In Saturday's Premier League matches, the sixth set of the season, two instances of cheating by blocking come to mind. 'Blocking' is when a player deliberately runs into an opponent to prevent him getting to the ball. It is a foul and is punished by a free kick, or a penalty if in the area.
In Manchester City v Chelsea, the young defender Boyata was making his second start for the team. In order to stop Drogba's movement in the penalty area he blocked him and they both fell over. The referee apparently did not see the incident, nor did the linesmen, otherwise it would have been an unequivocal penalty that would have changed this match - into at least a draw for Chelsea instead of a defeat. But we all say that!
Pundit, ex-player and ex-manager, Graham Souness said of the incident when reviewing the match in the tv studio, " This was just a young lad" referring to Boyata. He seemed to be suggesting that the foul was due to inexperience! Or did he mean that the crudity of the incident was due to inexperience?!
One of the most successful cheaters I have seen is the vastly experienced James Carragher of Liverpool. His speciality is shirt-pulling - at least one penalty a game would be given away if the referee was able to see what he does. Yes, I know, there are many other cheaters - but this one I have noticed as surprisingly consistent and successful.
In the Newcastle v Stoke City match on Sunday, Huth of Stoke blocked Carroll of Newcastle when a high ball was coming into the box from a free kick - which the Stoke goalkeeper, Sorensen, caught cleanly. It had passed over the prone bodies of Huth and Carroll - the result of the block. Huth lay splendidly splayed on the turf like a surprised flounder flushed up on the beach. The referee gave a penalty. He was not fooled - well done, ref! Nolan, the Newcastle captain, scored from the penalty kick. The foul seemed to have been unnecessary as the ball would have passed over any position the tall striker's head might have reached. Just maybe, when Huth sees the replay he will not try this cheating move again! Stoke did however win at St James Park by 2 goals to 1.
The childhood cry, "Cheat, cheat, never beat" was one of hope as well as complaint. The teams of both cheats won their matches.