By Pat Johnston
The 1976 movie, Network, won four Academy awards but what I remember best is a scene where a distraught character (Peter Finch), loses his sense of propriety and publicly declares it on Network TV. The climatic moment is when he encourages, no, he actually demands his viewing audience to stick their head out the window and declare, passionately, “ I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
When Chelsea was awarded their second goal in the FA Cup semi final, my TV screen would have wilted had it the capacity to understand verbal abuse. Are you as fed up as me my wonderful readers?
What had set the wheels of angst in motion happened long ago in game after game, blown call after blown call. But when Ashley Young was awarded a most dubious penalty in an earlier match on the other side of England from Wembley, I knew I teetered on the brink. The only thing missing from his performance was a pool. Yet there was the match official, ten yards away and looking straight at the incident, blowing his whistle and pointing to the spot.
But back to the Chelsea match and my plunge into ballistic psychosis: Beneficiaries of several missed calls in the previous weeks, the Blues 5-1 dressing down of Spurs was a game that left me furious with the naysayers of replay and those who continue to stick their heads in the sand.
I can guarantee this; anybody who says the second Chelsea goal was the proper call bleeds royal blue and has a Chelsea banner on their wall and a scarf around their neck.
But let’s move on. Bad calls happen and it is just part of the game, right? Well can someone please explain to me why Peter Cech was allowed to finish the game after his mistimed challenge on Emmanuel Adebayor left the Spurs front man in a heap in the Chelsea area? Yes, Gareth Bale was diligent and ran the length of the pitch to pick up the scraps in the aftermath of Cech’s demolition of Adebayor. Advantage Spurs, goal should count, rightly so.
But why is Cech not shown red? Just five days earlier I saw with my own two eyes how a Liverpool keeper was shown red for the EXACT same challenge and not a soul argued the call. So does the fact that Bale ran his ass off allow Cech to commit crimes and not be punished? I have seen many a player issued a card after the fact when the advantage rule had been applied. Such inconsistency is an embarrassment to the FA.
Would anyone say the result would have been the same had Cech been rightly dismissed? To take this stance would make you seem insane.
Yet I am the one who will be seen as a madman for pleading with anybody who will listen to do something, anything to assist the match officials. My first article for 365 several years ago was a plea for instant replay. I am not new to this scene.
Showing my age by bringing up old movies aside, I know my words will fall like seeds on stone. But my dear reader remember this, my seeds will be endless. As long as I live I will watch soccer. And as long as I watch soccer, I will be a voice of sense and reason to insist that instead of “calls evening out” (as all pragmatic soccer purists say the calls eventually do), that calls should be fair. Join me in my madness, rise above the apathy and insist that we as a soccer audience are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!
Have Your Say….Are you mad as hell? What do you think should be done about it. Give your two cents worth below.
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