Well, what a peculiar twenty-four hours it has been. Thanks to some judicious spamming, this has been the busiest day on here for quite some time. So, first of all, many thanks to all of you that have stopped by and, of course, to those of you that have taken the time to vote for me (and I know it’s at least a couple of you). If you haven’t voted and want to, you can do so here. And how am I going to reward you all for your patience and loyalty? By talking about Torquay United. Obviously. But you wouldn’t have it any way, would you?
Now, I’ve always had an inexplicable soft spot for Torquay United. It’s probably because of the story of how they stayed in the League in 1987. Having had a wretched season, they went into their final match of the season against Crewe Alexandra needing a point to stay in the League. With several minutes to play, and Torquay 2-1 down, one of their players was bitten by an over-excitable police dog. The injury took four minutes to be patched up, but in the fifth minute of injury time (time that had been added on for the injury to be treated), Torquay levelled things up and Lincoln City went down instead. For those of you that were wondering, the dog’s name was Bryn.
They now seem likely to hit the headlines over “The Torquay Initiative”, an extraordinary statement of intent with regards to cheating in the modern game. The Torquay Initiative is fairly simple. If a Torquay player is adjudged by their own board of directors to have feigned injury or conned a referee through diving, the player will be fined by Torquay United. The disciplinary process is clear-cut, and doesn’t pull any punches:
“If the Player is judged to have feigned injury, or attempted to have ‘Conned’ the Referee, then the following disciplinary action will occur (in their own words):
1st Time Offence: A disciplinary letter and caution about future conduct
2nd Time Offence: The player receives a final warning and maximum club fine
3rd Time Offence: The player is either placed on the transfer list or dismissed for gross breach of conduct.
Either way he will not play for Torquay United again.”
The brave move that they have taken is to make this public, and to request that all other clubs sign up to it. Other clubs should take heed. The pressure is now on them to sign up to it as well. Unless they support cheating in the modern game, they have to, don’t they? I strongly recommend that you all contact your clubs with a link to the Torquay Initiative website and demand that they sign up to it with immediate effect.
As with anything in modern football, there is room for scepticism here. Are Torquay, as has been suggested on the ever-wonderful One Touch Football, simply smarting because they lost to a dodgy penalty at Swindon on Saturday? Is there the possibility that players will not want to sign for them because of this policy? Are, for example, Manchester United, ever going to sack, say, Cristiano Ronaldo and throw £20m down the drain because he takes a dive every now and then? I’m inclined to disregard this sort of thought, because the point is not how literally it should be taken, but that we should accept it as a point of principle. If all clubs cannot agree to the principle of not cheating, then we may as well all just give up on the game now and take up Lacrosse instead. We all know the extent to which last summer’s World Cup was turned into a farce because of the theatrics of the players, and we know that it simply cannot continue like this. Torquay United should be applauded for a brave move that may just, with the support of players and clubs alike, revolutionise the way that the game is played in this country.
There we go. A whole post about Torquay United, and I didn’t even mention that tattoo on Helen Chamberlain’s arse. Oh damn.