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Am I alone in thinking that the 'not celebrating' trend has gone too far?

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 17, 2012

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Kevin Nolan's chicken dance may not be up there in the pantheon of football's iconic goal celebrations, but I certainly noticed when he failed to perform it last weekend.

It may lag behind Roger Milla's corner flag quickstep, Jurgen Klinsmann's full-length dive or Mick Channon's windmill in the public conscience, but it was conspicuous by its absence when he scored the only goal of West Ham's victory over Newcastle at St James' Park on Sunday.

Nolan, you see, used to play for the Magpies and therefore felt that he could not celebrate scoring against his former employers. Am I alone in thinking that the modern protocol that seemingly requires players to refrain from showing emotion against their former clubs has gone too far?

What can probably be traced back to Denis Law's genuine melancholy when netting for Manchester City at Old Trafford on the day Manchester United were relegated in 1974 has become more and more prevalent during the last ten years.

We have reached the point where almost anyone with even the vaguest connection to a club will make a show of not enjoying putting the ball in the net against their old side.

As a Sunderland fan, I remember Kevin Phillips refusing to celebrate scoring for Aston Villa on his return to the Stadium of Light. Here we had a genuine club legend not wanting to wind up the fans who once adored him, which seems fair enough.

Last month, after scoring for Tottenham at Southampton, Saints youth product Gareth Bale did likewise. Although he made fewer than 50 appearances while at St Mary's, he obviously has a deep affinity for his first club.

Nolan, meanwhile, played just over 90 times for Newcastle, although he should be more concerned about not celebrating against Bolton, for whom he turned out on more than 300 occasions.

Given the rate at which some players switch clubs, it can only be a matter of time before someone reaches the point where they will not be able to celebrate scoring against anyone due them having played for every other team in the league.

However, I think it is fair to say that some players have over-estimated their importance in this sphere. I absolutely drew the line last season when Scott Sinclair produced an embarrassingly apologetic reaction to putting Swansea ahead against Chelsea. Who did he think he was? Gianfranco Zola? In his time at Stamford Bridge, Sinclair made a grand total of 13 appearances, seven of which were as a substitute and he started just one Premier League game for the Blues.

He might have spent five years on Chelsea's books, but they were not the club he came through at – that was Bristol Rovers – and he made far more appearances on loan at Plymouth, QPR, Charlton, Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Wigan. Would he show the same restraint if netting against any of those clubs?

His muted reaction to scoring Swansea's fifth goal at QPR on the opening day of this season suggests maybe, but that could equally have been down to the fact it barely affected the result or, more likely, because of his immanent move to Manchester City where, funnily enough, with just one late substitute appearance since September, merely getting onto the pitch would appear to be cause for celebration.

In fairness, though, it isn't necessarily not celebrating that I find irritating – it's the hands-up, 'Look at me, I'm really important, I didn't really want to do that' gesture that really grates.

Get over yourselves footballers – unless you have clocked-up several-hundred games for your previous club, are a youth product done very well or are considered to be among that club's team of the past decade, then I don't think the vast majority of supporters will really mind if you convey a little happiness in your achievement.

I'm not suggesting for one minute that everyone should mimic Emmanuel Adebayor's 100-yard dash to goad the travelling Arsenal fans at Eastlands a few seasons back, but surely we have not reached the point where supporters are that precious that they cannot bare to see a goalscorer smile and stick his arm in the air as, say, Alan Shearer used to. I don't recall him having any problem celebrating Newcastle goals when playing against Blackburn.

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