by Noel Draper
As I move my hand to push open the glass door ahead of me a smartly dressed older gentleman beats me to it. He taps the brim of his cap before saying the words I have been longing to hear, “Morning Mr Draper, welcome to the Football Association”. I just about manage not to leap around shouting “yippee” at the top of my voice before nodding at the bespectacled receptionist and slowly making my way towards the lift, trying to take in the magnificent surroundings whilst simultaneously ignoring her rather large cleavage.
As I exit the lift I am greeted by other members of the Regulatory Commission and slowly follow them into a large glass walled room dominated by a huge oak table that could easily seat thirty people. Above me is the biggest chandelier I have ever seen outside of a stately home. I stare at it, in awe if I am honest, before one of my colleagues gestures to a rather nicely padded chair and I sit down nervously glancing around the room. A young lady slowly moves between each seat pouring either tea or coffee to the members and occasionally blushing at a few of the more risqué comments from the seated gentlemen. In front of me, on Football Association embossed ivory coloured paper, is today’s agenda. After a quick glance I notice that the list is a short one as does the elderly gentleman next to me apparently judging by his comments about “being able to get to the bar before lunch is served”.
As one the table rises as the chairman enters the room. He nods towards the group in front of him before sitting down. Immediately another young lady appears at his side and fills his delicate bone china cup. As she scurries out of the room he begins to speak. I try to pay attention but to be honest I am a little underwhelmed by lack of power in his voice.
I look at the scroll like document in front of me. The first item is about a Mr Shaun Derry and his appeal against a red card he received in a recent game. Mr Derry is stating that he was wrongfully dismissed and I agree with him seeing as he was sent off for slightly rubbing his arm against Ashley Young’s offside body. The chairman continues to drone on in his nasally voice and I strain to catch what he is saying before finally tuning in. I’m quite shocked by what I am hearing as phrases like “definitely a red card” and “must have been a foul, look how far that chap in red rolled” drift around the table.
I am about to voice my objections and point out that any actual football fan could see that Ashley Young took a dive and that he was originally offside but I am interrupted by the chairman who suddenly asks for a vote. On cue the old gentlemen seated at the table raise their hands and the motion is carried. Mr Shaun Derry will serve a one match suspension for his blatant hack and denying a goal scoring opportunity. I am literally speechless especially as the general consensus around the antique table is that Mr Derry should think himself lucky that it wasn’t extended for daring to appeal. The cheek of the man.
Next on the agenda is the incident involving Mario Balotelli of Manchester City and Alex Song of Arsenal. I smile to myself. This incident has been replayed over and over on television and looks like a cast iron case for an extended ban for Mario. He did, after all, try and tackle Alex with a raised stud and made contact half way up his leg. In my mind that could have caused some serious damage and deserves another ban. Most people I have spoken to agree with me. Even Manchester City fans.
Once again the chairman is talking in his one tone voice and I am finding it hard to pay attention but he appears to be saying that an official did see the start of this tackle but not the end of it. The collection of old men around the table all nod and start mumbling before the chairman raises his hand and the room falls into a hushed silence. He looks at me and raises one eyebrow. Sensing that this appears to be my big chance I point out that the tackle was a disgrace and needs to be dealt with and that we, as the guardians of this fine game called football, should be setting examples for the sake of its future.
Raised voices erupt all around the table as the chairman looks at me with what seems to be pity before mentioning that the rules state that if an official witnessed the incident, or even part of it, and took no action at the time then they couldn’t do anything retrospectively. Case dismissed.
I, once again, am speechless as this is plainly madness and begin to say something before the chairman stands up and thanks everyone for coming before looking at his watch and commenting on finishing in time for lunch at the club. The other members all either nod or mutter an agreement before starting to pack up their things. I am patted on the back and treated to a few congratulations before being ushered into a lift with the others.
Once we have negotiated the foyer and its buxom occupant and smiled at the strangely dressed man politely holding a squeaky clean glass door open for us we are presented with a row of huge limousines all with their own driver standing patiently whilst staring into the distance. I climb into the car allocated for me. A scotch is pressed into my hand by a short skirted assistant before the engine throbs into life and my carriage begins to move off. As I sink into the deep seats the young lady next to me begins to disrobe.
Should I say anything? Should I voice my opinion? Should I stop the rather attractive young lady from what she is so skillfully doing? Should I point out that the decisions we made in the two cases we have looked at this morning were completely wrong? I vow to say something at the next meeting before closing my eyes and relaxing. I like this job. I like it a lot.