Posts tagged ‘England’
It definitely won’t happen in the next nine years, and in truth is unlikely to happen in the next 13 years. What are we talking about? England hosting the FIFA World Cup.
If they do decide to bid for 2026, and if they do manage to ‘convince’ all the key voters to give them the hosting rights one wonders whether the brits will follow what is fast becoming a nostalgic sideshow of the World Cup finals, the unique local football instrument.
Fans and viewers had to endure the Vuvuzela in South Africa, and one’s ears buzzed for hours after the experience. Now in Brazil next years ears will be bombarded by the cacophony of the Caxirola.
The organisers revealed the percussion instrument last week painted in patriotic green and yellow. According to Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff ‘the caxirola is not only compatible with football, but is a symbol of our country’s huge capacity to offer a much better instrument than the vuvuzela.”
As with the Vuvuzela, the world cup Caxirola’s will be made from recycled plastic, although the caxirola is said to produce ‘a harmonious ratting sound” when shaken.
If England were to win the hosting rights to the 2026 World Cup finals would we see the football rattle resurrected as a traditional football instrument? These wooden objects were twirled around above your head and made, not surprisingly, a rattling sound. However in the late 1970′s as hooliganism started to invade the game, they were outlawed due to being deemed a possible weapon. Would our nostalgic friends at FIFA welcome them back in the spirit of tradition? Time will tell.
There is no doubting West Indian Chris Gayle’s record-breaking 175 for Royal Challengers of Bangalore will be an innings that is talked about for many years to come. A century in 20 balls is a truly remarkable feat. His 175 coming in just 66 balls and including 17 sixes and 13 fours, statistics that beggar belief.
This innings may also increase the divide between cricket fans of differing generations.
His incredible innings was compiled in a T20 match in the Indian Premier League, an officially recognised first class fixture, but a form of the game that many traditional fans of the game frown upon. A game in which it is frequently a case of hit and miss – as Gayle is testament to – and a form of the game where brute strength is a substitute for solid technique.
So where should this innings stand? Is it the greatest ever played? Or is that determined by the context of the game and not the number of runs scored and how quickly. There is no doubt Chris Gayle probably doesn’t care.
Chris Gayle opted to make himself a ‘gun for hire’ after he fell out with the West Indies Cricket Board, just as T20 was becoming popular. He knew he was talented, and he also realised if he was to make a living from cricket he better focus on T20 where the opportunities were far greater. Immense credit must go to Gayle who has adapted his technique to suit this form of the game. He uses minimum footwork which is complimented by his ability to transfer his weight by leaning back or forwards. He then lets his long arms from his 6-foot 4-inch frame swing freely through the arc to great effect. Another aspect he has tinkered with and which works exceptionally well in this form of the game is staying deep in his crease, which enables him to get under the ball and combined with his huge strength lift it over the boundary. This innings being a perfect example of that ploy.
There have been many great innings in the game of cricket, in the one day version as well as the Test arena, so where does Gayle’s latest effort rate amongst them.
Some wonderful innings that spring to mind to start the debate, are Viv Richards 189 not out in a One day International in 1984 at Old Trafford against England. Who can forget Herschelle Gibbs 175 off 111 balls against Australia at the Wanderers in 2006. Many forget too that the ‘little master’ India’s Sachin Tendulkar did what many believed impossible scoring 200 in a one-day international against South Africa at Gwalior in 2010.
There have been many outstanding innings in the test arena as well, who can forget VVS Laxman’s 281 against Australia in Kolkata in 2001, or Ian Botham’s 149 not out at Headingley in 1981, also against Australia. Then there is Gordon Greenidge’s 214 not out against England at Lords in 1984, and Steve Waugh’s 108 at Manchester in 1997.
The hardest thing is to work out where such an innings sits, especially in a format of the game where caution is thrown to the wind. There is no doubt it was impressive, destructive, powerful and a sight to behold, but as great innings go in the context of affecting a game or a series, it fails to register. But then again the modern followers of the game who are much younger than this writer may well disagree.
(Please note the memorable innings mentioned were all ones that the writer was fortunate to witness on television or live. There are undoubtedly many others he has not witnessed).
There are many in Australian football who are quick on the draw to gun down Socceroos boss Holger Osciek. His tactics were wrong, he picked the wrong team, he played the wrong formation, he played so-and-so out of position. Osciek like many coaches is bound to make mistakes, but we must never forget what he has to work with. Guus Hiddink was lucky that when he took over as Coach of the Socceroos he had a golden generation of players to choose from, who were all at or close to the peak of their game. Fifteen of the squad were playing regularly for their clubs in the top leagues in Europe while the support players apart from Mark Milligan, Archie Thompson and Michael Beauchamp, were all playing for second tier sides in Europe. These same players were on the wane when Pim Verbeek took over, and many have underplayed his achievement in having the team qualify for the World Cup finals without losing a game. Sadly he is remembered for saying that the A League was not of a suitable standard from which to pick international players, and Australia’s defeat against Germany. People are quick to forget that Germany also knocked four goals past England and Argentina.
Osciek, has not been blessed with such an array of talent, and has not had the benefit of a similar crop of talented players coming through at top clubs in the top leagues in the world when he needs them. He has also had to suffer the fact that many in Australia believed once the qualifying path was through Asia the country had a right to attend every World Cup. That is why the World Cup is such a big event, not just any country qualifies, you have to earn that right.
There is already a push for Australia to appoint a coach from within and it would appear, and one East Coast journalist picked up on this at the weekend, that Ange Postecoglou has certain media outlets already in his corner lobbying for him.
Many will forget that when Frank Farina was appointed Socceroos coach in 1998, Postecoglou was on the short list along with Eddie Krncevic and Dave Mitchell. He withdrew from the race saying that he lacked the relevant experience, despite his success with South Melbourne in the old NSL.
He has shown that he has matured as a coach since then but has continued to be successful as shown by his success in no time at Brisbane Roar and the ability to win them back to back Championships. What he has achieved at Melbourne Victory this season is also nothing short of remarkable. Last year they were a club in turmoil, now they are playing in the finals and it would be a brave man to bet against them.
His achievements this season have not attracted the attention that they warranted as up in Sydney, Tony Popovic has returned from an assistant role at Crystal Palace to take on his first senior coaching job at Western Sydney Wanderers and has taken the League Premiership at the first time of asking with a squad assembled in three months. A truly amazing achievement, and one that now has some people saying that Popovic is a challenger for the national job. He may not have key media outlets on his side as was pointed out at the weekend, but he is employed by the FFA who will ultimately make the decision.
There are however several questions that need to be asked before such an appointment. The first is would both give up the day to day running of a club side, with whom they have day to day contact and can influence their style of play and replace that for the sporadic coming together of players from many different clubs and styles of play for a fortnight, and try and mould them into the side they want? It is no easy task, and that is why some of the great club managers have shied away from International positions.
Popovic and Postecoglou are beacons when it comes to coaching the A League and would Australia not be best served to have them remain where they are at the moment and work towards easing them into a national role, having them involved with the national set up whenever possible. Graham Arnold has shown how much being around Hiddink and Verbeek has assisted in his development as a coach. At this point in time the last thing Australia needs to do is promote either of these talented coaches too early. Australia will no doubt one day again be coached by an Australian, but the timing must be right for the coach and the national team for it to be a success. Let us not be too quick to push for such a move, and should we fail to qualify for Brazil let us not take such an option for financial reasons. Let us make an Australian coach of the national team because the time is right, the coach is ready, and he is the best man for the job.
Are the Socceroos becoming a one man team? How strong is their reliance on Tim Cahill to pull them out of games? How long can he keep doing this?
There is no doubt that Australia’s performance against Oman yesterday was well below what many expected. Yet was the performance a total surprise? Australia may have players playing in overseas leagues but how many of them are actually playing week-in-week-out in the top leagues of the world? Our lowest number in 15 years, is the answer. So a performance like the one we witnessed is to be expected. Leagues in Korea and the UAE are not a match on those in Germany, Holland, France or England, even if they are better than the A League.
Australia is currently relying on the likes of Mark Schwarzer to keep the goals out at the age of 40, and he is still playing at the top, and Tim Cahill to score them. The latter is on the way down in terms of his career, having to move to America because his ankle injury could not sustain the rigours of so many matches in the EPL. In between they look to a Captain in defence in Lucas Neill who has sadly found that age has caught up with him and Marco Bresciano in midfield is supposed to still supply the inspiration, yet he too finds himself coming to the end of his career plying his trade in the Qatari league.
Based on these facts, and that around this crumbling spine you have a number of players only playing sporadically for their clubs in Europe is it really any wonder that the team played so poorly?
We heard various excuses trotted out by the commentary team, who spend so much time pumping up Australian football, that even they found it hard to actually find a positive in such a performance. It was incredible to hear ‘the heat and humidity of Sydney’ used as a reason for their lacklustre display. The players had been in Sydney for a week!
Apart from maybe reducing the number of media commitments they attended and using that time to get them to practice together, Australia should take a good hard look at the development that has taken place in the past eight to ten years, especially at our showpiece development establishment the AIS. Quite simply the development of talent and preparing them to compete at the top level has fallen well short of the standards set when the likes of the aforementioned players were coming through, along with Kewell, Viduka, Grella, Popovic, Moore, and the list could go on.
What is also interesting is to look at is how this ‘Golden Age of Australian football’ developed. Apart from starting at the AIS and having a good grounding very few started their overseas careers with top flight clubs, even if they managed to end up at them. Tim Cahill started at outside-the-Premier League Millwall, before signing for Everton. Lucas Neill also started at Millwall before moving to Blackburn Rovers. Mark Schwarzer started at Dynamo Dresden and Kaiserslautern in Germany before moving to Bradford City and then breaking into the Premier League. These are just a few examples of players happy to play in a lower league, prove their worth and work their way up. Ask any of them and they will tell you that the game-time they played at these clubs helped prepare them for life at the top level. Signing for a big club as a youngster often means very little senior football being played, and the more you play the more you learn and the better you become. Australia has a number of players signing for top clubs but how many of them have broken through into the first team? How many of them move on within a year? Some are loaned out and as their clubs realise gain valuable experience at a lower league club, those not loaned out and not in the first team squad rarely make the breakthrough. So does a young player signing for a big name club really help the national team?
Holger Osciek came into the role as head coach at an extremely unenviable time, with the national team going through a transitional period, some players simply are not ready for international football at this point in time, they have not played enough, learned enough or matured enough as players, this takes time. If he manages to get Australia to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next year ask yourselves how many of these players are honestly ready to match it with the greatest players in the world? If Australia qualifies, and everyone connected with football hopes they do, this current crop of players are going to have to grow up very fast as quite simply they are a long way off the pace at the moment. This is not Holger Osciek’s fault, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but it is the fault of those charged with developing players at the highest level in Australia over the past eight to ten years. Hopefully is being looked at now and has been improved for the next crop of players coming through. Hopefully lessons have been learned.
Pressure is mounting for this years European under 21 football tournament in Israel to be moved.
Football Beyond Borders held a meeting in London recently and have urged such action or that key nations boycott the event. England are due to play Israel on June 11 at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium.
It is here according to Football Beyond Borders that “there is a supporters group who embody a political voice in Israeli society which is shaped by its Jewish fanaticism, aversion to Muslims and its penchant to treat arabs and other ethnic minorities within the country as inferior. There is clearly a widespread belief that Israel should not be allowed to host this tournament, considering its shocking human rights record and its increasingly systematic discrimination of Palestinians.”
A number of big name players have supported the push to boycott including Fredric Kanoute, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Arsenal’s Abou Diaby have signed a petition for the tournament to be boycotted. A full blown demonstration is planned for May 24th in London, and despite assurances from UEFA President Michel Platini that the tournament will go ahead it is believed that he has secretly asked the English FA to be on standby to host the event should things escalate.
Sport can heal so many hurts it can even see nations with long histories of hostilities come together and unite for 90 minutes or as long as a game lasts and unite in the joy of the spectacle. One can understand what the games governing bodies are thinking when they award tournaments to nations such as Israel, but should such nations receive the benefit of a major sporting event such as this when they have such poor human rights records? The same question was raised leading into the European Championships with one of the joint hosts, the Ukraine. Why do the game’s administrators continually select host countries that will create a public backlash and outcry, as well as the threat of boycotts?
Football in Israel has had a chequered history, in the main suffering because of the politics of the region. It competed in the Asian Football Confederation from 1954-1974. Then several Muslim states refused to compete against Israel. This political situation culminated in Israel winning the 1958 World Cup qualifying stage for Asia and Africa without playing a single game. FIFA then scheduled a playoff between Israel and Wales to make sure that the team did not qualify for the finals without playing at least one game; they lost to Wales.
In 1974, Israel was expelled from AFC. The country then played the majority of their matches against European teams, and competed in the European stage of qualification for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. For the next two tournaments, they entered Oceana’s qualification stage.
In 1994, Israel received full UEFA membership, 20 years after they had left Asia. In Europe, they remain a relatively minor nation in football terms. There are still many who feel that they have no place in Europe and the boycotting of the tournament later this year could well see them out in the cold again.
Interestingly, the presence of the Israeli Football Association in UEFA was a precedent cited by Australia to strengthen its request to transfer from the Oceania Football Confederation to the Asian Football Confederation. One has to ask if Israel were to be expelled how secure would Australia’s position in Asia remain?
Fans of Southern Hemisphere rugby often scoff at their Northern hemisphere counterparts and the lack of running rugby played. The playing conditions have a great deal to do with it on many occasions. The six nations games at the weekend were certainly not a great deal to write about. Just three tries scored and penalty goal attempts that went off the graph, however it will now all come down to the final game and there is plenty at stake.
England travel to the Millenium stadium in Wales in search of their second title in three years and their first Grand Slam since 2003 – the same year they won the World Cup – following their 18-11 victory over Italy.
A seven point victory could see the title decided on who has scored the most tries in the competition. Wales currently lead on that count 7-5. While if Wales win by a smaller margin England will be crowned Champions but will miss out on the clean sweep, just as they did two years ago in the final game in Dublin.
Added to the intrigue this time around is the fact that this is the last chance for players to stake a claim to be in Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions squad heading to Australia.
Opposing flankers Sam Warburton of Wales and England’s Chris Robshaw are front runners to lead the Lions so their on park decisions could determine who gets the nod from Gatland.
England are not playing good rugby at the moment something that former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has been quoted as saying could work in their favour . “You have to say England have not been at their best but in a funny sort of way going into Cardiff next week its not the worst thing that could happen. If they had run many, many tries the build up would have been very different.”
Rest assured Wales will relish the chance to ruin England’s party. Having been well beaten by Ireland in the opening game they have done well to find themselves in this position. They ground out victory against Scotland 28-18 in a match that featured a world record 18 penalty shots at goal and another record of 13 being successful. An eight point win would see them retain the title they won last year.
Can St George slay the dragon one more time? It will undoubtedly be a game to remember.
The last few days have seen a change in fortunes for several top named footballers in England.
First of all there was the news that Michael “I won’t drop down the divisions” Owen is to be released by Stoke City. The former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle, and Manchester United striker has scored only one goal this season and has failed to start a Premier League game since signing a one-year pay-as-you-play deal.
Owen, who burst on the scene as a teenage at the 1998 World Cup has repeatedly said he will not drop down to the lower divisions in English football, so many believe the curtain has come down on his career, unless he can secure a deal in the Middle East or America. Even then it would be a risk to the club signing him as in 2010 he pulled up with a hamstring injury after scoring for Manchester United against Aston Villa in the League Cup and then was out for the rest of the season In truth he has never been the same player since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament at the 2006 World Cup.
Another England player who looks set to face a sever blow to his income is Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney. Word out of the UK is that Rooney currently earning an unbelievable GBP230,000 a week, will be asked to take a pay cut as he is not going to be an automatic choice in Manchester United’s big games. Rooney has slipped down teh pecking order with the emergence of Robin van Persie, Japanese player Shinji Kagawa – who became the first player to net a hat-trick in the Premier League – and Danny Welbeck.
This could well be another shrewd stance by Ferguson, who may believe Rooney’s best years are behind him. Faced with a drop in salary Rooney may well seek a transfer prior to his contract expiring in 2015, which would mean Manchester United could demand a substantial price for the still lively 27 year old. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. If Rooney is as dedicated to the United cause as he professes, he may take the cut on the chin. If he wants regular first team football or a similar salary he may well move on.
However one player who looks set to benefit from consistently performing well is Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez. He has just been granted a pay rise that sees his salary go past GBP120,000 per week. Suarez signed new terms with Liverpool last Summer after rejecting moves to Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, that saw his salary more than double to GBP80,000 per week. His new contract like most players at Liverpool was incentive based, and his 28 goals in all competitions this season has seen him trigger a pay rise. Liverpool’s owners Fenway Sports wanted a bonus oriented pay structure on all new contracts following the large sums paid out for under-performing players in the past. The pay rises kick in as soon as a target is reached. So love him or hate him Suarez has delivered on the park and has been rewarded for his efforts.
However, seriously is any sportsman really worth that sort of money per week?
The British and Irish Lions Tour of Australia is just around the corner and the fact that tickets sold out in 15 minutes proves what a great sporting event the Lions Tours have become. With the team only heading to Australia every 12 years the series is one that no player or fan wants to miss.
Former All Black Justin Marshall suggested a few years ago that the Southern Hemisphere nations should form a composite side every four years in between the Lions Tours and take on the Northern rugby playing nations, and idea that probably had a greater appeal to the fans than it did the administrators. It certainly would be far more interesting than some of the games in the current European Tours. In the current rugby climate one has to wonder how many Australian players would force their way into such a team, which is bound to be dominated by All Blacks and Springboks.
The idea of a team from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales going on tour as one also did not have appeal when it was first raised, but luckily for those of us around today cricketers Alfred Shaw and Arthur Shrewsbury thought otherwise. As it was these two men who conceived the idea of a tour to Australia along with England Cricket Captain A.E. Stoddart. Little did they know the impact they would have on the game. (Shaw and Shrewsbury opened a sports business under this very name manufacturing cricket balls and bats. The business was later bought by Grays of Cambridge, who also own Gray Nicholls, so their influence on sport was immense).
The Tour took place in 1888 without the backing of the Rugby Football Union, and all of the players were not to be paid so that they maintained their amateur status. Was it representative of all of the ‘Home nations?’ As it happens it was, W.H. Thomas become the first Welshman to Tour Australia and New Zealand, while Angus Stuart although he played for Cardiff was in fact from Scotland; the latter stayed on in New Zealand and played for their national team in 1893. Arthur Paul from Lancashire wa sin fact the only Irish born player in the squad and was the principal goal kicker. He wrote his name into the cricket record books when with Archie Maclaren he established the then English batting record of 424 in a first class innings against Somerset. He also played in goal for Blackburn Rovers!
Also on that first tour A.P. Penketh became the only man from the Isle of Man to ever tour with a British team for Rugby Union. Also of far greater consequence J.T. Haslam was credited with inventing the dummy pass.
The team played 16 games in Australia, where they won 14 lost none and drew two. In New Zealand they played 19 won 13 lost two and drew four. In addition to these games they played 18 exhibition games in Victoria which were played under Australian Rules, something that did not go down too well. Here they won six drew one and lost 11. No Test Matches were played and with only twenty two players on the trip the results are remarkable. Even more remarkable is the fact that Harry Eagles, a forward, played in every single Tour match; an achievement that no other touring player has ever matched.
The Rugby fraternity owe a great deal to these pioneers and it is worth remembering their feats as the Lions prepare to head down under.
What with match fixing allegations in cricket, and drug taking in cycling as well as other sports one wonders how many games are ‘clean’ and the results genuine in today’s sporting world. With betting organisations having taken over from cigarette companies in the seventies as the major sponsor of so many events and teams is it any wonder that some athletes have given into temptation? When one considers how much many of them earn, to most of us it is. However as one money specialist said recently some people genuinely believe that they will never have enough and have a very real fear of losing everything. Others are simply greedy.
What is terrifying is the news released yesterday in relation to football. A European police intelligence agency revealed that a 19-month investigation had uncovered widespread occurrences of match-fixing, with nearly 700 games globally deemed ‘suspicious.’ Mind you when one considers how many games of this global sport are played each year that is still not that high a proportion, but one game is too many.
The list of matches deemed ‘suspicious,’ is staggering and is believed to include about 380 games in Europe, covering World Cup and European championship qualifiers, as well as Champions League games, including one match played in England.
Officials of Europol, – an agency that works with countries throughout Europe, – have given details of their findings which will undoubtedly rock fans of the world game: The report says that USD$11 million in profits and nearly USD$3 million in bribes were discovered during the investigation. Which according to Director of Europol Rob Wainwright, uncovered “match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before.”
Once again, as with cricket an Asian based organized crime syndicate based is believed to be the main source of the match fixing activity. A blight that Europol believes stretches across at least 15 countries. They have found that in some cases individual bribes were paid in sums upward of USD$136,000. Heavy betting would then take place on the games that had been ‘fixed.’ Matches in Africa, Asia and South and Central America have been identified as suspicious, but it is the European element of the investigation which has caused the most shockwaves.
“This is a sad day for European football,” Wainwright is quoted as saying at a news conference in the Netherlands, “It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results, which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.”
Europol and Interpol officials announced that an international arrest warrant had been issued for the ringleader of the Asian syndicate enabling them to extradite him to Europe to face fraud and bribery charges. Europol did not publicly identify the ringleader, and rumours have already started circulating as to the identity of the ringleader, who is believed to be Singapore-based.
In addition to this news officials said on Monday that roughly 425 people were under suspicion because of the investigation, and that 50 people have already been arrested. The scope of the investigation covered games from 2008 to 2011.
There is no doubt that Football could be facing some heartache in the coming months similar to that suffered by cricket. Is no sport safe?
“I don’t want to go to Chelsea” was a song from the eighties by Elvis Costello, but it may soon be an anthem for professional footballers, as despite the money they may receive it is club where players appear to sink to a standard of behaviour that means they will be remembered more for their actions, than their football. Spoilt little boys are nearly always judged by their actions.
Chelsea’s charge sheet in recent years does not make good reading. In February 2011 Ashley Cole shoots and wounds a student on work experience at Chelsea’s training ground while he was “larking about” with an air rifle. In September 2012 John Terry is banned for four matches by the FA and fined £220,000 after he was found guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand. An incident for which Terry was cleared at Westminster magistrates court. In October 2012 Chelsea players accuse referee Mark Clattenburg of using “inappropriate language” towards John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata. Later Chelsea are forced to admit “regret” at their handling of the case when the referee is cleared. InDecember 2012 the FA ban Mikel for three games and fine him £60,000 after he admits using threatening words in the referee’s room after the game with Manchester United.
Now in January 2013 we have Eden Hazard kicking a ball boy, for which he received quite rightly a red card. It matters not as many apologists for Hazard state, that the ball boy Charlie Morgan is the son of Swansea City director Martin Morgan himself worth GBP42million and may have been blatantly guilty of gamesmanship in holding onto the ball, and possibly milking the extent of his pain. The clear and unarguable fact is a professional footballer should not be kicking a ball boy!
Hazard will be fined, but what damage will that do to his life and how much will it hurt him personally? Any fine should be given to a young team for their development and maybe Hazard should be forced to be a ball boy for their games, to learn some humility.
There can be no possible excuse for his actions, and it is time that footballers learned their place in society. Yes they are human beings, yes they may lose their tempers, they may get provoked, but the reason they earn as much as they do is not just because they are talented entertainers, it is because whether they like it or not, they are heroes to many, and with that heroic status comes a responsibility. A responsibility to behave off the pitch and often on it as well, in a way that is inspiring to many young children. Whether you like it or not, whether you are comfortable with it or not, when you signed up to be a professional footballer or play any sport professionally, you are in a privileged position, being to be paid to do a job that is the envy of many, a job which sees you feted and adored, you also signed up to be a role model with a responsibility to behave in a sensible and mature way.
Ball boys have been a part of many sports for more years than most of us can remember, and many end up fulfilling their dream and one day running out onto the pitch or the court, emulating those heroes that they once served. Former World number one tennis player Ivan Lendl, now coach of Andy Murray was himself once a ball boy at a national tennis tournament in Ostrava in 1969. In the same year Kenny Stroud was a ball boy at the League Cup Final when Swindon Town defeated Arsenal 3-1, two years later he was signed by Swindon and in 1977 was a finalist in the Goal of the season in England.
Often ball boys – who rarely receive any financial reward for their time – are the players of the future, and if the players of today fail to respect their contribution then the sport is heading down a vary dark path.
Eden Hazard should be severely punished for his actions. Ball boys, like referees should never be subjected to such aggressive behaviour and any player who carries out such an act, irrespective of their status and salary, should be severely censored and punished.
At the same time Chelsea Football Club needs to have a long hard look at itself and the behaviour of players honoured to wear their club shirt. This is a club with a proud history, and despite the success the club has had, most true fans and former players will not want to see the club tarnished by such actions. Just as a team is only as good as its last game, so too is a club’s reputation. It is time for Chelsea to clean up its act, and they can start by giving Hazard the severest of punishments. Set the tone now for the future, and let us see if the Manager really is the gaffer!