We Absolutely Love It When...

They might not be to the taste of the self-appointed moral guardians of the game, but for those of us who live on planet earth, here are some things that brighten up even the most ordinary of football matches...

Last Updated: 26/01/06 at 14:26

They might not be to the taste of the self-appointed moral guardians of the game, but for those of us who live on planet earth, here are some things that brighten up even the most ordinary of football matches...

By Alan Tyers

A Player Gives It Some Large To The Opposing Fans
Sympathy for the Neville - hell must have frozen over.

This issue divides the football world rather neatly. On the one hand, people who make their living administering the game, policing the game, refereeing the game or pontificating about the game in the papers; on the other, anyone who actually supports a football team.

He may have an upper lip like a man who came bottom in a two-man Dirty Sanchez contest, he may be so laughable that even Jaap Stam had a nickname for him, but Gary 'Busy C***' Neville is, for this week at least, on the side of the angels. You stick it to them, Gary.

A Key Opposing Player Is Sent Off
"And once again, the red mist has descended on Roy Keane".

Any opposing player getting his marching orders is always, always enjoyable, particularly if he is a psychotic midfield hardman. Debutants seem to get sent off quite a lot, perhaps because they are desperate to impress or are short of full match practice. And, with due respect to on-field leaders like Roy Keane or Pat Vieira, one of football's best innovations in recent years has been the new phenomenon of managers being sent to the stand.

Graeme Souness has always been the sort of man who thinks that little bit bigger. Anyone who could look at a defence with Titus Bramble in it and say to himself, "that lad's got talent, but he needs an experienced, Steady Eddie-type alongside him - someone like Jean-Alain Boumsong," is clearly not afraid to push the envelope a little.

And so it was, one glorious August day in 1986. Souness, the midfield hardman (tick), making his debut (tick, tick) for Rangers against Hibs at Easter Road as PLAYER MANAGER (tick, tick, tick, BOOM!), clatters into George McCluskey, sparking a huge 21-man brawl (Hibs keeper Alan Rough doesn't live up to his name and steers clear). Souey is sent off, in what he describes as "the worst moment of his career". And yet there was so much more to come, eh Geordies/Liverpool fans?

If you can ever catch the video of it - it's often on those '100 Great Sporting Blah Blah' shows - the delirious reaction of the Hibs supporters as Souey trudges off is nothing short of life-affirming.

A Demonstration Of The Ancient Art Of Mime
See how he conveys his intentions without recourse to mere speech!

One of continental football's greatest gifts to our domestic game, even the most everyday English trundler is now starting to master this important skill. The most basic is the 'Mystic Meg', where a player, falsely accused of a foul, demonstrates that he made contact with the large round object.

Once that's under the belt, it's on to 'The Del Boy', whose hunched shoulders and dipping, curling hand movements indicate that a player has dived. More advanced - and you really do need to have long hair and a swarthier complexion for this - is the 'Tai Cheat', where the middle finger and thumb of both hands are clasped together in front of the chest and shaken pleadingly in the manner of one channelling the life force, begging for the ref to reverse a decision.

Best, and most difficult of all, is the 'I Have In My Hand A Parking Ticket', where a player shakes an imaginary card at the referee. Should only be attempted by the most accomplished, Italian skulduggerist.

An Injury To The Groinal Area
Traditionally referred to as "amidships" or "the unmentionables" by commentators.

More commonly known as "being hit in the nuts by a football". Short of sitting through a triple bill of Barbara Streisand movies, probably the single most painful thing that can happen to an adult male. Yet everyone always laughs a bit. Why is that? Probably to stop themselves from crying in sympathy.

Terrible Facilities At Lower-League Club
"Let's see how the big boys handle the Slag Moor surface and oppressive stench..."

Your Henrys and your Ronaldos may have the silky skills, but until they've had to shuffle a few dried-up dog turds out of the six-yard box before wrestling the net up in a howling gale, can they really be called the complete footballer? Well, they probably still can. But how-the-other-half-lives is all part of our game's glorious tapestry.

This writer once saw a cup game at lower-league South Eastern team where a visiting higher-division player was "struck amidships" by a piledriver. All thoughts of cup glory went from the lad's mind and it was soon clear that all he wanted was a) his mummy and b) the hell off that pitch. The trainer called for the stretcher. The club officials on the sidelines called for the stretcher. It seemed to be... not there. A YTS lad was sent down the tunnel to see if it was around. He came back empty-handed.

The gesticulation from the on-pitch trainer grew more frantic. The embarrassment on the sidelines grew more acute.

It was soon clear that there was no stretcher. Improvisation was called for. Eventually, the victim - a highly-paid, professional athlete, lest us forget - was wheeled off the pitch on one of those sweet trolleys that they have in the dining rooms of the cheaper seaside hotels. It would have fitted a choice of apple pie, bread-and-butter pudding or fruit salad quite nicely. A 12-stone-man, albeit one doubled up in agony? Not so much.

His groans when they got him off the grass and onto the cobbled bit by the dugout will remain with everyone in that ground until their dying day.

Bubbling Under
A hated former player misses a penalty... the goalie comes up for last-minute corner... the goalie desperately races back when opponents clear the ball... a dog gets on the pitch... a lady with her bazonkas out gets on the pitch... the referee trips over... a hideously unlucky own goal... Your suggestions to theeditor@football365.com

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