Pitch invasions. Hull City being renamed the ‘Tigers’. The Premier League season hasn’t even begun and the mad, bad and shameful behaviour of footballers, clubs and fans has already started.
This year Paddy Power is dishing out the justice for #BallOfShame antics suffered by your team and top flight football. Brace yourself for Money-Back Specials, refunds and maybe even some Lucky Pants if your side is on the receiving end.
To get you warmed up for the maddest season ever here is a Ball Of Shame footballing history…
1823 – William Webb Ellis
Ellis is awarded the honour of inventing rugby when he picked up the ball during a football game, ran the length of the pitch and touched it down over the end line. Instead, what he actually did was introduce the concepts of blatant handball and diving to the game. No more pointing the finger at Johnny Foreigner.
1840 – First Referees
Up to this point the enforcement of the rules was achieved by means of a gentleman’s agreement between the players. Introducing an objective third party led to a dramatic rise in punished infractions and a decrease in disgruntled players taking their ball and going home.
1904 – FIFA is founded
The Catholic church of football. All powerful, extremely wealthy and riddled with corruption. Sepp Blatter is the Silvio Berlusconi of football. Just as sleazy and arrogant but considerably less charming. If you want to know who the real bad boys of football are you need look no further than bung loving heads of the game.
1929 – Serie A is founded
Though they wouldn’t have known it at the time, the Italian league would go on to house some of the biggest scandals in football. From match-fixing, to drugs scandals to more match-fixing to even more match-fixing. Serie A is the Mecca of Ball of Shame behaviour.
1962 – The Battle of Santiago
Chile and Italy basically kicked and punched each other from kick-off to final whistle in their 1962 World Cup group game. Amazingly only one player was sent off. There have been bigger and more violent on-field battles but few more high-profile. And it has a pretty cool name.
1970 – FA Cup Final replay
Incredibly during this televised mass brawl, some football did break out and Chelsea beat Leeds 2-1. Referee Eric Jenkins booked one player and ‘played advantage’ to a greater extent than had ever been seen. David Elleray, reviewing the match in 1997, concluded that there should have been at least 20 yellow cards and six sending offs, and he was being lenient.
‘Chelsea’s hard men systematically targeted Gray, and Harris finally nailed him late in the first half with a malicious kick on the back of the left knee. Moments later, Charlton headbutted and kneed Osgood after the Chelsea striker had tackled him from behind. Wherever you looked on the field there was mayhem, as players kicked, gouged and butted each other with impunity.’
The Independent’s match report
1975 – Francis Lee v Norman Hunter
Two England internationals trying to beat the head off each other – sound familiar? Leeds United’s Norman ‘Bite Ya Legs’ Hunter was a tough tackling defender, Derby’s Francis Lee had a habit of going to ground. Hunter split Lee’s lip with a sweet left hook and both men got their marching orders. Lee wasn’t finished though and on the way to the dressing room executed some lovely wind-mill punches on Hunter, flooring the big man. A victory for the little guy, kind of. The Observer named it the most spectacular dismissal in sport.
1986 – Maradonna’s Hand of God
Maradonna’s goal that helped knock England out of the World Cup was dubbed the ‘Hand of God’, but it was a devilish piece of Ball of Shame behaviour. The Argentinian is ten inches shorter than England goalie Peter Shilton but a swift flick of his little chubby arm sent the ball into the back of the net and put England back on the plane home.
1992 – The fastest yellow card in history
Vinnie Jones was such an aggressive and intimidating player it actually helped him get typecast as a hooligan and criminal in his subsequent acting career. Lee Cattermole take note. In a game between Sheffield United and Chelsea, Jones chopped down Dane Whitehouse and was booked within three seconds, incredibly, for a late challenge.
1995 – Eric Cantona kung-fu kick
After getting sent off for kicking out at Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw, Manchester United’s Eric Cantona demonstrated his martial arts ability by kung-fu kicking a member of the public. Luckily, nothing breezes over an attack on a supporter like a quote about sardines, trawlers and seagulls. Cantona got 120 hours of community service, a £30k fine and an eight month ban for this moment of madness.
2005 – Kieran Dyer v Lee Bowyer
It wasn’t quite Hunter v Lee round two, but the clash between Dyer and Bowyer was all the more baffling as they were on the same team. That’s the level footballers will sink to in an effort to avoid playing for Newcastle. Bowyer got the best dig in before the two were split up by Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry. It is still the most memorable thing any of the three men have ever done on a football pitch.
2009 – Terry rides Bridge’s missus
Ah John Terry. A man who epitomises bad boy behaviour through being accused of racist abuse, attacking bouncers and, in 2009, spending four months getting his leg over on his former team-mate’s missus. In the most talked about handshake of all time, Wayne Bridge declined Terry’s attempts next time the men met, and ever since Chelsea players have feared for their marriages.
2012/13 – Kicking ballboys and biting defenders
Last season was arguably the peak of badboy behaviour. The yellow cards and the early baths were just a drop, in an ocean of knee-high tackles, racism accusations, biting, diving, fighting and assaulting ball boys. Luis Suarez sunk his teeth into Branislav Ivanovich, Mark Clattenburg was accused of racially abusing most of the Chelsea team, Eden Hazard gave a ball boy a good kicking and Callum McManaman tried his hardest to snap people’s legs and not get booked. It was 380 games of Ball of Shame gold.
Muzzles? Ankle tags? Tasers? Straitjackets? Who knows what lengths we may have to go to in order to prevent this bad behaviour escalating even further. One thing is for certain, when your club is on the wrong end of football’s bad behaviour, Paddy will be there to reward you.