Just 20 minutes into the new season. That is all it took for the FA’s clampdown on poor behaviour towards match officials to get off to a bad start.
Non League Football is meant to be a family sport and that idea went out of the window when Runcorn Linnets turned up at Hemsworth Miners Welfare for the Emirates FA Extra Preliminary Round tie on Saturday.
The brawl is small matter and one that has been dealt with as Cameron Clark and Runcorn’s Antony Hickey were sent off. Nothing more needs to be addressed over the actions of the players.
More shocking is what happened next and the video filmed by a neutral spectator is not pretty viewing. It is absolutely disgraceful, to be precise. A Runcorn supporter incredibly launches the ball at the head of the assistant referee before being one of a few who shout obscene remarks at all and sundry. The ball-throw and the appalling language are as bad as each other. It is the type of behaviour that causes clubs to lose supporters, especially ones with children.
Runcorn have yet (as of Monday evening) to comment on the video nasty, but their response needs to be tough and clear. The FA also need to send out a strong message with their punishment when they deal with the contents of the clip. A year’s FA Cup ban for Runcorn should not be ruled out.
Dealing with their assistant manager also needs to be on their list as he walks 20-yards onto the pitch further on in the clip to swear twice at referee Martin Ashforth. Why he did not get his marching orders is a question only the official can answer?
Both are types of behaviour that the FA wants to stamp out and the offender(s) must be dealt with by their club and the authorities.
What is with AFC Emley and dramatic FA Cup ties during the opening few weeks of August.
Quite a few readers will remember the unforgettable Wigan Robin Park tie when Emley scored twice in stoppage time to come from 2-1 behind to win 3-2. Paul Sykes scored a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ style penalty in the 97th minute.
It wasn’t quite that on Sunday, but the comeback victory over Athersley Rec was another memorable occasion.