Tackling Problems From The Wrong End?
Late on parade again! I read an article by Martin Samuel in The Daily Mail-aye,I know!-which was adapted from an interview with Wayne Rooney. In it,he admitted to some human foibles,including turning to the booze when the pressure got too much for him and also to deliberately trying to injure an opponent.
Now I have little sympathy for him re the former. Alcohol is meant to be enjoyed,not to be used as a crutch. I freely admit to enjoying the stuff,but one of the benefits of a driving job is that it imposes its own limitations on your intake. I often see people completely out of their face in Swindon and elsewhere,but very rarely indeed when I look in a mirror. Mind you,it’s not for health reasons nor even for appearance’s sake,merely down to the job. And for that,I am always grateful. Re the latter though? I have enormous sympathy.
In football,retaliation is generally treated more severely than the original challenge. The legal system follows the same approach. If someone punches you in the mouth and you boot him severely where it hurts,the old maxim of “Well,he started it!” just won’t wash. And it is even less likely to work if your boot to the hawmaws arrives at a later date.
Wayne decided he was fed up being kicked and worse all over the pitch by a certain opponent,and that this time he was gonna get his retaliation in early! The opponent was his England team-mate John Terry,apparently-which means of course that I have even more sympathy for Wayne! In fact,given Terry’s character,and his reputation inside and outside of the job,he could probably have crowdfunded the attempt and paid off The National Debt.
But he didn’t. He kept it quiet,just went out and did it. Same as his former team-mate did to Alfe-Inge Haaland all those years ago. Frankly,that effort by Roy Keane was appalling,but his reasoning was sound. Roy had suffered a dreadful injury on the field ,and Haaland shouted,screamed,that he was faking injury. He wasn’t. And neither was Haaland,first chance Roy got.
I’m surprised he didn’t get a six month ban for that one,to be honest. But he only admitted to the whole background to it in his “autobiography” after he had retired. The football authorities were powerless to act,outside of a £150,000 fine. Or a good night out,in Campbell Ogilvie land. Rooney however is still in the game as manager of Derby County,where his efforts to save them from relegation-which by the way are crucial to saving them from liquidation-should in my opinion be rewarded by Manager of the Year. The interview and the timing of it were severely ill-advised,and there may be consequences for Derby County if Rooney is banned from football for even a month or two.
But the main reason for writing this article is actually Rooney’s weapon of choice,and it is a subject I’ve often raised-funnily enough,in the pub with my mates! His weapon was football studs. Metal ones,and as long as were permitted under the laws of the game. You’ll need to ask SOLKITTS about that,because I don’t know the regulations. But I do remember a colleague at work-Kim from Belfast,about thirty years ago-who dumped another colleague after a few dates because she “thought he was a stud,more like a football stud!”
I wouldn’t take a burst pay packet back to Kim,but she will have been pleasantly surprised that football studs come in the large size too. But why are they still allowed in the modern game? 1979,Celtic were playing games every two days or so to make up for all the cancellations,and Saltires has been regaling us with the stories from a century before and the same problems. They are largely gone now,with the introduction of mandatory undersoil heating. So has pushing the goalkeeper into the net to claim a goal,andeven the tackle from behind. (Scotland was the last major Association to ban it,and quite recently. See if you can guess why)
Safety is paramount in every aspect of life nowadays. No new task should be undertaken without a risk assessment. Try climbing a ladder without safety gear and a hard hat. Sky installers dress up as mountain climbers tackling the North Face of the Eiger!
Footballers are still allowed to wear pieces of metal attached to their boots,which concentrate the momentum put into tackles into a few very small areas. And being relatively small and sharp-compared to being tackled with a flat sole which would spread the impact,they are very capable indeed of causing all sorts of injury. Ask George McCluskey,whose leg was opened up by a flick of the boot from Graeme Souness. Or Alf-Inge Haaland. Any number of footballers,at all levels. And they are unnecessary nowadays with the improvement in pitches.
But wait,what about the Sunday League players,the grass-roots who play on pitches which still resemble those in 1979 or even from the SALTIRES EN SEVILLA articles? Well,the answer to that is not the patented Yogi Hughes pair of sannies,it is close though. Moulded football studs will still grip when a twelve stone man or even a ten stone woman is planting his and her feet in the turf. They are vastly improved from my days when they were barely millimetres long and provided nothing,like wearing ice skates. But the important thing is that the GIVE upon impact,like catseyes when you run over them. They are laid on a rubber pad which absorbs the impact when you drive a 32-ton tanker over them. They can sure as hell absorb the impact from ten or twelve stone of footballer.
Football safety has been under the spotlight in recent years because of the long-term problems caused by heading the ball. The game has lost some genuine legends to health issues likely to have been caused by what is really an intrinsic part of the game, Yet,the authorities have taken the decision in many countries that it is NOT an intrinsic part of the game,and actively penalise it in youth games. I’m not sure that the damage occurs at an early age any more than in a player’s peak years,so it may be lip service. American Football is also trying to reduce impact injuries,while rugby is getting its knickers in a twist,with players getting bigger and faster,and much stronger. I think there may be fatalities from collisions in the game shortly,but it is a game which is almost impossible to adapt,being perhaps the most physical of all field sports. You cannot avoid contact in rugby and we can hardly handicap the players,like in horse racing,with ten pounds of lead.
You don’t want that hitting you when you go into a tackle!
But football is alive to the problems that playing the game causes. Even if they are being reactive and indeed protective of the past,with a refusal to admit that there was culpability. Indeed there properly wasn’t,as it is materials science which has improved that aspect of safety. Hardly fair to blame someone for using tools that weren’t available at the time,is it?
Anyone remember heading a laced up ball? It only hurt when you headed the laces? Probably not-but you weren’t aware of it at the time,it caused the same damage internally EVERY time it impacted you. But they are gone.
Anyone remember playing with a ball which didn’t have enough Dubbin on it,or even any? A rainy day and it was getting hit with a sledgehammer. The ball comes across,you rise majestically to divert it towards goal-and the bliddy thing damn near knocks you out while barely deviating on its trajectory.
All of these things are now belatedly acknowledged in the game,and have actively been worked upon for years. Of course it is too late for our heroes,but we have to accept that,and the pleasure they got from simply playing for us.
But there is still that problem that everyone is looking upstairs for the answers,to show that they care. That head and brain injuries will be a thing of the past.
But more damage is done by the feet,and there is a simple solution. Even if you don’t like it,or if players take time to adapt,fall on their arse on occasion. Studs are a problem which has to be resolved.
Above article by BMCUWP