by Andy Robinson
I am sure I am not the only writer or reader of the “Cutter” who studies his Bible and likes to relate the teachings of the good Book to the modern world of football. This illuminating passage is primarily set as a trap against Jesus -with the scene’s backdrops being the sin of Adultery and a system of Justice which our Lord questioned and Christianity interpreted as a need for forgiveness….. – still there ? Good.
We have had lots of stories in the media recently reference cheating. From the Ashley Young incidents over diving to the obvious time wasting tactics of the Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard in the match last week against United (bless him, said the City fan) but why are we acting so shocked and outraged as if it has only just started?
Wouldn’t you like to know where and when all of this began. All this evil that’s ruining the game I love. Did it all start this season? Did it begin at the start of the Premiership? Or was it in the Eighties? How about the Seventies when in one landmark moment of football’s rich history Brian Clough told Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and all to throw all their medals in the bin “because they had won them by cheating”- a cruel line – that didn’t do justice to the defining team of the era and signed his death warrant with the best job in English Football. Perhaps it started at Anfield: where from 1972 until 1991 any forward from an opposing team had to be permanently maimed and carried off on a stretcher before the referee would even consider awarding a penalty? The mysterious phenomenon that football supporters refer to as “Fergie time” pales into insignificance compared to that – but perhaps these are different arguments rearing up here. The one’s we like to call an “agenda” against our own particular clubs. Anyhow back to the cheating.
I think it started with you. Yes, You! – Back when you first began to kick a ball about. Remember it now do you? Picking teams in the street. If there were seven of you I bet you were always in the side with the four, and who picked the teams? Him who brought the ball and did he pick his best mates or the best players? The greatest arguments though had to be of where to place the imaginary crossbar. “Over”, “under”, ”over”. This crossbar in a ten years old head could be anywhere from 6 foot to 12 foot high and I am absolutely positive that these not so childish arguments alongside the efforts of a Russian linesman in 1966 were the origins of the calls for Goal line technology.
“Flash Goalie’s”!!! Now there was a concept any corrupt FIFA official would have been proud of. For younger readers, the flash goalie appeared in all manner of small games in the park, the street or the playground where whoever is nearest to the goal gets to use his hand. If I had a pound for every time I had a shot tipped down by the hands of a keeper only to follow up and have another keeper pick the ball up I would be in the corporate suites by now. Street Keepers; flash or not, were also the biggest cheats out there. Who remembers turning around against the current play and witnessing a keeper sneakily and in a hideously evil manner nudge the Adidas holdall or school jumper acting as a post a good yard closer to the other one? Who didn’t do it themselves?
The worst examples of cheating witnessed for me are “The Special one’s” not so secret orders to Ramos and Xavi Alonso (ex – Liverpool say no more) to get themselves sent off; therefore facing suspension for a dead rubber and eligibility for the knockout phase of the Champions League and the horrible events in Paris where the Irish were knocked out of the World Cup by the previously wonderful and could do no wrong hand of Thierry Henry.
Now I have used these as my worst examples by studying each incident using my own particular brand of ethics and moral code. The Madrid fiasco was ridiculous in that it was such a perversion of the system with the prospect of little reward in real terms it made a mockery of the sport. The Paris incident was far worse, and possibly led to the loss of millions for the Irish FA and the broken dreams of its fans and players.
A couple of weeks ago “The Cutter’s” Noel Draper made a very good case for the non -introduction of technology in Football. He argued convincingly that the game in the school and the park and at Wembley all had to be to the same set of rules and referee decisions and “Gods of Football” luck at all levels. His thoughtful but minority opinion lost another that night in Paris.
When the issue of the Ashley Young “diving” was discussed on my forum my response was “Yes it’s cheating but if it was Dzeko or Balotelli it would be professionalism”.
The answer to all this is clear. We are Men, we are Tribal and we are fickle. We conveniently forget the misdemeanors of our own. We take with us to our graves the injustices against our team. We reserve the right to be fickle and we reserve the right to prejudice. Notice Liverpool get two unflattering comments in such a short piece.
According to just about everyone my team face one of their biggest matches ever on Monday night against the current Premiership Champions and current Champions League runners up. Will I be outraged if City win by cheating? No. My prejudice will tell me truthfully that “Justice has been done”. Similarly if we lose by cheating will I cry like a baby or will I take it like a man and remember the boy who is to blame?
“Let him who hath no sin, cast the first stone”.