I wasn’t around last night when Alex Bruce managed to cause the Twitter scandal of the year by tweeting that Stan Collymore was “mentally weak” and since the tweets were later deleted from his account, I only have the highlights provided by our followers to go off. If I have somehow missed the real reason why so many Leeds United fans were throwing a collective paddy at one of our own players, I apologise in advance.

As I heard it, the 140 character game of handbags started when Alex Bruce – quite accurately – observed that Stan Collymore is a rubbish football pundit. Stan caught wind of this and spat his dummy out. At some stage, Collymore took a swipe at Alex Bruce’s Dad (can’t really fault him for that…) and Bruce managed to upset the entire population of Twitter by calling Stan “mentally weak”.

Now to me, the term ‘mentally weak’ is one of the oldest sporting clichés I can think of. There hasn’t been a World Cup or European Championship’s in the last decade where our national side hasn’t been branded with that phrase. Every British hopeful in every Wimbledon Championship’s gets the same thing, and you could go on and on to find a fitting example in every sport.

So why then did the sportsman Alex Bruce manage to upset the sportsman Stan Collymore with a sporting term they must have both encountered a million times?

Well the truth is, he didn’t. It was the Leeds United fans that turned on him first, and since Stan was already throwing a paddy because Alex dared to criticise his punditry, he latched on to what our own fans were saying and used it to make Alex look like a supervillain.

This happened because the fans somehow decided the term ‘mentally weak’ was a shot at Stan Collymore’s well-documented struggles with clinical depression. With Gary Speed and Andy O’Brien still fresh in memory (something Collymore didn’t mind pointing out), they weren’t going to let Alex Bruce take a shot at the mentally ill. Except he didn’t. The fans did.

By jumping to that conclusion – based on absolutely no supporting evidence I should add – the Leeds United fans have basically said they think the term “mentally weak” describes those suffering from clinical depression. The sheer ignorance of that collective conclusion is incredibly disturbing and highlights how misinformed people are about mental illness at large.

And I’m sorry to call any fan ignorant but I have someone close to me that suffers from that illness, I grew up witnessing the effects of clinical depression first hand and the only thing that offended me was the reaction of the fans and Stan Collymore using Gary Speed and Andy O’Brien to win a petty little argument.

Let me assure you, clinical depression is much more than mental weakness. Being mentally weak is when you’re burdened by expectations and unable to handle the pressure of such a high-profile existence, it has absolutely no connection to clinical depression. The two aren’t even close. It’s like a flea and an elephant or Tomas Brolin and Lionel Messi.

In all honesty, I don’t even think the fans were upset by the false interpretation of what Alex said. There’s a tendency in this country to feign outrage at the most ridiculous things, when the reality is, we’re the most apathetic nation on earth. Deep down, none of us really care all that much about anything beyond our immediate circle of friends and family.

Yet we’re always in search of that next scandal. Things have gotten so bad that the media have resorted to manufacturing their own to feed this insatiable thirst the public now have. It’s all nonsense. No one was really offended by what Alex Bruce said, least not those that suffer from clinical depression or know someone that does and understands how ridiculous the suggestion that “mentally weak” is in any way comparable.

People want to spend ten minutes pretending they’re absolutely outraged by things though and that’s why the national rags continue to feed it to us daily. Nothing sells better than a good scandal, because it creates a talking point and allows people to interact with others, share opinions and form closer relationships. Whether it’s a group of builders on a construction site or teachers sat in the staffroom, a good enough scandal will have them all feigning disgust simply because social convention dictates that we’re supposed to and our own happiness requires it.

For us to feel comfortable within our own identity, we require affirmation from others. This constant stream of scandal we’re all fed gives us endless opportunity to receive that, and when all else fails, we can simply create our own. We all know what we’re supposed to be offended by and so long as we stick to the script, we’ll get to feel that warming embrace of social solidarity.

Thank god we have the individual freedom to express ourselves, hey?

If this rant offended anyone, I suggest you moan about it on Twitter for five minutes, find someone else who agrees, enjoy that warm feeling of social affirmation and then proceed to move on to the next scandal within the hour – thus freeing yourself up to be offended by something equally trivial. 

  • JamesLeeds72

    Spot on.
    I’m missed the whole “argument” too. Looking through Collymore’s timeline I couldn’t believe the abuse he was throwing out, especially after all the racial abuse he has been getting lately. I would have thought he would know better.

    Bringing Gary Speed & Andy O’Brien’s name into this little spat was awful. Just a sick little ploy to get tweeters and his side.

    Wonder how long before Leeds players are banned off twitter again now

  • TimPM

    As someone who suffers from both “mental weakness” (nervous breakdowns in trying to earn enough money to single-handedly look after my incapacitated father and his full-time carer wife – my mother – when they get old) and from depression, all I can say to this article is: hear hear.

    Stan Collymore lives for the attention his ill-considered, arrogant and vitriolic rants on twitter give him. He sets himself up as some sort of guru, yet all he does is complain about anybody in different circumstances to him or with different views to him, and mixes it with a hefty dash of generalisation.

    The definition of his behaviour often on Twitter is at best “intolerant” and at worst a class-based “fascism”.

    With most people I wouldn’t think they’d read that, but Stan Collymore is narcissistic so there’s a good chance he will. Hi Stan!

  • TimPM

    Oh, also, Alex Bruce is a great defender and I can’t believe how consistently he’s overlooked.

    Get him back in the team!

  • NicholasSm1th

    Sticks and Stone Colly.

  • NicholasSm1th

    Sticks and stones Colly! Sticks and Stones.

  • OxfordWhite

    Can’t you get a job on the YEP? At least we’d read articles with substance that contained an opinion. Agree or not I am sick of reading the regurgitated opinions of middle of the road copy. Well done TSS

  • EYLEEDS

    Perhaps I should get on twitter because all I ever read on Facebook is about people buying broccoli and pictures of cats.

    Why on earth do footballers feel the need to get into rows on twitter. Joey Barton is a great example why footballers should not be allowed wifi.

    As for Collymore and Bruce, there should be a cyber equivelant of banging their heads together.

  • TSS

    Not at all, I mentioned it above.

    In fact, that’s the bit that really grates. He’s have lived with it himself and considered a “mentally weak” comment, spun by fans, to be a shot at his depression. Then he brings Speed and OB into it, despite the fact Alex clearly didn’t intend it that way at all.

  • WalterCasper

    Spot on TSS.

    The problem these days though is SO many things are blown way out of proportion for no reason. Unfortunately it’s now the world we live in and so many people claim discrimination from something of nothing. Really sad state of affairs.

  • number1inyorkshire

    i can upset collymore in a few words

    “you are a crap pundit and you were never that good at football ” easy

  • number1inyorkshire

    collymore is like Barton etc etc and a whole load of other “celebrity” tweeters they are just opinionated for their own ends .

    collymore thinks it his job to be controversial in the spirit of journalism ,he thinks he is the media mogul you only have to listen to him on rubbish radio especially at the beggining of his phone in show trying to be bullish about stuff he knows nothing about .

    my opinion is and its why they do it ,do not listen to their rubbish .

    collymore is easy offended and rightly so about stuff but he is causing offence to others what a knob ..

  • number1inyorkshire

    mentally week the expression has nothing to do with collymore and his depression he was saying GROW UP YOU IDIOT .not by the way dont you suffer from depression .

  • number1inyorkshire

    something is only offensive if some one takes offense or pretends to

  • TimPM

    @number1inyorkshire cas707 They were both stupid, but in Collymore’s case he has previous form.

    Just another in a long line of clueless muppets who’d be sad, lonely internet trolls if they weren’t “pundits”.

    Therefore I’ll give Alex Bruce the benefit of the doubt on that one.

  • TSS

    He was told to delete offending tweets I think. He phoned Dewsy when all fans turned on him.

    I’ve read the whole thing mate (RT’s still there) and it’s total nonsense. Alex didn’t even @ stan to start with, he picked up on a comment and started the whole thing. Then the Leeds fans (not Stan) twisted a response about him being “mentally weak” (because he started at on Alex – that was his point) and Stan picked up on that, using his vastly superior follow count to abuse a lad who had barely said anything prior to that. After the initial comment that Stan is a shit pundit (which he is) it was all Stan throwing a paddy until Stan mentioned his Dad and the handbags flew.

    Read the whole thing. It’s nonsense.

    I’m more offended by the ignorance of fans who consider “mentally weak” to be the same thing as clinical depression – the two aren’t even close!

    Oh and it was Stan, and Stan only that brought up AOB and Speed.

  • TSS

    He didn’t offend anyone Colin. Stan wasn’t the one that twisted it, our fans did (because they now hate Bruce for some reason?), then Stan picked up on it.

    All Bruce said was that Stan was “weak minded” for not being able to take criticism of his commentary skills – that was it. Aside from some handbags, during which Stan was by far the worst – using Speed and AOB to turn fans on Alex, bringing his Dad into it. It was pathetic. This is the same Stan that always cries scandal and makes out he’s picked on and he was the one turning a mob against Bruce. Read the full thing and then get back to me.

  • TSS

    Put it this way – had Snoddy said it, no one would have given it a second thought. Alex is the latest Leeds United villain, we both know there’s a different one each week for the fans to mercilessly abuse (I think they draw straws?)

  • DoggingDirect

    Oh dear Stanley. You do have to wonder just how many people he has upset over the years.

  • number1inyorkshire

    because they think they are clever using words you know what they say about too many words ..

    they are trying to make themselves out to be more wise than they are ..

    it would have been better had he said S T F U you idiot .

    collymore always has a comment to make he was last having a twitterwar with Barton about terry twitter is not for what these people use it for if they want to be self opinionated get a web page for yourself .

    i will give Bruce the benfit like TIM

  • number1inyorkshire

    collymore is not offended colin ,he is playing the game to get himself some publicity again,, saw him on tele last night looking everything but offended its not as if he has had to got to REHAB

    I dont know why Bruce is beeing vilified by us the leeds fans he has done nowt wrong as a player

  • number1inyorkshire

    snodgrass has used a similar terminology in yorkie post saying leeds players need to be MENTALLY STRONG its a phrase not an insult though i would find it easy to insult collymore

  • WIll23

    Agree TSS, but it’s a nothing story and TSS, I do wish you had ignored it.

    Whatever happened to sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?

    Seems to be a thing of the past as Englishmen become big wet thin-skinned wussies who do not deserve the description “man”.

    Whether either “men” are grade A arses is irrelevant.

    It’s just symptomatic of the shallow world we live when such an exchange of words spreads like wildfire and becomes a topic of conversation just because someone’s a little upset.

    Tweeting really is for dummies and along with facebook both are to be despised for what they are turning people into – brainless numpties who cannot concentrate for 2 minutes. It is difficult to respect anyone who “talks” (sh*te, generally) on twitter or reads facebook every 5 minutes.

    Both should get a &^%$ing life of real meaning and self-development – Bruce should be spending his time learning how to become a decent defender, not tweeting like a pussy about things that really are so unimportant in life that even this post I am writing is making me so mad about the time I am wasting on it.

  • jigzy84

    Stan Collymore is mentally weak, look how he gave up his playing career, look at how he had to go dogging, look at his addictions, look how he beat on a woman It’s all mentally weak, surely even the “morons” can see that!

    Well said Bruce it’s about time that people are allowed to speak there minds pundits like Collymore can spread there opinions and conjecture and no one is allowed to challenge them or remind them of there failings and misgivings!

    Collymore you’re Mentally Weak!

  • jigzy84

    @Colin Maybe we could mention domestic violence to him then, I’m sure he blamed that on mental weakness at the time! Funny how people forget the past and jump on the band wagon.

  • jigzy84

    I love how the “morons” hate Bruce he was never given a chance under Grayson, it’s obviously a reflection on his did and who he played for!

  • TomJDavies

    Mentally weak or not, Collymore will always have been a better footballer than Alex Bruce will ever be, And I don’t like either of them!

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