Mark Saggers was talking to Alex Griffiths
Might it just be possible, do you think, to inject a word of sense into the current debate over dangerous kicking? Yes, I’ve read the Laws and I get it when it comes to duty of care.
But we seem to be losing sight of the bleedin’ obvious here: heading is far more dangerous than a stray high kick here and there. It always will be, too, but we are not seriously ever going to ban that, are we?
Sport, like life, can be dangerous, and the day we say goodbye to the skills of the overhead practitioners, from Klaus Fischer to Wayne Rooney, is the day we really should all shuffle off home to the safety of our bed.
I want to hear from someone in the game at a time like this, and if it’s not a current referee, then why not one of their leaders?
Just come out and tell us this is where we are when it comes to these challenges that seem to all have come at once, from Mane, Ritchie, Luiz and so on… tell us definitively what’s dangerous and what is not.
Then, just maybe, we won’t get this bandwagon effect where the offence which is flavour of the month is highlighted over all other incidents… and we have all been guilty of that at times in the media.
It’s a sad fact, of course, that the players don’t help themselves, either, and at Stamford Bridge Koscielny was a perfect example of how things are made unnecessarily complicated for the likes of Michael Oliver.
OK, he was shocked as he was hit in the hand, but the way he has gone down made it look to the crowd of players around him as if he’d been knocked out!
Now, these things can’t be blamed on referees indefinitely… how about showing respect for your fellow professional, eh?
Chris Turner, to whom they dedicated a statue at Peterborough earlier this month, died a couple of years ago, his death accelerated by Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy… as was that of Jeff Astle.
Honest centre half, inspiring manager and a good enough judge of a player to put Gary Breen and Dion Dublin on the path to the very top, he was also my best friend in football.
To be honest, there wasn’t much left of the Chris I once knew by the end, but one thing I do know is he’d have had his career all over again in a heartbeat.
I’m a patron of the Jeff Astle Foundation and I am satisfied that the FA is rightly across the investigations that are ongoing into the facts surrounding concussion, as it should be.
That does not mean I want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and once again I fear that over-reaction to what are ultimately isolated incidents are getting in the way of the men and women in the middle doing their job.
We don’t want a game free of the physical challenge, and while some might argue the game has changed beyond recognition in that respect in any case, others might say it’s only been for the greater good.
Let’s not lose any more of the art of defending for the sake of avoiding a few stitches, and take the time to let our officials judge each challenge on its own merits!
Until next time, take care, Saggs.