Whisper it quietly, but Easter is significantly better than Christmas.
There’s the weather for a start; long evenings and, in 2023 at least, hours of glorious sunshine and cloudless skies across the UK.
Then there’s the four-day weekend for most of us, except poor football writers obviously, which lends itself to eating and drinking with the carefree nature of a baby hippo.
When you also consider the chocolate and the lack of forced fun that bedevils Christmas, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Easter shits all over the end-of-year festivities.
But the combination of warm temperatures and all-day drinking reduces tempers to hair-trigger levels as British folk unaccustomed to sunshine inevitably overdo the celebrations.
In that hallowed tradition, we have Andy Carroll arguing with a Reading fan following a Championship stalemate that left the Berkshire club teetering on the brink of relegation.
Reading were hit with a six-point deduction in midweek and they followed up with that crushing news with an underwhelming draw against Birmingham.
Carroll opened the scoring in the seventh minute, but his early goal was cancelled out by Lukas Jutkiewicz who headed home in the 29th minute.
Reading now find themselves occupying one of the relegation spots in the Championship table, with some fans making their feelings known after the final whistle.
Fans give shit to players without any expectation of the recipient giving it back to them with both barrels. Not Carroll though; the 34-year-old made his feelings clear to a somewhat startled supporter.
Throughout his career, including spells with Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham, Carroll has been renowned for seeing the red mist descend.
This writer saw the former England striker pick up two bookings within 60 seconds during a match at Burnley in 2017, the second of which saw Carroll charge into an opposition defender with elbows more lethal than a hungry crocodile.
So this Reading supporter had clearly picked the wrong target to direct his ire about his club’s declining fortunes. Carroll was never likely to sit back quietly and absorb the criticism.
Andy Carroll having a slight disagreement with this Reading fan 👀🍿 pic.twitter.com/4HTcZjisGK
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) April 7, 2023
After a career bedevilled by injury and, according to Sam Allardyce, a lack of application, Carroll is seeing out his twilight years in England’s second tier.
The Geordie striker has scored seven goals for Paul Ince’s Reading this season as fans will be hoping he can help them stay in the league.
But they have just six league games to survive the drop. The Royals sit in 22nd place, one point behind freefalling Queens Park Rangers, and with time running out to avoid dropping below the Championship for the first time since 2002.
Those who remember Carroll being wheeled into position like a heavy First World War artillery piece, with the player visibly grinding his teeth after a pre-match meal of Red Bull and Smarties, will be heartened by his latest demonstration of passion.
There’s life in the old dog yet. And, with both parties letting the unexpected sunshine get to their heads, Carroll’s argument with a Reading supporter was the true essence of the British Easter.
By Michael Lee