Why Won't People Stop Tormenting Gary Lineker About the Time He Shat Himself?
Are they all covering up for their own loose sphincters?
You know when it's about to happen. Stomach insidiously rumbling, intestines like a game of Kerplunk, mind scattered across your recent meals. Was it the half-price sushi? The slightly congealing cornershop sandwich? Too late for that now, indignity is rearing its head. You're never going to make it to that Costa in time. You're about to shit yourself.
It's bad as a private indignity, but imagine being in the same position while playing football wearing suspiciously short shorts on live TV in front of millions worldwide, and having nowhere to go except the beautifully mown grass of the Stadio Sant'Elia. Well, if you're Gary Lineker, the greasy-thighed golden child of English football, you don't have to imagine, because in a now-infamous clip from England's opening match of the 1990 World Cup against Ireland, you can see him shuffling his arse along the ground while trying his best to disguise the warm flow of gut flora seeping between the material of his underwear and his warm upper leg.
And who can blame him? He is human, with fallible bowels, just like you and me. Who else can say they haven't fallen foul of the intestinal sword of Damocles that hangs over all of our trousers on a daily basis? Not I, not Gary.
And he got away with it. In the carefree, low definition internet-less days of the 90s, barely anyone even noticed. But fast-forward 26 years, and it feels like Gary is now trapped in his own personal Black Mirror-esque hell as a result of his innocuous yet badly timed stream. An avid Twitter user, he is haunted by the spectre of that bowel movement forever more, because every tweet he sends gets bombarded with replies that mainly riff on the word 'shat'.
Back in 2014, some random troll replied to one his tweets with "shat on pitch". This being the internet, the idea spread like flames over a burning pile of rubbish to the position we have today, where literally everything he tweets receives at least 20 variations on "shat". To take a random example from last night:
Sometimes he tries to get in on the act, to nullify the playgrounds sniggers by allowing himself to laugh at his own misfortune. But the trolls are unrepentant. Sometimes he pleads for it to stop, politely, amiably, like you'd expect from the consummate professional that is the Lineker personal brand. He told the BBC, "I have a lot of mothers, a lot of children, a lot of respectful people that follow me. Do I want them to read them at the bottom of a tweet? Not really".
Yet still they cried "shat". Even when Gary was going through hard times, around the time his mother died, the incessant metronome of the word 'shat' appeared on his timeline to any of his most heartfelt tweets. There was no remorse, and to this day there still has not been to any remorse.
He's tried to block and report everyone who wouldn't let him forget, but when you have 4.71 million followers, it must feel akin to mopping up a tidal wave with a sheet of kitchen towel. But why do these blokes – and let's be honest it's never going to be anything but 'blokes' – keep tormenting Gaz? Why don't they let the national treasure tweet in peace?
"Because I get bare numbers innit" said @EzraHazard, a proud member of the shat brigade that I spoke to. Another, @Anderology, describes it as "Just a bit of fun. It started in 2014 and I decided to jump on the bandwagon." @SuperCFC tells me he does it "just of complete boredom, just to pass the time at work. It's just for cheap laughs." @Logan_Clark22 says it offers them, "A quick chuckle, nothing more. I haven't seen his reactions to it I just think it's really funny."
Ok, banter, we get it. But I want to go deeper. Let's stare into these people's souls. What do they get out of it? Is it some kind of coprophilic pleasure-seeking thrill? Do they want a response from the man himself?
Some, like @EzraHazard, wouldn't budge. "I honestly couldn't care. It's just a bit of banter innit," he tells me. But when I pressed further with some users, they began to crumble. Like @IdrisHogsade, who eventually told me, "I just meant it as a joke... I didn't think he read these tweets," and then finally, "I'm sorry."
But what's most revealing is how many of Lineker's tormentors have been through similar experiences themselves. "Yes, when I was 16. I'm 30 now. I was jumped by five guys. Mine wasn't during the World Cup as a player though," said @SuperCFC. In better spirits, @Logan_Clark22 told me that yes, "there have been a few times I have gambled on a fart and lost." Others I spoke admitted they had soiled themselves in the past but, ironically, didn't want to get into the browner details.
I wonder whether Gary has actually become a lightning rod for all of these men to release their inner shame about past pant-soiling experiences. Maybe Gary's Twitter timeline has become a sort of therapeutic sharing experience via the medium of tweeting a topical variation on the word "shat". Perhaps he is the public martyr we all need for bowel mishaps. He has publicly borne the cross of soiling oneself so that we, the people, may always be able to deflect away from our own loose sphincters.
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