The signing of Luke McCormick has caused debate among all Oxford United supporters. We have asked three Oxford United fans to present their opinion, while a supporter from another club has provided a 'neutral' opinion.
The views presented are not the stance of Rage Online - primarily because they are all different – but we felt it was a debate that deserved its own article.
I am not trying to argue that the signing of Luke McCormick good news. There is no question that this will bring some very bad PR to the club and could even dent the already small attendances. The atmosphere at games will be soured whilst I am sure that our accolade of ‘Family Club of the Year’ will not be renewed.
One does, however, have to look at this from a footballing perspective. Many people have criticised Wilder for making this signing, with some even calling for his head, but our manager’s job is to win football matches. If he thinks that McCormick will improve the team and his arrival will not have a negative impact on his team, then he would be a fool to pass on the opportunity. We need a goalkeeper. Brown has shown that he is no longer up to it and I personally do not want to rest the weight of our expectant supporters on the young Max Crocombe. His time will come.
On paper, forgetting all other issues, this signing looks a master-stroke. We have signed a player who just five years ago was playing in the Championship for Plymouth and being coveted by a number of other clubs. Whilst the stat about having conceded 52 goals already for Truro this season has been brought up by United fans many times already, this ignores the fact that Truro are a terrible team suffering from perils of administration. All reports from Cornwall suggest McCormick has been the star performer by some distance. If things work well here, the club will have found the perfect man to compete with, and maybe succeed, Ryan Clarke.
The problem is that football is not the only issue to consider. Even the most liberal fan will not be able to properly applaud the new keeper if he pulls off a series of world class saves at Roots Hall tomorrow. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on whether a man convicted of drink driving (and its tragic consequences) should be allowed out of prison and return to football this quickly. All I will say that is that it is by pure chance that it was two kids who fell victim to McCormick’s unforgivable actions in the same way that it was by chance that a pensioner suffered at the hands of Chapman. This makes neither incident easier or harder to overcome, it is just a point that I feel has to be made.
I cannot fathom how it would feel to have your children taken away from you due to the disgraceful actions of another and hope I never have to. I will not feel the need to boo the guy but I predict that many of our own will and nobody can blame them. Hopefully time will act as a healer and his performances on the pitch aid this process. I am sure that this is Ian Lenegan’s hope as well.
My main worry is that should McCormick struggle in between the sticks what many believe to be poor judgement from Lenegan will not just be confirmed but amplified. At the moment it seems to me like we have strengthened our squad for very little money and I only hope that over time the United fans can develop a working relationship with Luke McCormick.
The first thing I'd say is that this is a complicated issue and the reaction of a number of Oxford fans I've seen on twitter acknowledges that.
I think it's only right that prisoners who have served their time should be given opportunities to reintegrate into society and not thrown onto the scrap heap - not least because of the cost of banging them up again - which is the likely alternative without stable employment or prospects.
But it is more troubling when the guy who has killed children of 8 and 10 years old while driving twice over the limit has a job in the public eye. I suspect it might have been hard for McCormick to get a job as a plumber or an accountant, to be honest, but while I don't agree with some who expect footballers to be paragons of virtue, I do think they represent a larger group of people than most people do when doing their job.
Lots of people have correctly identified what an enormous PR gaffe this is by Lenagan - and they're right - but I'm more concerned with the moral dimensions. I think it's dumb, but I also think its wrong. I think it's appalling that no one else (not even Swindon) would touch him and yet we would. But if I thought that we were having him because we do believe in giving people second chances or that we felt that McCormick was desperate to start over and is a changed man, I may be more sympathetic. But we've been told very clearly by the Chairman that he's here because he's cheap.
I was talking to a friend a while back about the case of Lee Hughes who had just gone to Port Vale and whether he deserved another chance after being found guilty of death by dangerous driving in 2003. My friend felt that it was typical of football clubs to just brush things under the carpet as long as the player could still do a job. I think they're probably right and it's very sad that it's our club looking the other way now. According to Wikipedia, Hughes said some quite moving things outside court about how guilty he felt about killing the passenger of the car he hit and severely injuring two others (before leaving the scene). I then saw that he has been found guilty of common assault (reduced from sexual assault) since then. I don't know Luke McCormick and what kind of a man he is, but I suspect in any line of work he'd be deemed a risky hire.
As a fan of Oxford United I sometimes look at the Premiership with a mix of envy and contempt; we'd love to be up there, but we're glad that all of the worst excesses tend not to happen to the same extent lower down the pyramid. The sad truth is that the connection between professional football and the fans is getting weaker throughout the game. I think the Board of our club has weakened it still further yesterday.
Fantastic Mr Ox, Oxfordshire
Firstly - I'm a woolly liberal and can see my opinions will not converge with quite a few on here, twitter and Facebook who judging would have quite clearly been happy to see McCormick strung up by the nearest lamppost for what he did.
Speaking in general terms, I believe in rehabilitation and as long as the justice system believe someone is contrite and remorseful enough to take their place in society, I don't see why I shouldn't support their decision. Everybody deserves their chance to a second chance, as long as they realise the gravity of their offence - and I'm sure McCormick falls in that category.
But despite all that, and the fact that I will not be booing or judging McCormick for his past mistakes when he runs out to play for us - I cannot believe OUFC have made this signing. It is a terrible PR move, especially at a time when we are actively courting new sponsors, and you can bet your bottom dollar that one of the national red-tops will run a "Jailbirds FC" piece given we now have 2 ex-cons convicted of driving manslaughters on our books.
How, even if McCormick had the ability of Peter Schmeichel, can this be deemed a good move for OUFC? Especially as despite his previous exploits, he's not actually played professional standard football since 2008 so he's reasonably unproven - especially given whatever psychological baggage he's now also carrying since his conviction. So even in footballing terms I'd call the decision questionable.
I just cannot see what good this is going to do us. It will create tension in the stands, ridicule in the national press, and put off potential investors and maybe even future signings.
I believe he deserves a second chance. But maybe that second chance should be away from the public eye of being a professional football player?
I can only see negatives at this stage from this decision to bring him on board. The fans forum will be interesting next Thursday. If it isn't postponed.
I am not an Oxford fan. I’m not being an apologist and trying to justify his being at the club just to take advantage of the fact that he is a decent player. In fact, being a Swindon Town fan, I personally hope that he concedes 3 goals every game!
El Haj Diouf
Guly Do Prado
John Obi Mikel
All of the above footballers have been caught drink-driving. Luke McCormick has been the only one unlucky enough to kill someone. All the rest were stopped by police before the worst could happen. How many of them would you welcome into your club with open arms purely because of their ability?
There isn’t a fan alive today that could honestly say that they wouldn’t have jumped for joy if their team included George Best in his pomp, or Peter Shilton in goal, or Tony Adams marshalling their defence. Why should Luke be any different?
What he did was terrible and he should never be forgiven for it. In fact I’m sure Luke is haunted by what he did, and the lives that were lost at his stupid decision making.
If it was my son, I would personally want to rip him limb from limb.
I can understand and sympathise with the family who are now forever mourning their sons, and with the father who was horrendously injured and now faces life in a wheelchair. But their feelings cannot be accounted for in decisions that now surround Luke’s future. Our justice system does not include the right for victims of these crimes to be able to decide what a person can/cannot do after punishment has been served. That is not how the law works. That decision is made by a judge and by a jury of their peers.
The question being asked is not ‘Has he served enough time?’ I think you would struggle to find anyone who will agree that he did. The question is ‘What should he be able to do now he has served his time as was laid out by the criminal justice system of our country?'
Some of the people on the above list have committed drink/driving offences since Luke went to jail. Ryan Tunnicliffe, Jermaine Pennant and Guly Do Prado have all been arrested this season alone. Should they be banned from playing in the future?
Luke has worked very hard in his life to take the natural gift that he was born with and develop it enough to become a professional footballer. Whilst some may think he is in a privileged position to earn a lot of money play for Oxford United, he should be allowed to put all the effort and hard work to use. I can understand that some careers mean that if you gain a criminal record you will be unable to carry on, but that isn’t the case in football and although what he did was awful, that doesn’t mean he should be punished anymore by the general populous for that.
Otherwise where would it end? Would Joey Barton and Andy Carroll be refused to play ever again? That doesn’t make sense and I am sure that the majority of fans would agree. Whilst Luke was training at Swindon pre- season, I saw many fans claiming that while he should be allowed to have a job, he should not be allowed to earn the amounts that come with being a footballer and suggested jobs such as a shelf-stacker in Asda or a janitor in the local school. I for one would be extremely annoyed, if I lost out on a job to a man who is more than qualified for another role!
There are other footballers still playing such as Lee Hughes, that have served a sentence and has returned to football on his release. Adam Chapman already plays for Oxford United. In May 2009, he killed a 77 year old man by dangerous driving and was sentenced to 30 months in a Young Offenders Institute. He was supported by the club and fans throughout the trial and time he served. To those that rage about boycotting the club whilst McCormick is there, I ask, why were you not doing this already with Chapman?
It takes an awful lot of bravery to know that every single time that you step out onto that pitch up and down the country, you will receive some of the most vitriolic abuse going. Lee Hughes can run away from it while moving round the pitch constantly. I have a lot of respect for Luke. He will be stood in front of opposition fans and they will be pelting him and yelling at him constantly. If he feels that he can deal with all that pressure alongside being in the most important spot on the pitch as goalkeeper it is incredible.
With him just being around the club, he will come in contact with young lads who have just signed their first contract for a decent first wage. These players may think twice about jumping into the car and leave it at home thanks to the walking advertisement that they have in McCormick. I would like to think that Oxford United would put him to work with the youngsters and talking to them about why not to do what he did on that fateful day in June 2008. If he can stop even one young man from getting behind the wheel while drunk, I feel he has done his job.
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