Twelfth Man

I’m currently reading One Night In Turin by Pete Davies (previously known as All Played Out), a fascinating book about the 1990 World Cup focusing on the England team, it’s a wonderfully written book and one of the lines that stood out for me was this one:

Because at a football game you don’t just watch, you take part

I get what he means, not just because of the way that as a fan you join in with the chanting and clapping and communal spirit of the supporters, but also because when it’s the team you love or just a particularly good game as a neutral, you get involved. You groan at the misses, argue with the ref when he gives a soft foul or gesticulate madly when he misses a blatant penalty, you celebrate like a maniac when your team score, you tense up at penalties and you mourn a defeat.

As a fan all you can do to influence the game is cheer loudly and that this inspires your teams. Aside from that you’re left no option but to hope, pray and occasionally sacrifice the odd goat at the altar of sport as you watch from the stands.

But what if you could get closer and intervene?

Last season, a dickhead ball boy at the Liberty decided to help the Swans out by stalling for time. This led to Chelsea player Eden Hazard trying to get the ball back and kicking out at the ball boy, who proceeded to roll around on the floor as if Bruce Lee had kidney punched him.

At everyone was calling for Hazard’s head but as time passed it became increasingly hard to sympathize with the ball boy- this wasn’t some kid but a teenager, he was loaded (I know that shouldn’t matter but finding out ), seemed a wanker on his Twitter page (anyone who describes themselves as a “LAD (sic)” seems a douche) although he did sell it for charity, so maybe he’s not all that bad, but it still hurt his standing in the public.


But, when you’re that close it must be tempting to intervene. But you shouldn’t. You really shouldn’t, because you could get a deserved kicking.

Which brings us to the story of Brazilian fourth division side Aparecidense and their physio. During an important play off match, their physio was loitering behind the goal as their opponents Tupi surged forward. The clock was winding down and Tupi needed a goal to put them through.

With an open net they fired on goal, at which point the physio stepped onto the pitch, cleared off the line. Twice. Now, this was a fine defensive performance, albeit a highly illegal one. The ref didn’t see it and Tupli went out on goal difference.

Understandably annoyed they went for the Physio, who showed some good pace as he legged it to the tunnel where police protected him. Watch the madness here:

Tupi are calling for a rematch and are rightfully pissed off with the outcome. I hope they get the rematch because it’s an unbelievably cruel way to be denied, as it was clearly heading for the back of the net if this numpty hadn’t got in the way. Whether he faces disciplinary action is unknown but the Brazilian FA need to do something, although I suspect he’ll keep his job and become a kind of local legend among Aparecidense.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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