To Book Or Not To Book?

Clive Rose

Guest writer Haddenham Royal weighs in with some observations from the West Brom game about the referee's notebook - why was Pavel Pogrebnyak's name taken down and not James Morrison's? A wider look at exactly what constitutes a booking in the modern game.

Firstly I would like to say I am very pleased with Saturday. After 82 minutes I was dreading Monday morning and seeing the various WBA fans that I seem to know. At 90 plus minutes I could not believe that we had managed to turn one of the more depressing games of football I have watched at the Mad Stad into one of the best.

This game did however bring up 2 of my pet hates in football. The first being players gesturing to opposition fans when scoring and the second, players getting booked when taking their shirt off after scoring.

In all the excitement it may have gone unnoticed that after the first goal James Morrison cupped his ear to the home fans. My question is why is this allowed? Is this not unnecessary crowd provocation? I saw that Lambert put his finger to his lips when he scored Southampton's "penalty" at the weekend. Kevin Nolan took the time to run into the goal and celebrate in front of the Reading fans in May. To me that shows the character of a player I do not like, taking the time to wind up the opposition fans when your side has just got back in the game and with time running out.

Not that this is something that Reading players don't do. Harte did a Lambert in the previously mentioned 4-2 game when he scored from the spot. One of the worst examples that I can remember is Grant Brebner scoring the opening goal in a 1998 2-1 win against Stoke and celebrating in front of the travelling fans. I had a lot of time for Brebner and I do for Harte. But why is this accepted by the FA? I don't get it.

The worst example that I can recall was Ashley Ward when he scored early on for Sheffield Utd in the early 2000s. He ran towards the home fans with arms stretched out wide with a big stupid grin on his face closely followed by his teammates. Fortunately Reading came back to win 2-1.

My dislike of Andy Johnson began when he scored in the 3-2 Lita overhead kick, twice missed penalty, Sonko winner game. He felt the need to run in front of the North Stand with his fingers to his lips. Why? I don't remember him getting any stick from Reading fans before this. Why is that not a booking for unsporting behaviour or crowd incitement?

What was different to that and Jamie Cureton celebrating in front of the Bristol Rovers fans after the abuse he received when he joined Reading. He got a fine for that. Why does the FA not think this is something that should be stopped?

This brings me to my other pet hate that reared its ugly head in the WBA game. Why book a player for taking his shirt off when celebrating a goal? Who does it hurt? Lita fell victim to this several times in his time at Reading. Why do players get booked for this? What do they think is going happen? All the women in the ground are going to faint at the site of a man's chest? People are going to be so appalled they are going to complain? At the end of the day I'm not in a 5 star restaurant, I am at a football match!

So why is provoking opposition fans seen as OK by the FA? But showing some passion in front of your own fans not acceptable?

Still, after Morrison's celebration, we came from 2-0 down to win 3-2, so at least we were celebrating at the end of the game!

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