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We Want Our Football Back

Saturday 14th January 2012
Ex pros from the 'good old days' and football fans nationwide have, for some time now, been fearing that the game has been heading in very much the wrong direction and is not ‘what it used to be'. The Billy Bremners, Ron Harrises' and Vinnie Joneses' of yesteryear hold no place in today's game, and not just in terms of their hard, no nonsense tackling, but the way they (along with 99.9% of players in this country at the time) went about their business in a manly fashion on the pitch. 20 years ago if a player would have gone down holding his face, rolling around on the ground and moaning like an overly excited porn star because an opposing player had gone eyeball to eyeball with him they would have been laughed out of the stadium (if they were lucky enough to make it out before being lynched), not only by the fans but his own teammates and manager as well. It just wasn't the way men should act. Football was about playing tough and acting tough.

Today, however, football is on a completely different playing field. Specific examples do not really need to be cited as they are too numerous in reference to how the game now differs from that cherished in our youthful memories. Players diving, faking injury and doing everything in their power to get an opposing player's name in the referee's little black book is bad enough, but the recent clamping down on the more forceful tackles (the type of tackles that used to proudly define English football) has proven to be one own goal to many for a growing number of football fans. But who is to blame and how can it be resolved?

Well, the answer is the same for both of these questions. The blame, and consequently the responsibility to sort it out, falls firmly at the feet of our hip swinging Swiss friend Sepp Blatter and his cheerful and loyal disciples that reside within the FIFA headquarters building in Zurich. OK, I am not for one minute saying that the players of whom have been trying their darndest to turn "simulation" into an art form do not need to take a long deep look at themselves, but if you let a puppy use your antique lamp that was given to you by your favourite late aunt as an indoor luxury toilet then it will continue to do so until it is stopped. What needs to happen is that the footballing Marshalls, law makers, gods that are FIFA need to turn their attention away from trying to revert the people's game into a non-contact sport and focus more on ensuring that any form of cheating is punished; fast and furious(ly). ANY dive should result in a booking, if a player is fouled but still resorts to over exaggerating the contact then the free kick he wins should be accompanied with a yellow card. This may cause a ridiculous influx of cautions for a month or so but even the cow in the field eventually learns that licking the electric fence results in a roasted tongue and, in turn, stops licking it! Problemo uno solved.

Now the issue of castrating and de-masculinating football. What needs to happen is the black and white rules like the tackle from behind or the two footed challenge (both relevant to current events) are punishable by a red card are scrapped and referees are given a bit of credit and treated like human beings that are able to analyse a situation themselves and given the responsibility to assess each tackle on its own, individual merit. By this I mean even if a challenge is from behind or 2 footed but the referee does not consider it dangerous then the whistle should not even be blown (let alone a red card dispatched, i.e. Vincent Kompany). When it comes to tackles the rules should simply state that if there was intent to harm then give a red card, anything else is down to the individual referee's opinion. Make them work for their money. A clean tackle, with no intent to harm, where the ball is won first, no matter if it is 2 footed, from behind or showing studs, is what made the game what it was and what made the game what most of us want back, alas it should be allowed to happen. Whether or not it will is a completely different question that most of us, unfortunately, know full well the answer to!




Chris Leaver

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