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You Want Respect? Yer Having A Laugh

Posted by on November 11, 2008 10:34 PM | 

RESPECT! It is the watchword of the lawless urban ghetto as blinged up, brain dead wannabe alpha males with aggressive haircuts and body language impose their position in the status quo by primitive posturing, foul mouthed invective and surrounding isolated authority figures screaming gansta patois threats in their face.

If the FA's Soho Square Posse want respect they should respond in kind, take offence at their homies being dissed and ice the worst offenders in a drive-by. West Side!


It is no good blaming the referees getting decisions wrong for the game's collapse into anarchy. It is the players who systematically cheat, dive, foul and try to maim opponents and intimidate officials in a quest for victory at all costs that need bringing to heel; them and the dug-out despots who defend and encourage outrageous behaviour and who can barely contain their emotional Krakatoa within.

Referees don't kick, punch, pull, trip or elbow their rivals. They don't put the ball out of play then appeal furiously for a throw or corner. They don't cynically scythe players then down from behind then stand above the prostrate body pouring abuse on them and accusing them of feigning injury while the stretcher bearers scurry over. They don't stomp Scottishly along the touchline with faces spittle flecked in irrational fury, confronting the fourth official over a cast iron penalty they couldn't possibly have seen.

So why are the studio sheep and hysteria-mongers in the tabloids siding with the managers as they blame officials for the credit crunch, Laura White being voted out of the X-Factor and the moral decline of the Western world?

And supporters are no better. "You want respect? Yer having a laugh" was the Boro fans chant at hapless Lee Mason during a frantic few minutes in the Manchester City match in which both sets of players and the man in black had a string of comical howlers. It was very funny but not for the first time the mob had picked the wrong scapegoat.

Refs have always made mistakes and some real corkers, it must be said. Given the increasing speed of the game, the failure of evolution to make the genetic leap to eyes with 360 degree and x-ray vision and the systematic attempts by 22 miscreants to bend the rules, it is amazing they do not make more.

As Howard Webb said: "It hurts when that happens. I will go home after a game where I have made a mistake and I will not be very pleased with myself. I'd hate to think people feel we drive away from games happy with ourselves when we have made a mistake. We are only human. We want to be as accurate as we can be, as often as we can be."

Mistakes, however much they echo the pratfalls of Disney characters, are different from a deliberate policy of cheating and a direct refusal to accept the decisions and authority of both the referee on the pitch and the FA off it. That is where respect is being eroded and that is where football authorities are being 'dissed'.

It is no good bowing to the pressure of the poison pen pack or fear of a pitchfork wielding mob led by an unholy alliance of garrulous Glaswegian shop-stewards and visually challenging Gallic intellectuals and banning individual officials from taking charge of particular powerful clubs. That undermines respect for the FA far more than a ref giving a dodgy penna or an offside flag going up to early.

Personally I won't take the "respect" initiative seriously until referees start booking - then sending off - the sweary Mary spud faced scouse slaphead every time he has lip-readers spluttering tea all over the screen after one of his weekly televised tirades... and then ban his surly supremo too when the inevitable bitter and paranoid rant follows.

So long as the most high-profile players and bosses in the country are being allowed to scream in the faces of referees and laugh in the face of the rulebook it will be impossible to impose any form of discipline lower down the pecking order.

How can a ref who allows synchronised snarling to go unpunished in one game then be taken seriously as objective, fair-minded arbiters if they whip the yellow card out in another for a far less serious offence? Yet who can blame them when they are not backed in making the big decisions by spineless suits terrified of taking on the bums on seats political power of the Big Four in a turf war?

Refs know that if they upset Sir Alex or Arsene they will be vilified in the post match press conference, monstered in the media and left high and dry by the FA. The biggest blow to respect for officials so far this season came when the suppine FA crumbled and overturned a perfectly legitimate red card for John Terry on appeal.

Cards and bans are needed for infringements of the rules. If it takes Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea to have three players each sent off every week for a month so be it. Their squads are big enough to cope anyway. If it takes games to be abandoned, £1m fines and ultimately double digit points deductions, so be it. If the FA are serious about restoring respect them they most adopt a zero tolerance position and impose it ruthlessly on the recidivists and most visible offenders.

Players, especially players at the very top, need to know they are not exempt from the laws of the game and referees need to know their decisions will be respected first and foremost by the FA when they uphold them.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/7721049.stm

The Football Association will seek a meeting with the League Managers' Association (LMA) in an attempt to get its Respect campaign back on track.


Comments (52)

Richard wrote...

AV:

I was doing fine with your article until I reached the phrase “……stomp Scottishly along the touchline with faces spittle flecked in irrational fury……”.

I then began to read the rest with increasing irritation and with a far more critical eye than I may otherwise have done. I freely admit that my reaction is because I’m Scottish. But I am not Alex Ferguson.

Then there was a derogatory reference to Glaswegian shop stewards. Not my own favourite genre, I have to say, but nevertheless, in the context in which you referred to them, having already stereotyped my countrymen, it wasn’t difficult to see which way your thoughts were aligning.

By this time I was beginning to feel a trifle uneasy and was focusing not on the “Respect” campaign but the “Kick Racism out of Sport” campaign, wondering if it was really anything other than being English that you objected to.

This was reinforced somewhat when I came across the “Gallic” reference.

Later, I was a little relieved, but at the same time alarmed, to come across the reference to “the sweary Mary spud faced scouse slaphead” – which I presume is a thinly-veiled reference to Wayne Rooney.

In fact, much of the piece that you have written is, ironically, well, frankly, DISRESPECTFUL.

Respect doesn’t guarantee respect returned. But without it, you’re on a loser from the start.

As a journalist, if you’re going to take the moral high ground, then as a minimum, you surely have to, at the very least, pay lip service to the principle you’re defending or advocating and not be disrespectful yourself?

Otherwise, who the hell is going to listen to you call for behavioural improvement and restraint?

I believe that in striking the tone which you have, in such a belligerent way, you have actually demonstrated precisely the same qualities that you rightly, in principle, have sought to denigrate and which, I agree, form (part of) an issue that the sport needs to be addressing.

Not the greatest piece you’ve ever produced!

PS No personal offense taken - but do it again Jimmy, an’ ye’ll get a chibbin’!

**AV writes: Mea culpa. "Blah blah blah... the lad was just showing how much he cares... blah blah blah... can't take the passion out of the game... blah blah blah... fiery Northern temperment... etc"

Posted by: Richard  | November 12, 2008 1:14 AM

BoroAbuDhabi wrote...

Spot on AV. You don't get that rubbish in Rugby, League or Union, where the players are twice the size of many refs. It could all be sorted within a month if the FA really wanted to do it.

Posted by: BoroAbuDhabi  | November 12, 2008 6:24 AM

Aberdeen Brian wrote...

Agree with your comments AV, reform has to be driven top-down not bottom-up.

No wonder young kids have no respect for themselves or others when they see these "role-models" behaving the way they do and getting away with it. They see people of their father's generation - aye, and their grandfather's - exhibiting no respect for authority at all!

Any spectators caught making racist remarks are, rightly so, banned from the stadium. Yet no one seems to realise that scourging referees and officials is just another form of racism. In this instance it is the colour of the uniform rather than the skin that is the driving force.

All these po-faced players and managers will tell you hand-on-heart how much they detest racism, yet openly decry genuine human mistakes from someone who has had the audacity to make decisions they disagree with.

Let the officials go on strike for a few weeks and see the change in attitude when no games can be played and no revenue from bums on seats.

Perhaps the fans will also realise that without the officials, good decisions and bad, there would be no game to watch at all.

Referees make mistakes, they always have and always will under the current set-up. Most people accept that what goes around comes around (difficult at the time though it sometimes is - mind you I never heard many moans from the home supporters when Jimmy Floyd won? a penalty against Roma).

Players and managers who openly criticise officials who make genuine mistakes should be banned from the ground for a minimum number of games, the number to be increased for future outburts.

Remember - top-down not bottom-up.

Perhaps this might also help to dispel the feelings of "them and us" between the top clubs and those lower in the pecking order.

Posted by: Aberdeen Brian  | November 12, 2008 7:32 AM

rainman007 wrote...

I agree, if the FA really wanted to restore respect into football then they should instruct their refs to follow the rules which they themselves created at the beginning of the season. What is the point of creating rules where by any disrespect towards the officials is punishable by firstly a warning and then a yellow and eventually red card if they are only going to be followed for the first few games of the season.

Also as you have touched on in your article, in order to in force these new rules it requires everyone to abide by them. So to watch high profile players and managers a like blatantly ignoring them week in week out is further undermining the FA's grasp of their own rules and ultimately reinforcing the FA as a laughing stock.

Posted by: rainman007  | November 12, 2008 8:54 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

Respect, not an issue in rugby or cricket.

Oddly both have embraced technology to some extent. As cricket has so much more time to review let us go back to my pet topic of discipline in rugby.

If you moan at ref you are penalised and marched back ten yards, penalties are reversed. Football had a half hearted attempt at imposing discipline but it fell by the wayside because of the lack of will in the game.

Video evidence. Refs cant see everything from every angle when an incident takes a fraction of a second, the pundits see a dozen replays from different angles and then cant agree so we have to accept the refs decision as it happens.

What can be done is look at incidents later to catch cheats. You may not have cast iron proof of diving but you dont have to catch many to have an effect.

Ronaldoveragain would be caught though he isnt the worst and only villain. The three incidents against us brought howls of indignation but in one he stepped on the ball and fell over as Swarz came out, he didnt dive, the ref gave a shocker. He did dive to get Boat booked and win a free kick. The third was a poor challenge by Woodie and we couldnt argue, even Woodie had no complaints. So we know one was a dive so punish him.

Horrible challenges can be picked up by camera and are shown on TV on MOTD and sundry Sky and Setanta shows. There is no reason why the FA cant act. Rugby does it all the time.

Shirt tugging, swearing, spitting, harassing the ref. Even when the ref is in the middle of it you cant be certain he sees it all.

If Rugby can do it so can football but there is no will. The problem is made worse for our FA because people like Blatter and Platini (I dont know the names of all the leaders of the various regional bodies so it isnt my usual rant against Kermit) are unwilling to act and what is more would overule any actions. They would even threaten sanctions.

They have favourites who they dont want to annoy, powerful figures and clubs such as Real and Barca where one suspects they get more decisions there way than even the big four in England do. I suppose it is like Formula 1 where Ferrari are untouchable.

Then there is inconsistency of punishment, Aliadiere and Barton had so many similarities it is unbelievable that one gets an extra match and nothing happens to the other.

West Ham get caught with an ineligible player, found guilty of cover up, keep playing him and dont get points deducted because it would be unfair on fans. Small clubs get into financial difficulty and have ten points deducted, no one thought of their fans.

The fans are not immune to criticism but even there you have double standards. At Villa the police and stewards were there in mass to ensure away fans sat down. 30 yards away was a whole stand of Villa fans stood up and not a steward in sight.

Abusive chanting goes on and is not challenged. Football is trying but wrings its hands. An easy solution is to ban fans for a match. If it is away fans, dont sell tickets and make the club pay for the tickets it normally would have sold.
If it is home fans close the offending stand.

There is plenty that could be done but no will to do it and fear of the repercussions from powerful clubs and even worse authorities at a higher level.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 12, 2008 9:43 AM

Werdermouth wrote...

If 'Respect' for the referee is withdrawn by clubs if he makes an error then the campaign is doomed to failure.

Given that every important decision is analysed by TV pundits using a vast array of camera angles, zoomed close-ups, slow motion replays and even computer generated camera angles - non of which were available to the officials - then the referee is on a hiding to nothing.

To address the balance then players should be retrospectively punished for diving, simulation and off-ball incidence using TV evidence in a post match debriefing, which should be carried out by the same team of officials who handled the match.

Also, why not make the accumulation of red and yellow cards over each quarter of the season lead to a points deduction if they exceed a set limit rather than handing out derisory fines - especially if dissent is properly punished both during the game and more importantly for comments after the game.

Unfortunately in Today's game, respect is directly proportional to the size of the wage packet, which has lead to an upside-down heirachy where the players call the shots ahead of managers, referees and governing authorities.

Posted by: Werdermouth  | November 12, 2008 9:48 AM

Nigel wrote...

A timely article from AV and the basic message hits the nail on the head, but Richard's response is insightful to say the least.

The Respect campaign is an important FA iniative in my opinion. As the secretary of a youth football club based in Barnet and affiliated to the Middlesex FA I am all to aware of the abuse and assaults that referees officiating in Sunday/Saturday league football at all levels suffer from. Some of the incidents are nothing short of outrageous and action is required.

But as AV quite rightly points out the example needs to be set from the top and quite frankly the FA as an organisation is too weak and its officials too incompetent to tackle the issue succesfully at Premiership level.

The FA should be aiming to discipline severley the managers of the prem. teams whose actions and words towards referees are a disgrace, and most are guilty of it, English, Irish, French, Scottish, Welsh etc etc. The managers are the leaders and they set the example, get them into line and the players would follow.

Sadly this Respect campaign will fail because the FA doesn't have the balls to act where it knows it needs to.

I'm glad Boro has a manager who is intelligent emough to know that as a leader he doesn't need to show aggresion and disrespect toward anyone in order to lead.

Posted by: Nigel  | November 12, 2008 10:50 AM

chris  wrote...

Not being funny AV but didnt we get our best result of the season on Sunday?

Personally that is something id much rather discuss than referees, wayne rooney and the FA. Surely a blog on the notable improvement of boro boo boys Gary O'neil and Justin Hoyte or the incredible Tuncay would have been more appropriate?

**AV Writes: The problem for me is that I write a live on-line match report (gazettelive.co.uk, where the unfolding action is) plus three pieces of colour, analysis and player quotes for the Monday/Tuesday paper. By then I am all matched out and, unless there is a really pressing unresolved issue, ready to move on.

Can I refer you to Boro Banter (borobanter.gazettelive.co.uk/pundits) where some of the regular bloggers on here also cover hot topic arising from the game?

Posted by: chris  | November 12, 2008 11:08 AM

keenog wrote...

Are Boro in a basement battle, followed by Respect, yer having a laugh.

In case you hadn't noticed AV we have just won away from home at Aston Villa, Tuncay got two goals and Ross had another blinder.

COME ON BORO !!!

Posted by: keenog  | November 12, 2008 11:19 AM

Grove Hill wallah wrote...

To continue the Rugby analogy, perhaps Football can adopt the "On report" scenario. Sometimes it is obvious by players and crowd reactions that something untoward has gone on that the referee hasn't seen. He has the option of putting it "On report" for a disciplinary panel to look at. Once something has been seen to have happened fines and suspensions are administered.

Posted by: Grove Hill wallah  | November 12, 2008 11:59 AM

Nigel wrote...

chris/keenog - Maybe the chance to debate how succesful a season or not Boro are having will come if we win another couple of matches in succesion, we did have a great result at Villa, but there is only so much to be said about it isn't there?
I for one can't wait for Sunday's match, but in the mean time for me the Respect campaign is an excellent issue to debate and even though he made Richard cough AV's article was spot on for me.

Posted by: Nigel  | November 12, 2008 12:03 PM

John Powls wrote...

Just to add further to the comments with a few others.

1. Self-regulation never works for the all the customers - in any area of human endeavour. You know you've stepped through a mirror somehow when some 'professional' body says 'leave it to us'. Forget footy and the bleats of the LMA, PGMOL, The Premier League and Sky - look at the excesses of the media and banking.

2. You really are in trouble when those who should be doing the regulating abdicate their responsibility. I take absolutely what is said above about the FA and Blatter, Platini et al. Also see the media regulators, the FSA and the Treasury departments around the world.

3. The sad lesson for football from the other areas of endeavour that I refer to is that the system isn't self-correcting, especially where the money bubble envelopes enough of those involved. The view from inside the bubble is distorted by definition. It takes a major crisis for things to change and corrections to be made.

4. That such a crisis will come about is beyond argument - the only questions are what it will be, when it will happen and what the damage will be in the meantime and from the crisis. Football also has its own experience of this phenomenon in relation to stadium safety in the past.

5. Life, football, following Boro and blogs aren't linear they're about discontinuity.

Posted by: John Powls  | November 12, 2008 12:21 PM

Pat Mc, Dubai wrote...

Aberdeen Brian I agree that this subject must be tackled by the top brass, however the call for respect must also, and maybe importantly, come from the bottom up as well

I refer specifically to those moronic parents who go to ‘support’ their kids on a Saturday or Sunday who scream blue murder at the referee when he makes a decision involving their innocent little one. When I watched my lads playing on the Sandy Flatts pitches a few years back, I was shocked at the vitriolic bile spewing from the mouths of otherwise decent people.

If a kid sees his Mam and Dad screaming at a ref then its ok for him isn’t it? In fact, their behaviour actually encourages the kid to scream at the ref. The little fella will automtically think he is in the right by doing so. And I’m not making any direct reference to the class, creed or colour of any particular parent here. The ‘posh ones’ are just as bad as all others. There is no discriminition when it comes to referee abuse.

It seems to be an inbuilt aggressive defence of their poor son who has been deliberately punished by an evil dastardly character dressed in black. It’s as though they forget he is actually a regular human being who is out there on a wet November morning giving up his time so that these kids can indeed enjoy a game of ‘competitive' football.

I know of two workmates who gave up refereeing, a thing they had loved to do at one time, because of parent abuse, and of course the inevitable young player abuse that followed. As these kids grow up, the abuse factor is in-built and doesn’t ever leave them whether they continue at local level or become professional footballers.

The manager of young/youth teams should write to each and every parent warning them if they abuse the referee, or the opponents, then their child will be dropped from the team. “Grounded” if you want. If it continues, throw the kid out of the club altogether. Tough? You bet it is, because tough action is needed.

At professional level, it is easy to stop. Issue a circular to all professional clubs warning of stricter action against referee abuse, and the APPLY it in the form of more red cards, the introduction of sin-bins and subsequent points deductions.

Posted by: Pat Mc, Dubai  | November 12, 2008 1:25 PM

'Ignorant' of boroland wrote...

John Terry's red recinded what a joke!

Man U players behaving like Oasis!

Arsenal players behaving like children, especially their captain when things dont go their way.

Dirty Mascerano- shrugs his shoulders after a blatant foul-'it wasnt me'
The refs dont stand a chance and if they do punish the offender at man U or Chelsea its death threats and a huge issue as the tabloids sell more fish and chip wrappers!

Respect to Chrissy Riggott who is on fire and should keep his place despite the returning fitness of Huth, keep the central defence partnership playing together as much as possible. If it aint broken dont fix it Gareth.

Well Done on a tremendous performance against Villa.

Posted by: 'Ignorant' of boroland  | November 12, 2008 1:42 PM

Abu Dhabi Cliff wrote...

Couldn`t agree more with your comments AV.

Everyone is cheating to some extent, but the top clubs get away it with because of who they are. There is no point in giving fines and suspensions to these players as they mean nothing. Only a points deduction for the team will hurt them, but will the FA have the guts to do this? I don`t think so.

By the way, hi to boroAbuDhabi - Is there a Boro meeting place here anywhere?

Posted by: Abu Dhabi Cliff  | November 12, 2008 2:17 PM

christopher harrison wrote...

Ahh respect for refs!

From where I am sitting it seems to be the same old diehards who are (or think they are) above the law.

Taggart was gesturing at the ref again after the Hull game, with his pointed finger and face contorted with rage.

Rooney is seen giving the ref foul mouthed four letter abuse almost every game and you guessed it he gets away with it time and time again (what happened to the rule that allows the ref to send off players who swear and abuse officials?), oh i almost forgot he plays for Manchester United!

Ronaldo is seen diving every game then suddenly jumps up when he has conned the ref into getting a free kick.

I remember when Taggart was interviewed after the game against Spurs when Van Der Sar dropped the ball into the goal and grabbed it again and the ref deemed it not to have crossed the line, he was not critical of that decision which must be one of the worst ever. 'it looked like it was over the line' was his post match comment.

Was it not Cantona who jumped into the crowd and attacked a fan? Was it not Ferdinand who missed drug tests? One common denominater - Manchester United.

Respect for refs should be paramount, any player/manager/coach who swears, abuses, or gesticulates at officials should be banned end of story.

Posted by: christopher harrison  | November 12, 2008 2:30 PM

uxter wrote...

I concur AV, the playing field is as level as the old Wembley pitch! but its always been so!

Posted by: uxter  | November 12, 2008 2:31 PM

Richard wrote...

John Powls:
Point #4: Anfield and Goodison, in the next couple of months might be at the epicentre of something - if Sky Sports' news story today has some substance behind it!

Point #5: Everything's connected. But like Eric Morecambe said to Andre Previn, "I played the right notes,....they were just in the wrong order!"

Pat Mc, Dubai:
Good shout. Echoed my point to AV about leading by example. It applies to everyone who DOES know better, but chooses to indulge themselves instead of acting correctly in accordance with the agreed protocols.

As John Powls has pointed out, the issue is with the leading generation and those making and enforcing "the rules" in every walk of life (including Journos!!).

Society gets what society deserves. And if we want a better, fairer, more caring and respectful society, then those of us who do, had better lead by example. Because our kids and others learn from it.

There's no denying that we need a system of strong sanction enforced by strong leadership if change for the better is to be effected.

I still consider that there is a case for greater technological assistance for referees.

It's genuinely hard for people to distinguish between the system and those who are working it. People are being asked to respect referees who although they are undoubtedly doing their best, are week after week, routinely having their weaknesses as part of an inadequate system, exposed by television replays. THAT isn't so much a problem of any individual incompetence, but a fundamental weakness in the system of measurement and control.

If the same standards of measurement and control were applied in the process industries as are applied to football, there wouldn't be a refinery, chemical plant or modern manufacturing factory left standing anywhere in the world! They'd have all burned down, blown up or have gone out of business because of cost ineffectiveness!

We'd still be living the medieval life.

But still, we stick with the man, his whistle and two outriders with flags.

Just like the earliest cars and steam trains!

Mmm!


Nigel: Thanks for your support. Respect, man! Respect!

Posted by: Richard  | November 12, 2008 3:28 PM

paul bell wrote...

Refs often bring about their own problems by their overblown arrogance. Some of them think that they are stars of the show or that they public school headmasters admonishing naughty boys.

Posted by: paul bell  | November 12, 2008 5:13 PM

Kenneth McLaughlin wrote...

Read your comments with interest and would like you to know that one of our boys here in Canada complained to the referee. When questioned by the coach as to why, his comment was that he watched the players on TV doing it.

The coach benched him for the rest of the game and banned him for the next game. The coach then apologised to the ref after the game and made the whole team do the same.

We as parents, including the boys parents, backed the coachs actions. In our small way we are trying to get the boys to respect the referee who is only doing his best.

Posted by: Kenneth McLaughlin  | November 12, 2008 5:47 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

I noted your reponse to Chris about the time you have available.

Even multi billionaires like yourself have time constraints. What is of interest is how few people respond to Boro Banter despite some interesting pieces.

Historically I followed you onto this thread to get away from the message board. Boro Banter has arrived and I have responded many times only to be rebuffed by the software. I have tried to make the system work but I only have so much time.

I must admit I like this medium, we wander off and discuss other items and as such it is not as restrictive as Boro Banter (This is not a criticism of the contributors).

I dont know who decides on the structure of the various interactive media involvements with the fans. I am sure it was done with the best of intentions but I can see no evidence of it working apart from your Untypical Boro.

No doubt I will have a visit from Trinity Mirror gents in ill fitting suits and shades. Just watch that daffodil on your desk.

**AV writes: What problems are you having with posting on Boro Banter? If there are specific issues I can refer them to our uber-geeks. There have been teething problems but I think most have been resolved now.

I think readership figures are healthy and rising steadily on there. Having a few different writers means there is something fresh pretty much every day so people dip in to read but as yet haven't got into the habit of responding. There comes a stage where boards reach a critical mass and take on a dynamic of their own and it is early days. On my first post on here only J Powls commented.

I would urge readers from here to check out the Boro Banter site where there are some well informed and well argued pieces. Richard has some interesting stats on goal times on his latest bit that are thought-provoking.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 12, 2008 8:29 PM

Pedro de Espana wrote...

This is all just one part of the rather sad indictment of society as a whole. There is very little respect or courtesy generally in every day life today, to many do-gooders and weak bodies unwilling to make the hard but necessary desisions that we all know are required.

Posted by: Pedro de Espana  | November 12, 2008 9:07 PM

James Emmerson wrote...

Agree with many of the general sentiments here, i.e. refs actually using the powers they already have, and introduction of video replay - long overdue I think.

While I support the principles of Respect I think the FA have got their message hopelessly mixed.

I run a Saturday U12's side in a local league in Stockport, and at our monthly managers meeting next week all clubs are having to sign up to the 'Respect' campaign. In practice this means that managers, players and parents of our players have to sign a contract agreeing to a code of conduct.

Essentially this is about non-players keeping off the pitch and everyone not hurling abusing the ref, but the campaign goes further and obliges every club to pay £35 to purchase a set of 'barriers' behind which all parents must stand in future. Parents are all going to have to stand on the same side of the pitch, whereas the managers and subs must be on the opposite side.

No-one will be allowed to stand behind the goals.

Now to me this is nothing more than a bit of opportunism. £35 is a lot of money for clubs to pay for barriers, let alone the logistical hassles of storing yet more gear, bringing to games etc. Parents whose kids keep goal - a thankless task at junior level - understandably like to be nearby to offer support & encouragement, but now they can't.

I think everyone gets generally aggravated by the fact that refs in League football get away scot-free (sorry Scottish Richard, where does that phrase come from?)with glaring errors week after week. No meaningful penalty or punishment.

In junior football, however, it's very similar. We have to pay refs £20 plus expenses, but if they don't turn up, or get a poor mark from managers, there's no obvious penalty applied to them.

The FA is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. And it is also failing to address the inconsistent or plain poor standards that too many refs demonstrate week after week at all tiers of the game.

Posted by: James Emmerson  | November 12, 2008 9:45 PM

Neil M wrote...

One problem is the power of Rupert Murdoch. He owns Sky and they are totally dependent on the Premier League and he owns half of the national press who uncritically support the Prem.

The tabloid news agenda just follows the contrived post-match hysteria as former players defend and excuse their mates worst excesses however violent or foul-mouth.

Refs always made mistakes in the past but there were just the people in the stadium saw it in real time. Now it is shown from every angle 10 times an hour for days and picked up in the papers and refs are demonised while the players get away with murder.

Posted by: Neil M  | November 12, 2008 11:07 PM

Richard wrote...

James Emmerson:

Truth is, I was no wiser than you about the 'scot-free' derivation. So, I went looking, since it sounded like something that in Alex Salmond's world, every schoolkid North of Hadrian's Wall ought to know!

Having found what I found however, it suggests that there is some justifiable position for my own ignorance. That said, I have little doubt that Salmond will however, at some stage in his campaign of empire fragmentation, find some tenuous justification for claiming its derivation (on behalf of the Scottish nation of course!).

The following is a partial extract from the entry from the following website:

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/scot%20free.html

A scot is a Scandinavian word for tax or payment. It came to the UK as a form of redistributive taxation which was levied as early the 13th century as a form of municipal poor relief. The term is a contraction of 'scot and lot'. Scot was the tax and lot, or allotment, was the share given to the poor.

Scot as a term for tax has been used since then to mean many different types of tax. Whatever the tax, the phrase 'scot free' just refers to not paying one's taxes.

The things you learn on Untypical Boro, eh??

Posted by: Richard  | November 13, 2008 1:06 AM

James Emmerson wrote...

Scottish Richard, most illuminating! An excellent contribution, hoots mon and many thanks!

Posted by: James Emmerson  | November 13, 2008 8:55 AM

BoroPhil wrote...

uh-oh, Didier Digard is the latest player to predict a top-half finish, he'd better prepare himself for the inevitable backlash!

Posted by: BoroPhil  | November 13, 2008 1:40 PM

steve h wrote...

People that complain about the standards of referees could do something about it. They could take up refereeing themselves. I'm sure they have enough vacancies at grass root level.

Posted by: steve h  | November 13, 2008 7:30 PM

gt wrote...

Isnt it funny AV, years past and I've been watching the lads for 45 years,YES the ref was always crap (laughing), but on the way home we were more bothered about the performance, our players, their players, this player did this, that player did that. NO excuses, players where responsible for the result

Posted by: gt  | November 13, 2008 7:41 PM

gt wrote...

just a follow up where are we in the fair play league

Posted by: gt  | November 13, 2008 7:53 PM

Geoff wrote...

Come on AV, do you honestly believe the ref's stand a chance, scared of the big 4.

Like it has been said sky rule the game now and the big 4 get all the money from them, just look at the amount of times they are on the box. It takes them so far ahead from us little clubs, there is no way of catching them.

So too give us all the fair playing field, get the big clubs to toe the line and hit them harder. But as we all know that will never happen. How else would the FA ru(i)n the great game?

Posted by: Geoff  | November 13, 2008 8:27 PM

Allycat wrote...

I don't particularly want to defend refs, many of them are officious little jobsworths. However, the number of mistakes made by players that lead to goals/penalties far outweigh anything that referees do. Funny though that the manager or the player will never take responsibility for their errors - its always someone elses fault.

The main problem is the power mad little men that make up stupid rules and force referees to stick to the letter of the law. They are not making split second decisions, they apparently have made considered and thoughtful judgements that in recent times have done nothing but made the game laughable.

Bear in mind that the purpose of a yellow card is a final warning to a player that unless they behave, they are not fit to stay on the field of play. Serious fouls, intimidation/tantrums and blatant cheating are the only reasons that a yellow card should be issued.

A player celebrating a vital goal by taking his shirt off or running to his own fans at least shows a bit of passion, however it is apparent that passion, drive and determination are frowned upon in the corporate era.

Posted by: Allycat  | November 13, 2008 9:55 PM

Richard wrote...

AV:

A brief digression from the respect thread. Following on from your response to Ian Gill at 8.29pm on 12 November and your reference to the goal-time stats on the Boro Banter piece -

I’m indebted to Forever Dormo for taking an oblique (or is it the less Irish version - just bleak?) perspective on the goal-time stats published earlier in the Boro Banter Blog (at the end of the Villafying Sidwell piece).

Forever Dormo points out, from a spectator’s viewpoint, something that, even as a Scot (supposedly canny and conscious of value-for-money?), I had failed to recognise.

Boro’s penchant for leaving much of the goal action until after at least 80 minutes of matches have been played has left early-departing Boro supporters a bit short-changed this season.

So, to do justice (geddit FD?) to Forever Dormo’s insightful observation, I thought I’d have a closer look at what early-leavers have missed exactly!

Whilst I felt that Forever Dormo’s take on it was probably from a home supporter’s standpoint – reinforced by Jiffy’s interesting suggestion, albeit one of dubious pragmatism - for completeness, I’ve had a separate look at Home AND Away matches.

I've posted a follow-up on the BB site for those who may be interested.

Forever Dormo made a VERY good point!

Posted by: Richard  | November 13, 2008 10:41 PM

prioryman wrote...

As someone who watches non league football can I comment on Respect in the pyramid and how the FA have undermined it.

The Northern League had a long standing policy that audible swearing at the ref or an opponent was an automatic red card which in the ANL was then a five week ban and so maybe 8 or 10 games.

Under pressure from clubs who said they were unfairly penalised, losing players for long spells and maybe being weaker than Unibond or other rivals in the FA Cup and Vase the ANL dropped that stance

When you are in a non league ground with a crowd of 80 if someone swears it can be heard by everyone and some of it is not really fit for kiddies.

So when Respect was launched the ANL tried to reintroduce the zero tolerance policy on swearing (and got a lot of positive national publicity) but the FA prevented them. They said it was an anomoly and prefered to bring swearing within the Respect campaign.

Result: Respect has come to nothing in the pyramid, players are swearing more than ever, referees and ANL officials fell they have been undermined and it is not fit to take kiddies to games.

PS: You have not been to see us at the KGV this season yet AV.

AV writes: I've seen you away though. I'll get there at some point. Have they tarted up my press box yet?

Posted by: prioryman  | November 13, 2008 11:58 PM

Benny Brown wrote...

In a word BRILLIANT Anthony, what can I add, only Keep it up young man, maybe some one, some where, will listen to what you are saying.

Posted by: Benny Brown  | November 14, 2008 12:49 AM

ian wrote...

Why does everything in this world have to rotate around football?

I read the first lines of this article and thought that it was a dig at the chavs who bring torment and torture to many residents of the area, then in the next few lines foosball is mentioned. foosball does my head in!!!

All it means to me is parking problems in the town, idiots with red shirts running across the A66 and then traffic jams on the 66. it is so so sooo overated!!

Have middlesbrough foosball club ever won anything other than hook a duck??
I think the supporters are a pack of sad losers like the team itself.

Support someone or something that can win or be won, like dominos in the local, or a kiss off the pope?? you have got more chance.

**AV writes: To be fair, if you don't have a lot of time for foosball then this isn't really the blog for you.

Posted by: ian  | November 14, 2008 2:06 AM

John Powls wrote...

BoroPhil

I don't think there's any problem with Digard saying that Boro should be aiming for top half. That's realistic and what many of us have been saying for since before the season started.

The particular annoyance - for me, at least, - in so many ways is the use of the 'E' word. 'Europe', that is.

Predicting that at this stage is not something you would hear passing the lips of even the managers of the big four and they think they've got a god-given, or at least money given right to finish there every season.

Using the 'E' word - at this stage of the season, until anyone knows how the cups (including the inter-toto) will wind out - equates to saying Boro will finish in the top five. Realistic?

Nor do the big four ever do, either, what Digard did the other day and say they are going to beat the next team they are playing. Just not done.

I'm happy to believe that in the young Frenchman's case someting was lost in translation. The club website even managed to misquote him in his native language recently!

Posted by: John Powls  | November 14, 2008 9:12 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

AV

I think most of the problems have been sorted (as on here) but did get fed up of being thrown out.

Banter has some really good pieces but tends to be a series of one topic threads, I have probably responded as much as anyone.

Whilst you launch a thread we posters bring in other themes and ideas often covering more than one topic in a post (in my case age and a wandering mind may have something to do with it). This gives greater breadth to the discussion and you dont have to keep going into another post.

If anything Banter may become a feeding point of discussion and people will post here.

Onto Digards comments, I cant see anyone having any issues, the message seemed to have exactly the right balance as did the pronouncements of Coops pre and Gate post Villa.

And finally a comment about Richard and late entertainment. It is very rare for me to leave before the end, I pay for all the match. A major exception was the 2-0 defeat by Citeh pre the FA Cup replay against ManU.

I left disgusted with 25 minutes to go and had still put in 65 minutes more than the team. They were all sat at home with their feet up watching Sky resting for the cup match. A total waste of a day. I was going to comment that the club rounded up the vagrants in Teesside to play but I didnt want to insult the vagrants.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 14, 2008 9:53 AM

Jarkko  wrote...

gt: "just a follow up where are we in the fair play league?" Interesting!

Last year Boro had too many cards - but I like to know where we are in fair play league, too.

Posted by: Jarkko  | November 14, 2008 1:35 PM

Forver Dormo wrote...

Pleased to have been of service, Richard. Your follow-up Boro Banter piece was very informative. Maybe we should encourage people to ARRIVE at about 80 minutes (they could then have an extra 3 pints in the pub...).

And as for Justice, let's see what happens to Drogba now that he has been charged by the FA. A three match ban? We'll see. Anyway it's time for work again.

Posted by: Forver Dormo  | November 14, 2008 2:32 PM

Pat Mc, Dubai wrote...

Jarkko, we sold twenty yellow cards and four reds last summer......otherwise known as Cattermole, Rochemback and Boateng!

Posted by: Pat Mc, Dubai  | November 15, 2008 9:04 AM

Stew wrote...

In response to a couple of questions on the fair play league, I've extracted the following information from the official Premier League website...this is the disciplinary table, so I don't think its exactly the same as the fair play league, but should be fairly similar.

Team Pl Y R Pts
Fulham 11 11 1 14
Hull 12 16 0 16
Chelsea 12 14 1 17
Sunlun/Villa/BORO/Liverpool
12 19 0 19
Newcastle 12 16 2 22
Everton 12 20 1 23
Pompey 12 17 2 23
Bolton 12 22 1 25
Man C 12 16 3 25
Arsenal 12 22 1 25
West Brom 12 25 0 25
Wigan 12 19 2 25
Man U 12 24 1 27
West Ham 12 22 2 28
Stoke 12 25 1 28
Blackburn 12 27 1 30
Spurs 12 22 3 31

This gives us an average of 1.58 points per game so far.

Compared against last season, we were 19th in the table:
Pl 38 Y 85 R 2 Pts 91, at an average of 2.39 points per game, so to date, a significant improvement.

Historic disciplinary info is also available so I've extracted some of it as I thought people might find it interesting...

Season Pos Pts Avg (Most cards)
07/08 19 91 2.39 (Boateng 9Y, O'Neil/Wheater/Young 8Y)
06/07 11 70 1.84 (Boateng 2R, Clattermole/Pogi 10Y)
05/06 6 63 1.66 (Queudrue 6Y)
04/05 10 59 1.55 (Parlour 11Y, Boateng/Zenden 8Y)
03/04 8 62 1.63 (Mills 10Y)
02/03 9 65 1.71 (Queudrue 3R + 7Y)
01/02 10 59 1.55 (Ehiogu/Festa 2R, Queudrue/Ince 8Y)
00/01 20 92 2.42 (Windass 12Y, Cooper/Ince 8Y)
99/00 17 92 2.42 (Ziege 10Y, Ince 8Y)
98/99 14 87 2.29 (Gazza 12Y, Townsend 10Y, Festa 9Y, Mustoe 8Y)

And going back to the Respect debate, most refs in the Sunday League that I play in ignore the abusive language that gets sent their way. A minority stamp it out by dishing out cards. These are the refs that get more respect, because you know you can't shout at them the way that Rooney does or you'll end up with a card and a fine. The sooner refs take a zero tolerance line the better football will be.

Posted by: Stew  | November 15, 2008 12:31 PM

BoroPhil wrote...

JP,

I think 5th place is absolutely a position we should be aiming for this season. Why not?

Posted by: BoroPhil  | November 15, 2008 2:56 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

A bit off topic but some thoughts about other sports, the relevance to Boro will become apparent. With us playing on Sunday I have had a chance to watch other sports.

This weekend England have played cricket against India, Rugby League against New Zealand and Union against Australia. In all the matches we have seen poor basic skills, poor decision making and defeats. Until recently the football team has been the same. may well do so again.

Watched some of Sale Sharks against Worcester, as it was Union there were many players missing due to the union internationals. Both teams still had an international flavour.

Mid week we saw second strings play for ManU, Arsenal and Liverppool. Fergie asserted that his second string were better than Wengers. Liverppols proved to be poor. All were multinational, Liverpool’s had no British players.
We have a tennis tournament that generates an absolute fortune for the British game but a player in the top hundred is as rare as an Uncle Eric attack on Boro.

This is not a rant against foreign players (and substitute British for English because the point still applies) but posing a question about the model we are pursuing at Boro. We have one of the better academies but still struggle to get local strikers and creative players on the pitch. When Huth is fit you half expect Taylor to be benched for Pogo. And I support the idea of local players at a club and developing our own helps the cost base as well as a feeling of identity.

I have made the point before that foreign teams would take a Lampard or a Gerrard or a Terry or a Cole but wouldn’t take more than one. Most of our teams rely on overseas players for the spark that lights the team. For Boro, Tuncay makes a massive difference.

So why don’t we produce more of those players in England (Britain) across so many sports. I am not belittling other sports achievements such as cycling etc.

**AV writes: It is an interesting question. I think in the wider sporting world it is primarily down to two factors: the lack of accessible facilities and the cultural and financial domination of football.

If you are a promising swimmer you need to get to Sunderland or Leeds for a full length pool to step up beyond club level. If you are a promising gymnast the nearest top quality facilities are in Durham. That means the support of parents either rich enough or willing enough to make incredible sacrifices to fund the travel and coaching and then later to stay over to compete in London or Nottingham or Bristol on the way up the ladder to success. Many fall by the wayside.

Mean there is the football juggernaut to contend with. Not only does football soak up almost all the available sponsorship of sport at local level (every average sunday team full of journeymen and veterans can find a backer but young athletes or cyclists struggle to find support) but also the brightest and best natural sportsmen all gravitate towards the glamour and potential riches of football because it is accessible, well organised and sociable.

There are other factors of course, but they are the biggest.

Within football there is a cultural bias against skill which starts very early on as junior teams geared to winning scoop up the biggest, fastest and fittest kids - usually the oldest in their school year - playing full sized games on big pitches. Strength is the biggest asset in that environment and skill is a poor second.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 15, 2008 6:28 PM

BR14 wrote...

You don't see much by way of disrespect for officials in North America, but then there's always the replay judge.

As for rugby, the refs are often miked up and also sometimes have video replay. Not to mention sin bins that mean players don't run the risk of losing the game for the team mates because of a refereeing mistake. You think maybe this has something to do with the "respect" shown to their officials?

Why refs in a sport that is as quick as footie doesn't have the security of video replay is beyond me. All it takes is a few seconds to confirm or deny the refs decision and noone questions the refs at all.

In football there are obvious and sometimes blatent errors and cheats in almost every game, all covered by a host of cameras. And yet this critical evidence is ignored by officials while millions of TV viewers laugh or cry at the idiocy of some of the decisions.

Howard Webb wouldn't have to feel bad after the game if he had the benefit of a video replay official on the sidelines.

Just crazy we don't have it for football. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if there are ulterior motives for refusing technological assistance.

Posted by: BR14  | November 15, 2008 11:14 PM

Ian Gill wrote...

AV

Interesting comments about travelling to make it in other sports. I think we are all aware that the top cyclists use Manchester Velodrome.

You also mention the emphasis on strength in football but a lot of our success in the summer olympics was in events that required endurance rather than hand eye coordination or handling skills. Rowing, cycling and swimming gave us a shedful of medals but are very much physical condition sports (no little talent I am sure). Please dont think I am demeaning those achievements.

On to todays match and fingers crossed.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 16, 2008 8:54 AM

Ian Gill wrote...

AV

Sorry, its me again. The problem is the thoughts are developing as I go along.

We awaited the England squad with interest to see if Wheats was called up once he was left out of the U21's. The answer was no and that is the catalyst to the next thoughts about the Boro model of a football club.

If we assume everyone is fit what would our squad be? Eighteen places up for grabs.

Goal: Turnbull and Jones.

Defence: Hoyte, Riggott, Pogo, Huth. Wheats, Taylor.

Midfield: Downing, O'Neill, Aliadiere, Digard, Shawky, Emnes, Johnson, Arca

Strikers: Alves, Mido, Tuncay.

Oops, thats 19. So who will drop out? Maybe Johnno. The look of the squad tends to balance up the view that home grown players tend to be athletic, honest and skilled rather than the true artists. No slight on Downing or Johnno meant, both are exceptions at this level. Most squads would be something similar.

What is the impact on the Model? Maybe the sales of Cat, Morrison and Davies is the norm, the way forward.

Maybe we will be a provider of good footballers into the lower leagues with the occasional jewel. Maybe that is where income will come from, sales rather than saving on fees.

It is not all gloomy because getting two or thee players into the squad each year is OK, getting income from selling on players is also good news.

Maybe it is a possible thread, I know you are struggling with time constraints.

Posted by: Ian Gill  | November 16, 2008 10:15 AM

John Powls wrote...

BoroPhil

You and I can differ about what aim we think is realistic for Boro but my point was not about what the aim was - doubtless The Scousers, ManUre and Chelski all think winning the Prem is realistic for them and Champs League is a given; The Gunners may now be having their doubts on both - it was about saying it at this point in the season.

The big four never do, so why do some Boro players think they have to use the 'E' word?

The manager and coaches - and latterly, Tuncay have all taken a very reasonable and positive line recently.

Absolutely right - hits the right note when you're on a good run and still sounds OK when, inevitably, you're not.

Posted by: John Powls  | November 16, 2008 12:06 PM

Jarkko wrote...

Call me a foam hander if you like but Boro are still eight in the laegue - after two very difficult away matches.

Everton had the ball but not more goalscoring chances than us. Alves had a few and Dicard had a shot saved to a post.

A draw was a fair result but still we could have got three. The team is that good.


Up the Boro!!!

Posted by: Jarkko  | November 16, 2008 7:50 PM

Forever Dormo wrote...

I realise this will very shortly be overtaken by a Pulitzer standard article from AV on a new thread, but here goes...

I know it's a little late for me to have done this but I have just read the piece by Pat McDonagh dated 22.10.08 in Boro Banter. Maybe more people read these pieces than we thought! Obviously Mido was injured and couldn't have done anything, but the other players seem to have answered the call after that article, and in particular Stewie and O'Neill (not only today but in the previous match) must have taken things to heart as well.

I realise that Mr McDonagh will now take the credit for this turnaround and that GS will make the necessary acknowledgement in his next press conference.

By the way, is anyone now arguing for a new manager? The fifth longest serving in the Premier League, I heard today. Good things often take time. Can it really be sensible for three quarters of the League to have changed its management in the last three and a bit years?

Posted by: Forever Dormo  | November 16, 2008 9:05 PM

david connor wrote...

Yes maybe a draw was a fair result however, Alves is quickly becoming an expensive flop, yet another miserable performance from him in my opinion 3 times he was caught in breakaway but the Everton defence caught him up. It is a pity that his record of scoring in the Dutch league has not been matched here in England, but like I wrote sometime ago the dutch leauge apart from a few teams is equivelent to our first division. I think the money was not spent wisely on him

Posted by: david connor  | November 17, 2008 10:37 AM

Nigel wrote...

Another very good result yesterday and four points from two conseutive away games is excellent. Also we've taken points off teams who will be our potential rivals in the best of the rest zone (ie places 5 to 10).

I thought it was a very good away team performance yesterday, we defended well and out counter attacking was sharp.

Digard is looking like a good player to me and he is a far more potent attacking threat than The Boat ever was.

A new challenge awaits next week, Bolton will be no doubt happy to leave with a point and will play accordingly, it will be up to us to break them down an early goal would be handy.

Posted by: Nigel  | November 17, 2008 10:52 AM

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