Often Partisan

Gamesmanship and Sportsmanship

It took a penalty shootout to confirm Birmingham City’s passage through to the third round of the Capital One Cup as their second round tie with Yeovil Town ended in controversial circumstances.

Yeovil equalised just before the final whistle to make the scores 2-2 from a throw-in whilst the Birmingham City players expected the ball to be returned to them after putting the ball out of play to allow a player to be treated for injury.

As I wasn’t at Huish Park last night I’m reliant on accounts from people who were and from what I’ve heard since – thus I can’t really comment on that precise incident as I didn’t see it with my own eyes. However, I have been thinking about the whole ideal of sportsmanship and of when it’s expected that the ball be returned to the opposition side from a set piece such as a throw-in.

The argument from Gary Johnson was that his team had suffered of late from teams timewasting, putting the ball out of play to allow treatment of “injuries” and that he had told his team to play on but he had expected Blues to play on also – ie he didn’t want Yeovil to give the ball back but he also didn’t expect them to score with Blues just watching. He went on to confirm he apologised to Lee Clark at half time in extra time and thus Yeovil allowed Lee Novak to walk the ball in the net to equalise.

I’m reminded that the first home game of the season (which I also wasn’t in attendance for unfortunately) against Watford Blues were in a similar situation where Watford were timewasting and that Blues indeed also tried to play on, although unlike Yeovil they failed to score and equalise. Had they have done that there could have been more antagonism as unlike the game with Yeovil there was no possibility of extra time to play and it could have easily changed the result to a draw and thus caused much controversy.

I can understand why teams might feel that there is an element of “gamesmanship”, whereby a team is wasting time by treating a non-existent injury – particularly when it happens in the dying moments of a game. I think one of the issues is that there are no hard and fast rules or agreements – it’s just accepted that the ball should be given back. I’ve listened to Tom Ross a lot on this in the past and  he’s always held that the ball should only ever be given back if one team puts out the ball for an opposing player to be treated; in other circumstances it should be “play on”. I think he’s got a point – if it’s accepted that if a team puts the ball out for their own player then they have to play on at the restart then it ends all problems but it allows for the sporting gesture of one team putting the ball out for the other.

Had Yeovil beaten Birmingham City last night there was a precedent to fix the situation anyway. In 1999 Arsenal controversially beat Sheffield United 2-1 in the FA Cup  in similar circumstances, with Kanu breaking down the left to allow Marc Overmars to score rather than returning the ball. Arsene Wenger decided that he’d rather not win through in that manner and he offered the then Sheffield United boss Steve Bruce a rematch at Highbury to decided the tie, which was accepted and the FA allowed to go ahead.

As it turns out it ended with Blues going through and Lee Novak opening his account for Blues – so maybe something good came out of it. Let’s hope it gives us some impetus to kick on for Saturday.

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62 Responses to “Gamesmanship and Sportsmanship”

  • DoctorD says:

    The Tom Ross rule sounds a decent idea.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    We need to put the sportsmanship/gentlemanly conduct back into the game. It’s been seriously lacking for the last decade or more.

    I also think that one way of solving the problem we had last night, is that everytime the ball is put out for an ‘injury’ or whatever, the ref should restart the game with a dropped-ball on the centre spot (or anywhere along the halfway line.. That way, no team has an immediate advantage.

  • Asif ashiq says:

    Not the first time johnson has treated opposing teams like that!!!! And i recall it was dan burns who was injured? Their player of the season. So he should know dans nature.

  • Chris says:

    There is another more recent example where UEFA banned a player for “violation of the principles of conduct.

  • mark says:

    sportsmanship is absolute Paramount……………………in any sport not just football

  • Chris says:

    Johnson did the same in 2004 vs Plymouth when his son scored but I think they weren’t losing at the time so he allowed an immediate reply via a walk in goal.
    I think he knows Burn’s nature and knows he wasn’t taking advantage and is using other players responsible for his poor desperate for a win decision.
    I do think the laws need changing or we all just drop this kicking out the ball scenario unless the opposition do it.

  • Chris says:

    The Watford scenario was down to Paul Robinson who held his hand up, it wasn’t a manager decision as it was last night, plus Lee said after the game that if we had scored he would have allowed a goal for Watford from the kick off.

  • skareggae72 says:

    Johnson’s apology looked weak,as at the end of it he added a ‘but’ & then accused us of wasting time and also faking injury,surely if we had been wasting time Burn would have stayed down for longer or claimed cramp,so his apology looked heartless at the time,hopefully he has now re-phrased it.

  • dave mann says:

    maybe ime being a little contreversual here but why the hell didnt doyle kick the ball out
    down there end off the pitch instead off kicking it out right out on the edge of our penalty
    area the muppet, call it what you like but you are not obliged to give the ball back, and in
    this day and age whos supprised at what they did, unsportsman like behavior but we
    won the penalty shoot out so we had the last laugh. liked the celebration at the end with
    adeyemi and clark running down to the blues fans, quality, youd thought we had won the
    dam thing again but they just wanted to rub there noses in it.KRO.

  • Tony says:

    Last thing we needed was extra time

    • StaffsBlue says:

      There were a few players who were dead on their feet. Chris Burke couldn’t raise a jog by the end, and Adeyemi was knackered thoughout extra time. I’m just glad he found the strength to score the vital penalty. Got to give the lad credit for that. I’m wondering also, how bad Dan Burn’s knock was. Will he be a doubt for Ipswich?

  • AuldBertie says:

    I wasn’t at the game last night but listening to Tom Ross it sounded as though there were two blatant fouls on Blues players in the lead up to the incident which, if the referee had given, none of this would have happened. Having seen the standard of refereeing in our two home league games so far I am not surprised as the standard seems to get worse year on year. As for the Watford game, their players were continually kicking the ball out of play so that their own players could get ‘treatment’ for their theatrical dives which plagued the game and were purely for time-wasting purposes. However I do agree with Tom Ross on this one: you should only be obliged to give the ball back if the opposition has kicked the ball out of play to allow treatment to one of your players.

    • glosblue says:

      Wasn’t at the match but it seems to me from the tv report that Doyle had the ball when the game was stopped and signalled to the ref whether he should kick the ball out before doing so.In that case the ref should have given a dropped ball on the halfway line or their player should simply have thrown it back to him. Alternatively Doyle could have kept hold of the ball in his own area until the injury was dealt with.

  • Tony says:

    Dave did you go last night?

  • dave mann says:

    i also agree with tom ross, you put the ball out for one off there players, you get it back,
    you put it out for one off your own players then the other team have the right to carry on
    because you might be wasting time like yeovil thought blues were, just a thought.KRO.

  • mark says:

    Hopefully this is the break blues needed to jet-set their run in the league……………very pls to see ambrose back in the team…….may even be in the starting lineup on Saturday….

  • dave mann says:

    missed my first game off the season last night Tony buti just caught the highlights on
    sky news, just glad to be through, is the draw tommorow lunch time? KRO.

  • mark says:

    imo blues were the better team on the night, should beaten yeovil of sight in the first half………..then maybe the controversial gamesmanship would not have mattered…………………

  • dave mann says:

    lee said he wants another home draw, but i bet pannu wants man. u. away££££££££££.
    call me selfish but id rather us go on in the cup than take the money from an away trip to
    a top prem side.KRO.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I want either Villa at home (for the entertainment,) or Man U away (for the money.)

      • steve says:

        don’t want Villa.At the moment they’d embarrass us.Not so bad being spanked by one of the big sides,but not Viler.

      • RichardM says:

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the days of the away team getting a share of the gate money are long gone? Is it different in the League Cup?

        • almajir says:

          You are incorrect mate. In the cups the away team gets a cut of the gate – hence why both teams have to agree the pricing.

          From a financial point of view a big away draw would do us more financial good as we’d get a slice of the gate without the attendant costs of staging a game.

  • tony says:

    I said against watford that you should only give the ball back if the opposition kicks it out for you and not to benefit themselves.So i thought both incidents were ok as from what i saw last night doyle kicked it out for our injury. With the amount of theatrical injuries you can see why players are reluctant to give the ball back especially in the so called premier league

  • Marky mark says:

    All you need is strong referees, the game should not be stopped unless the referee thinks its a serious injury and then restarted with a drop ball.

    Clubs should be instructed not to kick the ball out full stop, too many teams are using it to waste time and cheat, and yes I know this wasnt the case last night before people jump down my throat. Clubs should be informed if they do kick the ball out they lose it.

    On a positive note, good to see the changes resulted in far more chances being created and a good performance

  • Tony says:

    Whatever money comes in will go to Pannu I guess one way or another

  • Tony says:

    Just hope he sticks to this system Mark

    • Marky mark says:


      so do I, I havent got a problem with him changing it to counter act the other team, but I would much sooner win/lose 4-3 then try and win 1-0.

  • dave mann says:

    i agree tony but what made it look bad was that we just stood there expecting to get it back.
    we beat villa at home on that memmorable run to carling cup glory staffs so whos to say
    lightning cant strike twice or is that a missile going over my head?KRO.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    I would think that, with the change in formation and some personnel, it will give Lee Clark some food for thought. Spector and Adeyemi together in CM worked well… and will only get better as Spector gains full match fitness methinks.

    I would think too, that fatigue will come into the reckoning for Ipswich. The journey there, over 2 hours of battle, and the journey home must have an effect too. Bet all the players have had a lie-in this morning.

  • dave mann says:

    i cant believe he played 4-4-2, fantastic, bring it on saturday.KRO.

  • Tony says:

    Lol Dave the yanks have cruz ready to go be careful

  • TonyE says:

    Is it just me that finds it suspicious that Johnson only ordered his team to allow us to score after they had taken the lead. It would have carried far more weight had that happened before they scored putting us back in the lead. Wasn’t at this game so haven’t seen the incident, but I know I was very unhappy with Watfords antics in the home game, especially as it took the referee a long time to realise what was going on and stopped awarding free kicks for blatant dives, then feigning injury.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I think it actually happened as we were entering stoppage time, hence the 8 minutes added on after the incident. But, would he have offered us the third goal if they hadn’t been in front at the time? I doubt it.

    • Marky mark says:

      Good point that Tony

      Took him nearly 30 minutes to start feeling guilty, his apology is worthless.

  • peter bates says:

    Fair play means nothing in todays game managers condone blatant cheating ie diving they see cheating as part of the game then blame match officials start hitti.g the managers with fines for cheating and i am sure it will change

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I’ve said this no end of times. The cause and the cure are the same thing. The managers. They are the ONLY one’s who can stamp it out. The officials won’t, the FA/Premier League won’t…. and the players certainly won’t.

      If the managers fined players for it, then dropped them for further occurances, it would be wiped out in a single season.

      • Marky mark says:

        Never gonna happen Staffs unfortunately, you will never stop players going down injured to waste time irrespective of who gets the back, because they go down in dangerous areas and the referee is always going to stop the game.

  • peter bates says:

    Managers wont fine players because as i said they condone it but if associations fined the managers it would stop

  • Peter says:

    I am sorry but how can we be moaning? We do it to Watford, but it was their own fault. Somebody does it to us and we blame them. We cannot have it both ways. Our manager, to his credit, said he would have given a free goal back after the Watford game. How can we be happy to skirt over the fact our captain did this, but be hypocritical enough to blame them for being the same. I see no difference between this or diving or rolling around on the floor. Sportsmanship is rare, and we are no different.

  • Ali Duncan says:

    The ET half time goal they gave us was an attempt to gain back credibility but I still believe they’ll look stupid to the rest of the footballing world.

    The first 20 minutes is the worst I’ve seen us this season. Yeovil were all over us like a rash and the first goal was totally against the run of play. I was very concerned that we might get a hammering before that went in.

    However second half was much much better and Burke had an excellent game after the break and along with Eardley were the standout performers. I must say that Ambrose looked lively and very hungry when he came on, very encouraging as he could be like a new signing.

    Final point and I know some people will lambast me for this but last night proved very clearly that Lee Novak will not score the goals that we’ll need to keep us in this division. I’m normally a very positive bloke but Novak just goes not know how to finish. I’ve read before from Huddersfield fans that he needs 5 or 6 chances to score. I’m going to say he needs at least a dozen. Yes he works hard but he is a striker and strikers are paid to score goals – last night Novak very clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t have the talent to succeed at this level. Granted Green didn’t have a great game either but I see a Ziggy and Green combo working well based on the flick ons and pace.

  • Peter says:

    On the plus side, it seems we have found the tactic to get Novak scoring!

  • jimbo says:

    If I remember rightly, Robbo commented that he misunderstood the refs signal and didn’t understand the ref had stopped play and so carried on playing.

    • Peter says:

      I am sorry, but that is rubbish. We cannot moan at other clubs excusing poor sportsmanship, if we allow anything to be excused by us. We were one down and desperate, like Yeovil.

  • steve says:

    Does anybody else think the winning penalty looked a bit ropey?I think Hennessey should have saved the falling ball.He seemed to push it in. Maybe he was embarrassed.

  • dave mann says:

    that penalty just looked dodgy, he seemed to let it roll in with no attempt to pull it back.
    on the yeovil ” goal ” i think it was blown out of all proportions by eveyone, the media,
    the commentary, the players, the managers and the fans, it will continue to happen
    because if i was a manager and was 2-1 downgoing into injury time and one off
    there players went down and the goalie kicks it out off play i would find it very
    difficult not to think they are time wasteing and would be very reluctant to let them
    have the ball back, call me unsportsman like but thats how i would feel and so would
    most other people if there being honest. fair play, fair enough, but whats good for the

  • jazzzy786 says:

    I think Yeovil did the right thing and score that goal. There’s no law saying they should give us the ball back. The fact our players just stood by and watched is immaterial. Either they need to make it a law punishable by ungentlemanly conduct or tell teams that the ball doesn’t need to given back.

  • Rooster says:

    I was at the game last night, first and foremost- the referee was shocking. In my opinion it should be down to the referee how the game restarts (whether the ball is sportingly kicked back to the opposition or if play carries on, at least both teams know how the game will restart). Not for the first time last night, Dan Burn went up for a header with a player backing into him- he landed awkwardly. Colin Doyle had the ball and assessed the situation before booting it out of play. Yeovil took the opportunity & scored- it was obvious blues had stopped playing- which is where the unsporting conduct kicks in. I thought Blues were comfortable and this was the only way Yeovil would get into the game. What is frustrating is the amount of decisions which go against blues. Fair enough home team gets benefit of the doubt, but little pushes into the back not given, Dan Burns constantly being manhandled in the area on corners & getting no protection, along with a Yeovil player blatantly handballing in the area- was enough to take. Admittedly, it shouldn’t have mattered as blues missed some chances (good saves by the Yeovil goalkeeper). All in all, the buck stops with referee & communicating with players to avoid situations like this

    • mike b says:

      hi all….rooster you make some good points….why players kick the ball out so much i dont know….i am sure when it first started it was for head injuries only!!!!!!
      yes if you think the injury is serious i am sure the opponents would do the right thing….but the ref should make the final decision on whether to have a dropped ball or not…

  • Blooflame says:

    Forget the unsporting behaviour….what would you expect from a trade that has no honour any more? Contracts are worthless bits of paper. No ,what we should look at is probably the worse Goalkeeper this club has ever had. Where is his mind? I could see where his (immobile) body was, he should never have been beaten by any of those goals. The team as a whole switched off for the talking point goal, they’re paid to switch on from the first whistle to the last…..remember no one has honour so don’t expect sportsmanship.

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