him. John T's Verdict: GUILTY. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HIS DEFENCE. HE SAID IT SARCASTICALLY?!
Then I met 42-year-old Mark Taylor, currently unemployed, but very inquisitive.
If he’s convicted then do you think he should get time off his sentence for playing well in Euro 2012?
Mark: Absolutely not, do you? Good question. If exonerated, then what?
He’s known as Teflon Man, nothing ever sticks to him does it? He’s as guilty as sin, isn’t he? You’re not friends with John Terry, then?
It’s not the first time he’s overstepped the line, is it? Would you go for a pint with him?
If he paid for it, you would, wouldn't you? Would you let him babysit your kids?
I trust him with kids, but women…? Would you let him take your girlfriend to the pictures, then?
Nah. Nah, nah, nah. On a scale from zero to ten, how racist is John Terry?
I don’t think he’s overly racist, I think he just lets his mouth run away with him sometimes. Six? Mark's Verdict: GUILTY. SIX-GAME BAN. £20,000 FINE. WHICH IS NOTHING FOR HIM, IS IT?
Next, 27-year-old hotel worker Luqman Akrabi.
What do you think the outcome of the trial will be?
Luqman: I don’t think it will be a big deal because I don’t think he really meant it. I play football as well yeah, and sometimes when it’s a pressure game it can come out any time. That kinda muck. If he gets convicted, do you think he should get time off his sentence for playing well at Euro 2012?
Yes, if he’s convicted. How much time would you let him off?
It should be less than a year. Six months, maybe. You really think he should get a shorter sentence because he played well in a few football matches? You’re not a friend of John Terry’s personally?
Ahahahaha. Ahaha. I wish! Ahaha. Would you go for a pint with him?
Yeah, of course! He’s a good man. I’ve seen his interviews, the way he talks. He’s a captain. He’s a gentleman, you know? Luqman's Verdict: NOT GUILTY, HOPEFULLY.
At this point, members of the press were alerted that Ray Wilkins would be leaving court any minute, and they started jostling for position. Javid contravened the barriers as ITN made a live broadcast, pushing past the reporter as he marched proudly with his John Terry banner on his back.
Next up, Juan Carlos, from Spain.
The 21-year-old says: “My name is Juan Carlos, I am from Spain. My team is Real Madrid but my favourite player is Terry. He is the best in the world! I am working in McDonald's now, but my dream is other things.” He says he also wants VICE readers to be aware of how much he loves football.
What are you doing here?
Juan Carlos: I come on my bicycle because John Terry is here. I’m a fanatic, for me he is the best. He is champiooooooooon! Incredible player. What do you think the outcome of the trial will be?
It is very expensive here, but now Spain is bad so I come here. London is very, very, very nice and crazy. You have a lot of opportunity here. It is cool for life. OK. Not got that answer very often today. Would you let him babysit your child?
My child? No. Would you let John Terry take your girlfriend to the cinema?
The girlfriend? Oh, I don’t know. Girlfriends for me are not interesting. Only for me I like football. For me girlfriend, boyfriend, for me they’re the same. For me only football. On a scale from zero to ten, how racist is John Terry?
When you have a lot of money your life is very crazy. If other people want you: “Terry! Terry! Terry! I like! I like! I like!” – your life is very difficult then. You don’t have intimacy here if you are famous. My score for him is eight. In football, he is the captain for Chelsea. Your life for you is your life. For me, he is a player only. Juan Carlos' Verdict: MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE PEOPLE I ONLY LOVE THE FOOTBALL! After the excitement of talking to Juan Carlos, I decided to head to Stamford Bridge to ask the fans there why they weren't out in support of their captain. But they all got it into their heads that I was a journalist writing an article about John Terry for some reason, so they declined the invitation to talk.
So there you have it. Whether guilty or innocent, we all now know a little more about John Terry, the man, from the people he means most to. For the rest of us, perhaps the jury is still out. Go on, ask yourself, would you let John Terry babysit your kids? What if he said please, please, please, please?
Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeres
Previously by Jeremy Allen: