With the revelations about the FIFA scandal this week, it prompts the question, what can we do to clean up football? I think as with any social change we must first address our own behaviour and with that in mind I would like to issue the following confession.
The incident occurred during the 2012-13 season but only now do I feel its time to speak out publically. I know I should have said some sooner but I was crippled by shame and fear. Grendon FC were playing The Black Bear reserves in the Nuneaton and district Sunday league Division 4. They had the bare 11 players the night before kick off when the goalkeeper was injured in a freak accident on the morning of the game. To cut a long story short he had completely misjudged the heat of a George Foreman grill and was in hospital with both hands heavily bandaged and melted cheese in his eyes.
I wasn’t officially signed at the time but had a phone call from the manager. He explained that I was the first player he’d thought of after he’d sent a mass group message on Facebook and knocked on all the doors on his street. Danny and Pete at numbers 5 and 7 were already playing for other teams, whilst Doris at number 9 had had a fall in the night so ruled herself out. I was delighted to get the call and my brain didn’t even register that I would have to play under another player’s name.
The game itself was pretty uneventful with both teams’ chances limited. It looked like the game was going to fizzle out, until the 70th minute when the ball dropped to me on the half way line; I spotted the keeper off his line. I could also see that a man walking his Jack Russell next to the pitch had wandered off without picking up his dog’s mess. It was disgusting and just 40 metres from a child’s play area. I did what anyone would do in that situation. I caught the ball in my hands and went over to the dog owner to tell him to pick up the faeces. All my team mates were livid, I couldn’t hear what they were shouting but I think they were cries of support for my one man vigilante mission.
After the commotion had died down the referee approached me brandishing a yellow card. I was shocked but thought it was a small price to pay for the moral victory over the flippant dog walker. And although he’d walked off and I’d picked up the mess myself with my bare hands I felt that justice had been served. It suddenly occurred to me, that I would have to give my false name to the referee to write in his book. I felt instantly guilty and ashamed, “Sunesh Patel” I said coyly.
Sunesh was nice guy, a family man who could only play every other Sunday because he helped out with his family’s fruit and veg stall. I thought of him at that moment, weighing cauliflower oblivious to that fact I had blackened his family name. Sunesh would now receive a £10 fine through the post, which equates to about 2 kilos of garlic he would need to sell to cover the cost.
There hasn’t a day gone by that I haven’t felt ashamed of what I’ve done; I couldn’t face visiting Sunesh and his family. I couldn’t look him in the eye knowing what I’d done. He was also a very relentless salesman and although I was sorry for incident I refuse to be guilt tripped into buying parsnips.
So Sepp Blatter, if you are involved in any wrong doing I suggest you come clean and admit what you have done. Its up to us to root out the bad apples, both metaphorically and literally in Sunesh’s case.