No. 14 Presentation Podiums (June '05)
For some seasons now, there's been a growing trend for trophy presentations to take place on a hastily constructed podium in the middle of the pitch. These typically-white monstrosities seem to have the purpose of plastering a sponsors logo all over the back pages of the following day's papers but also serve to block out the view of those supporters unlucky enough to have the podium constructed facing away from them. Not content with only preventing that section of the crowd from watching the presentation, the excitement of the occasion is hightened by some clever gadgets that blow little bits of paper into the air, obscuring the players from the view of the rest of the ground. The new Wembley better have some steps to walk up or there'll be a few disgruntled fans out there, not least us at F-t-L.
No. 13 Foul Throws (March '05)
Is it me or have footballers lost the ability to take a throw in properly? United are guilty of the odd one from time to time but other sides we've seen this season seem incapable of doing this most simple of tasks. One notable culprit is the Robins' Billy Harding who managed to jump whilst taking every throw before sportingly getting sent off in the Boxing Day clash. It's a disease that seems to have inflicted all levels of the game as Premiership players are just as guilty of dropping the ball at the feet of a team mate standing a couple of yards away. What's more, referees are not showing the blindest bit of interest in penalising the consistently poor throw-ins so it looks as if, for the foreseeable future, I'll have to carry on saying 'foul throw' every five minutes during a match.
No. 12 Sepp Blatter (April '04)
This guy is a certifiable wacko! His latest plan is to do away with draws - all games will be resolved with a penalty shoot-out. So, you've just fought back from 4-0 down to grab a draw in an eight goal thriller. Well, that's just not satisfying enough - let's rip away that hard earned point by throwing the match into a penalty lottery. This guy is in charge of FIFA, the game's governing body - so, should we be worried that one of his crazy plans may just sneak through? To answer that let's have a look at some of his past form; a World Cup every two years (Tradition? Pah! The European Championships? Pish-posh, we'll turn them into a qualifying tourno), tight shorts in the women's game to make it more 'sexy' (hmm...) and shoes for pigeons. The answer then is no. Less and less people are taking this man seriously and when (Or should I say if?) he comes up with a good idea, I for one will probably fall off my chair.
No. 11 Offside (Jan '04)
Well, we may have been a bit quiet here lately but there's only so many times you can complain about the Ryman officials and keep it original. But now we have something new to get off our chests - the offside rule. It may not affect us so much in the Ryman where we don't have endless video replays (We just know they're getting it wrong... Doh, there I am slipping back into criticising the ref's assistants!) but the new interpretation of the offside rule is causing a bit of a stir in the football world. Is a player passive or active? Are they interfering with play, or not? Is it a new phase of play? Well here's another question - When did the offside rule become so ridiculous? FIFA have meddled with it so much it's caused nothing short of a mess, with players and managers, and apparently the ref's assistants, no longer having a clue whether a player is on or off. So, here's the solution... put it back how it used to be, when a player was either on or offside. Right back to before 'interfering with play' was added and everyone will know where they stand.
No. 10 Close-season (May '03)
Aaarrgh! Another footy season comes to an end (albeit on a good note) and we begin the two month wait to the next one with only a handful of England games to look forward to. Role on 2003/04...
No. 9 England's International Friendlies (February '03)
This month Got My Goat takes a step away from the Ryman League and constant referee bashing to complain about the English tradition of losing to the Aussies. But at football? Some things just shouldn't happen - granted Harry Kewell is a world class player and there's a spattering of reasonable ability within the Socceroos but England just shouldn't lose to them. The reason, of course, is Mr. Erikson's team swapping tactics - it can not breed confidence within the team if you know that no matter how well, or badly, you play you're only going to get a 45 minute run out. James Beattie, excellent in the Premiership this season was given three quarters of an hour to prove he could do it at international level - what a gigantic waste of time! It would make more sense to field a B team than render a match pointless by pandering to the complaints of the Premiership managers who don't want their star assets injured. It's not entertaining the fans, and friendly audiences will plummet if Sven doesn't sort it out soon. No doubt, there's more to come on this topic...
No. 8 Ryman Premier League Referees (January '03)
A new year but the same old story... Once again the Ryman Premier League officials have gained our attention with what can only be described as elementary mistakes.
A quick quiz: Which of the following should receive a caution:
1. A late challenge on the keeper?
2. A genuine attempt at the ball that produces a comical dive from the attacker?
3. A retaliatory kick in the knee after a fair tackle?
If you’re a Ryman League ref, the answer is the player who made the challenge in no.2. To anyone with common sense you should’ve answered 1 and 3. And anyone adhering to the rules even more strictly would book the player that dived in no.2.
It’s also the sheer inconsistency that the refs display that really gets my goat. A late tackle, where the U’s player ended up in a heap on the floor and the crunching sound of boot on shin echoes around the ground, goes unpunished. Whereas, a genuine attempt at the ball which ends in the attacking player throwing himself 4yds down the pitch got a U’s player cautioned. It poses the question: do the referees actually know the rules? If I had my way (and let me know if this already happens) referees would sit a written and practical test each year before the start of the season. This would make sure that they knew the rules and didn’t decide to govern a match with their own unique set of rules and regulations.
No. 7 Ten Yard Rule (October '02)
Again after having watched the same matches as mentioned in no. 6, it came to my attention that the referees seem to have forgotten that the rule is meant to mean that all opposing players are ten yards from the ball. However on more than one occasion one of the opposing strikers decided to stand not more than three yards behind the free kick. Surely that should end in a booking and the free kick being advanced forward ten yards. Being able to count a full ten yards is also an increasing rarity.
No. 6 Whinging Teams (October '02)
After recently viewing the U's play a certain team several times within the space of a week, I realised that some teams never just put up and shut up. Every decision has to be queried and dragged on for as long as possible. This is obviously very annoying for both the team you're supporting and the supporters who came to watch a flowing game of football.
No. 5 "Supporters" (August '02)
Do you know how to make a player score more goals, make more tackles or save more shots? Positive encouragement. You might think this is obvious but, with the season proper not even underway, some supporters, and they'll know who they are, find it necessary to verbally abuse members of our own team. Quite simply, this isn't going to help matters - sort yourselves out and get behind the players... If a player is having a stinker tell him to keep going rather than condemning him as useless, you may just find that the team react better and produce the kind of performance you were hoping to see.
No. 4 2002/03 Ryman League Fixtures (August '02)
Okay, whose smart idea was it for Aldershot to be our Christmas and Easter bank holiday fixtures? In years gone by, we could look forward to the late Christmas pressie of three points against Carshalton – a simple trip down the road whether home or away. Now, Mr. Ryman Fixture Organiser has left us with an away trip to Aldershot on Boxing Day. Oh, please! Aside from the obvious fact that we’re less likely to win, it takes an aeon to get there on the ‘Third World’ rail system our country has. What’s that all about?
No. 3 Ryman Premier League Referees (April '02)
All players, supporters and managers of Premiership clubs should have to watch one Ryman League game. This would quickly bring an end to complaints about referees at that level of the game. Whilst we recognise that referees and linesmen have a difficult job, not made easier by the players or the constant heckling from the crowd, and that you do get the occasional good referee, it is still frustrating to watch a game slip away from your team because of some insane decisions. In recent years, a trend has also developed for referees to interpret the rules of the game in their own, ‘unique’ style so that what warrants a red-card in one game isn’t guaranteed to be a foul in the next. Away from the glare of the cameras and the glamour of the Premiership, you might think that it is harder to get annoyed with referees and their ‘assistants’. In reality, all it means is that there is no proof as to how poor some of them truly are.
No. 2 The Obstruction Rule (March '02)
Does anyone remember the obstruction rule? That’s right, one does exist, although you’d be forgiven for not having realised since it seems to have been thrown out of the game. So much so that it is now perfectly legal to ‘watch’ the ball roll off the pitch, making no attempt to play it, whilst blocking an opponent from getting to it and keeping it in. In fact, the rule has been amended so that any player who attempts to win the ball from the player ‘shielding’ it has a free-kick given against them.
No. 1 The 3-5-2 Formation (March '02)
What could possibly be our problem with wingbacks you might ask. The answer, of course, is nothing – unless it’s Sutton using them. Really, the problem isn’t so much the use of this system but the insistence of playing wingers or midfielders in the role – so that they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. The end result is that these players drift between defence and attack, leaving large gaps at the back and never really getting forward far enough to put in any meaningful crosses. The formation is also unsettling on the three centre-backs and we consequently end up conceding a lot more goals. The world would be a better place if wingbacks were banished to another dimension.