A controversial equaliser by Ollie Norburn caused uproar at the weekend. But was it all that “controversial”?
Picture the scene. You are one nil down in a game that you just have to win. 5 points separate you from the drop zone. An opposing player goes down and treatment is required. On the re-start, you sportingly kick the ball back to the other team, but end up lobbing the goalkeeper. Or so you would have people believe.
Don’t get me wrong, at the end of the day, Guiseley AFC are staring down the barrel of relegation and a gaining a point could make all the difference. But at the same token, Braintree Town lost out on two points which would have taken them into a playoff place. I have watched the footage of the game several times now. In my opinion, Norburn may not have tried to “deliberately” score a goal, but it doesn’t matter. It is clear that he has seen where Tom King, the Town goalkeeper was. He hasn’t got anywhere near to him when giving the ball back.
Anyone who has played the game, at any level, knows what a simple pass would have sufficed. Norburn has used the same technique as a certain David Beckham, when scoring that infamous lob against Wimbledon. Leaning back and striking across the ball, it was goal bound from the moment his boot made contact with it.
What followed was somewhat of a farce. Stewards were drafted in to keep the peace between the two opposing benches and chaos ensued. The referee was accosted as was the linesman. Players remonstrated with each other. The end result? The restart of the game and play continuing as normal. Guiseley gained a point in their bid for survival and Braintree lost two in their quest for promotion.
Once the goal had been given, the question of allowing The Iron to score from the restart had to be asked. Now Guiseley were quite within their rights to not acquiesce to this. Ask yourself, if your club were in their position, would you want to give away a goal and potentially lose three points? I suspect not. However, should the game be played in this spirit?
The line between sportsmanship and winning at all costs is becoming more blurred. Remember the time Paolo Di Canio had an empty net to score in but chose to catch the ball as the opposing goalkeeper was down seriously injured? This is the last time I remember an incident like this. Instead, we see more playacting in an effort to win games or gain an advantage. The game isn’t played in the spirit it is meant to. Maybe the modern game with all its inherent pressures, many of them financial, winning at all costs really is the only way to play.
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