BOO BOYS Perry Groves reveals how he used Paul Merson to stop being booed by own fans at Arsenal following comments made by Gareth Bale
Perry Groves has revealed what it feels like to be booed by your own fans following recent comments made by Gareth Bale.
Bale has won many trophies at Real Madrid, including four Champions Leagues and a LaLiga title – but the Bernabeu faithful have never really taken to him since he joined the club in 2013.
The Welshman admitted that being whistled by the fans of the club he plays for makes him play worse.
It’s not often this happens to a player but Groves recalled his experiences at Arsenal and would get stick from Gooners even when he wasn’t playing.
Groves told talkSPORT: “It does definitely affect any player to be booed by your own fans. I don’t believe any player that says they don’t get affected.
“I used to get booed in the warm-up and I thought ‘give me a chance I ain’t even started yet’. These were Arsenal fans at Highbury. I’d think ‘let me get on the pitch before you start getting at me’.
“What’s refreshing about what Gareth said is that he actually told the truth about how it affects him.
“A lot of players say it doesn’t affect them and they can put it to the back of their mind but he says he’d lose confidence and he’s a hundred per cent right because you tense up.”
However, Groves had a trick up his sleeve when it came to silencing the Highbury boo boys and it involved Gunners legends David Rocastle and Paul Merson.
Groves added: “We used to run out to warm up and back in those days you may have about 20,000 in Highbury before kick-off.
“‘Rocky’, Dave Rocastle ran on and you’d get ‘Oh Rocky Rocky!’, then ‘Merse’ [Paul Merson] would run out and then you’d get ‘Oh Merse!’
“I’d run out and it would be ‘boooo’, so in my head I didn’t want that negative effect. So when ‘Rocky’ and ‘Merse’ ran out but I’d run out virtually in his shorts so they didn’t have enough time to boo me!
“‘Merse’ was like ‘what you doing?’ and I said I didn’t want it [to be booed] and he laughed and said I was taking the pressure off him by booing me.
“It does definitely affect any player to be booed by your own fans. I don’t believe any player that says they don’t get affected.”
Glen Johnson received plenty of stick from Chelsea fans, particularly when playing for Liverpool but was never booed by the fans of the team he played for.
And the former right-back backed Bale, claiming some of the criticism he’s received from Real Madrid is unwarranted.
Johnson said: “It’s easier to take [being booed] from away fans because it’s what you expect. If away fans didn’t like me on that particular day I didn’t care because my interests were with Liverpool. It’s easier to brush off.
“But if it’s your home fans, like Gareth’s going through, then it’s a totally different ball game.
“We’ve heard it over the years when Barcelona and Real Madrid fans are whistling the whole time, it’s piercing. Because they’re big clubs they don’t give players a lot of time – you’ve either got to hit the ground running or they’re on your back.
“I think it’s an odd one for Gareth. He’s a top, top player, he’s won everything there is to win with them. Some of the negative stuff he gets from them is a bit unwarranted.
“If he’s getting those whistles it’s only going to send him down into being in positions he’s not used to being in and he can’t perform and it’s uncomfortable and it’s not going to help him get out of the situation that he’s in.”
Listen to Perry Groves talking about being booed by his own fans at Arsenal above!