As Callum McManaman's tackle crunched into Massadio Haidara's leg, you could almost hear the rustle of panties being pulled into a wad as football's moralists prepared to emotionally masturbate themselves into a foam of righteous indignation once again.
And here they come, taking to airwaves to tell us how they're disgusted by such a tackle - so disgusted they've watched it ten times in slow motion to confirm just how bad it really was. In these circumstances, there's a lexicon of clichés that must be deployed. It's not just a bad tackle, it's a 'horror tackle', 'it gets worse every time you see it', 'he's not that sort of player' and, funniest of all, 'we've got to stamp this out of the game'.
Sometimes it seems as though these outraged critics are like dogs that sleep with one eye open, forever ready to leap up and start barking as soon as they see the orange plastic boat being brought out onto the pitch by six overweight men.
They have names on their lips such as Shawcross, Ramsey, Eduardo and many more. They're still fighting for them. They see themselves as moral warriors, like a social worker working for abused footballers, often deploying this hoary old stinker:
"If he did that in the street he'd be in jail for six months."
It's time we took this notion outside and give it a proper kicking.
It is the response of someone who apparently doesn't understand the difference between playing competitive sport and life on the streets.
Playing an organised game gives the participants a licence to behave in a way which would be inappropriate and possibly illegal in other walks of life. You'd get arrested if you kicked a ball at someone in the street, let alone for an over-the-top tackle. You'd probably get arrested if you blew a whistle repeatedly on the streets. People would call the cops if you started leaping around using a shop doorway as a goal dressed in football boots and shorts. Similarly, if you and 40,000 friends gather in your house for a party you can be expected to attract the attention of the authorities in a way you won't inside a football ground. This doesn't happen at a football game because...it's bloody football, isn't it?
What you do within your sporting context is largely irrelevant to how you might behave in normal life. This is why rugby players are not arrested for grabbing people around the legs on a pitch nor, more controversially, for gouging eyes and pulling a chap's scrotum, all of which are frowned upon at a local meeting of the Salvation Army.
It's also a totally bogus comparison. Most of these so-called assaults in football are accidental and if you did accidentally injure someone in the streets you probably wouldn't get prosecuted. Drivers have killed people and not gone to jail. Friday night brawlers often don't end up behind bars other than when sobering up. Indeed, many critics of the justice system would tell you that you have to try quite hard to get six months in chokey these days.
But obviously you can't just do anything on a football pitch as a footballer. If he produces a gun from his sock and shoots someone, he should expect a red card and a three-match ban at the very least. You can't do that these days, Jeff. Use of a machete or indeed any kind of knife has also been outlawed, except in Scotland, of course. Some say the game has been sanitised by banning assault weapons but most think it's a good idea. However, hurting someone with your boot while playing football has, sadly for some it would seem, remained outside the jurisdiction of the civil or criminal law on the basis that if men play a physical sport, occasionally someone is going to get properly hurt. Thems is the breaks. Dry your tears and put your trousers back on.
There are very few tackles like McManaman's committed at the highest level. There are very few acts of pre-meditated violence on a football pitch and the days of 'doing' someone are long gone.
The over-the-top violent tackle is a small percentage of all tackles performed and it is almost always a rash challenge committed by someone who is wound up, over-excited, over-committed or just a bit rubbish. That's what we saw on Sunday at Wigan. It's unfortunate but we all mess things up and do things wrong from time to time. The player will no doubt be disciplined and the less spittle flecked in Football Land will move on.
Yet to hear those who want such tackles to be lumped in with common assault on your local high street, you'd think this was an epidemic of plague proportions and a symbol not just of the game's moral degeneracy but of society's too.
If you play a physical game, someone is going to get hurt. That's all there is to it. Those who pretend they're shocked and disgusted and those who start making spurious comparisons to life on the streets are given a voice in the media because angry, pompous people are thought to be more entertaining than rational, sane voices but that doesn't mean we should listen.
You can follow Johnny on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JohnnyTheNic
Sorry John. You are talking complete bollocks here.- werwolves