Football: The Sweeper: Blasphemy rife in Christian League

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The Independent Online
IF WALTER SMITH thinks his Everton players are harshly treated by referees in the Premiership, he should try managing in the southern area Christian League.

Marshall Baron, the club secretary of Richmond St Mary's, recently suffered the humiliation of seeing his entire team sent off - for swearing.

Practising what one preaches has proved difficult for Baron, who was among those sent off minutes from time against Chessington Evangelical Church at Old Deer Park.

"It was a complete farce" he said. "I admit I said 'Jesus Christ' and should have been sent off. I am not saying we were angels, but we object to the fact that the game was abandoned entirely and we were punished and Chessington were not - there was swearing on both sides."

Apparently, industrial language was only the half of it, according to Baron, an altar server at Richmond Parish Church. He claimed that trouble flared when a Chessington player went unpunished after committing eight vicious fouls.

"One of my players warned the ref he would be held responsible if someone was seriously hurt by this player," said Baron, who left the field concussed and with a sore leg to go with his red card.

"Then a Chessington player asked one of my team what he knew about being a Christian.

"He told him: 'sod off. I'm a Roman Catholic'."

Richmond also had another player booked after the game had been abandoned, but at least they got one point out of five for sportsmanship; Chessington got four.

The Richmond-based team, who have all been friends since their schooldays at St Paul's and Westminster, also had a point docked, which they are now appealing against.

As for Baron, he has resigned from his position as League representative for the club.

"I have been playing in the League for 10 years and am held as an honest person. We are very sad that it all happened, and still feel very hard done by.

"The team, many of whom are my old friends, are not all Christians and we realise swearing is not acceptable in a Christian League - but neither is dangerous tackling."

BEDLINGTON TERRIERS dipped out of the spotlight in more ways than one during the past seven days when their FA Vase third round tie against Mickleover Sport was abandoned, not once, but twice, because of floodlight failure.

The Terriers, whose brave FA Cup run came to an end at Scunthorpe last Saturday week, looked light years ahead of the opposition when the lights failed last Saturday while they were leading 4-1.

Their manager, Keith Perry, warned against complacency in the replayed tie at the Doctor Pit Welfare Ground on Wednesday and he was spot on. With 18 minutes to go, it was the turn of the Derbyshire side Mickleover to step out of the shadows and establish a three-goal lead. When they and everyone else were again plunged into darkness.

The FA is now considering whether to allow Bedlington to go for a hat- trick by staging the game again.

STEVE BRUCE has endeared himself to Blades' supporters however well or badly his Sheffield United side fare this season in the First Division promotion race.

Pride of place on the wall of the manager's office at Bramall Lane are two photographs of Bruce in goalscoring mode for Manchester United in the game which some people feel secured them the Premiership title in 1992. The side on the receiving end of Bruce's brace was Sheffield Wednesday.

DAVID O'LEARY and Peter Ridsdale, the Leeds manager and chairman respectively, appeared to be on a collision course over the club's image if recent comments from the two are anything to go by.

At a welcome dinner for the new manager and his assistant Eddie Gray, Ridsdale told the gathering: "We have had a fairly interesting start to the season, with the odd change we didn't expect, but the great thing is that sexy football is no longer at Newcastle, it is here at Leeds United!"

A few days later O'Leary, commenting on the team's style of play, said: "I don't want any of this 20 or 30 passes going nowhere. What we want here is purposeful football, not this sexy football."

EVERTON FANS thought it was a wind-up perpetrated from the other side of Stanley Park when it was announced a video had been released of Goodison's greatest goals. But no, in fact, it did exist and was called "Everton - 300 Great Goals" and produced by a company called Tracks.

But upon investigation it transpired that the video had been withdrawn for what reason no one seems to know. Red rumour has it that the makers wanted to include a Goodison goal from this season, but eventually grew tired of waiting.

THE FOOTBALL Conference is emerging as one of the most important breeding grounds for the top marksmen of tomorrow, according to the latest issue of Four Four Two. The January edition profiles "The Top Twenty Strikers Outside the Premiership", of which seven are graduates from the Conference coaching academy. But prospective buyers should not expect a bargain - the magnificent seven would cost a projected pounds 10.3m according to the magazine's valuations.