Inside the Box with Alan Bennett - Football, it unites, it divides and it breaks the ice

Everyone has an opinion: It's always good to meet the fans

Everyone has an opinion: It's always good to meet the fans

First published in AFC Wimbledon Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

We all meet outside in the car park then make our way into the function room, it’s the player sponsors dinner.

Basically at AFC Wimbledon we get to meet and have dinner with the people kind enough to sponsor our home, away and third kit.

I’m on a table with six other people that I have never met before.

At the start it’s a little awkward, slowly conversation gets going about the topic we all love - football.

It brings together all different types of people from old to young from all different backgrounds.

We talk about our own club’s season and how the team have performed.

In a good mannered and polite way some vent their frustrations about certain issues and praise other achievements.

I’m asked some very straight questions and others heavily loaded ones - I answer them all as fairly and honestly as I can. It sounds like it was an inquisition but it was actually a very enjoyable evening.

I have my own questions for the supporters; do you feel its right to boo after a perceived bad performance? What do they think of the season? How long they have been supporting the club? Favourite players ever? First game? Favourite away ground? Changes they would make?

The topic moves to the comparison between rugby and football and the rules in both games, the retreating 10m at a penalty decision some feel should be introduced to football.

In my opinion, the games are so completely different that you can’t compare them. If you don’t retreat or argue with the referee in rugby the oppostion might gain some territory - they might even get an attempt at a score.

But that one score is very unlikely to win you the game at 3-0. OK, you may win by three points but there will be other scores involved. In football that one score could definitely win you the game. That’s the difference.

Another topic mentioned was pulling and grabbing in the penalty area, it’s thought surely if the referee gives one red card it will all stop.

This I didn’t agree with either, there’s perhaps 8-12 corners on average in a game between teams.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Penalty: Would a red card stop others pulling and grabbing, not in my opinion

On each corner there will be maybe 18 players in the box - there will be for the referee perhaps, six different infringements of all different magnitudes going on at the exact same moment. How is he meant to officiate this? How can he physically see all of them?

If he makes a decision and gives a penalty then he will have to be consistent throughout the game.

The point being made was if one referee gave a decision players would take notice, I would not be swayed by what a referee has or hasn’t done in a previous game in terms of my game.

The other was TV referees, this I agree with.

The goal line technology was way over due by the time it was introduced. It has been a success eliminating all doubt about did the ball cross the line or not for a goal.

I would introduce a TV referee, at the referee’s discretion, for incidents only inside the box.

The referee asks another referee if there was a particular infringement and it will be checked and everyone at home can see it, although maybe not live at the game.

Wimbledon Guardian:

Get the correct decision: Goal line technology should have been introduced a long time ago

This wouldn’t slow down the game it would take a matter of minutes and the clock could restart with the correct decision.

One thing we could all agree on was that the refereeing was against us! This is a universal truth like death and taxes.

And this is the beauty of the game, everyone has an opinion, and everyone has a different view point and we discussed back and forward for most of the dinner. 

Finally, I know that just because my opinion is written down and displayed in the media, it doesn’t make it right - it’s just mine.

 

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