Be a sport, make it legal and clear the confusion

Arguments: Wednesday players make their case against Yeovil
Arguments: Wednesday players make their case against Yeovil
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HOW many times do we have to get to this point on a football pitch?

Where a chance to express sportsmanship suddenly becomes an exercise in Darwinian survival of the football fittest.

Or was it just a dozy striker who hadn’t read the script?

Yeovil decided to do the decent thing after the referee stops play for one of their players to get treatment during the game against the Owls.

Arms aloft and pointing fingers from players on both sides show everyone what’s going to happen - the ball is to be played back to Wednesday keeper Richard O’Donnell.

Apart from the kid up front - and metaphorically at the back of the class, Kieran Agard - everyone knows what’s happening. Agard can’t believe his luck and runs on to the ball, spooking Rob Jones and Richard O’Donnell who clatter into each other in the confusion and we’ve got a You’ve Been Framed Clip.

Sheffield United and Arsenal agreed to replay a cup-tie a few years ago when a similar incident occurred. Arsenal won the replay of course but only after huffing and puffing and moralising from all.

We can end the confusion at a stroke.

Enshrine in the laws of the game that when a team puts the ball out or the referee stops play for a player to get treatment the ball has to be played to the side who either had the ball when play was stopped or who put it out of play to stop the game.

Simples.

Hands up who didn’t feel sorry for Fernando Torres on Sunday?

His impossible miss got as big a cheer as any of the goals in Chelsea’s 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford. Even the most bitter of antis must have felt a twinge of sympathy.

No? I did.

A fully confident Torres - or any park player or even your dad with four pints in him after the family barbecue - would have stroked that in, no danger, normally.

But a man in search of his form and fitness after a failed £50 million move has a lot on his mind.

Look at the replays and you’ll notice he never took his eye off the ball after he brilliantly sidestepped Manchester United keeper De Gea. So determined was he that wouldn’t scuff the ball if it bobbled that he never looked up to see where the goal was.

Normally you’d expect him to check with a glance, the stride before he played the ball.

That’s a man desperately short on confidence who can’t do right for doing wrong.

When he had no time to think for his goal he was superb. When he did have time the doubt demons had him.

Some say Torres has a dodgy knee that won’t heal and he’ll never get his pace back. But I reckon he’ll come good. Bet he’s got ten goals by Christmas.

Wander through the football fantasy land that is cyber space looking at some of the goals, fights and fenced-in fans from the 70s and 80s and you sometimes wonder if it’s the same game.

Tackles that, after years of conditioning away the roughly-hewn art form, make you physically wince.

How did limbs not get broken every week? How did players not die of head injuries?

It’s easy to get sentimental about hard men and the ‘characters’ of the past. But crunching tackles were legalised kicking in most cases and like open-air urinals and cinder terracing, the game is better off with out them.