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Opinion

Ball Boys – The twelfth man

9 months ago
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A few years ago I was at the game between ourselves and Benfica.

If my memory serves me right, we would go through to the last few if we won by two clear goals.

Anyway, we’re winning 1-0 with a few minutes to go and piling on the pressure. Well, that is trying our hardest to maintain a momentum that would hopefully lead to the second goal.

The other team were defending for their lives, just booting it anywhere. That shouldn’t save them much time but unfortunately it did. It did because of a problem that simply hasn’t gone away at SJP, ball boys!

Now, before you think ball boys don’t influence a game, cast your minds back to the quick thinking ball boy at Liverpool v Barcelona, or the one at Spurs recently, or even the one at Swansea who dived on the ball v Chelsea.

Remember the ball boys with towels to dry the ball for that long throw bloke from Tranmere.

They can clearly make a difference and be that twelfth man.

Now I’m not expecting miracles but actually being ready to return the ball would be a start.

Fast forward to the Oxford game. Apart from a ten minute spell when they pushed forward, the Oxford game plan was to waste time. So, as Delia Smith once said “where are ya?”

Where exactly were the ball boys to return the ball quickly to either our players or theirs? I saw a couple of the little time wasting accomplices get the ball maybe once or twice at most. They look like they just want to sit and don’t have a clue what to do. Can they not actually get over the hoarding these days or has Ashley electrified it so nobody gets in the way of his advertising?

Now, I’m not one to criticise without offering a solution so here it is: forget making some little kids’ day with a signed ball and a plastic seat to sit on for 90 mins, let’s have ball men instead. We could make that telling contribution.

We’d make sure that the likes of Jordan Henderson had the ball hurled his way if we are losing and we’d even entertain the crowd with a few kick ups if we are winning. Once that ball crosses that line it’s ours.

There would be no time wasting like kicking it further away either. We’d be over the hoarding, opposing player shoved out of the way and ball with a black and white shirt faster than you can say “Jordan Pickford has got short arms.”

Joking aside, watch the next game and see what you think.

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