The Ball Boy Hazard….

It says a lot about the quality of a football match that the post-match analysis and media coverage of a League Cup semi-final are dominated by an incident surrounding a humble ball boy.

But, after a truly dour 90mins in which Swansea City remained entirely untroubled by Chelsea – apparently still clinging to the distant memories of being somehow crowned European Champions last season – and their half-assed efforts to claw back a 2-0 first-leg semi-final deficit, the issue on the lips of every commentator was a laughable altercation between Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and a lowly Swansea ball boy.

Entering the last 15mins of the dying embers of yet another forlorn trophy quest for the Blues – following the European Champions League, the European Super Cup, the World Club Championship and in all likelihood the English Premier League – £32M Belgian whizzkid Eden Hazard sought to bely the embarrassingly paltry efforts of his team up until that point by attempting to inject the myth of genuinely passionate desperation and eagerness into proceedings. Hazard, perhaps his personal frustration boiling over at yet another misplaced pass, yet another instance or poor control or another misdirected apparent shot on goal, sought to quickly retrieve the ball from beyond the touchline and back into play.

But he was thwarted by the quick-thinking anticipation of a 17yr old ball boy – yes, 17yrs old – who not at all saw the opportunity to waste some precious seconds of time for the home side. Having raced towards the ball, despite Hazard’s presence making his involvement totally unnecessary, he expertly flopped on top of it in a act of protective proficiency that would have Richie McCaw drooling in admiration, before rolling around in agony as Hazard attempted to free the ball.

Now I am no Chelsea fan and cannot help but feel this latest indiscretion heaps more unwanted scrutiny on the club, but this was hardly a violent attack in the mould of Eric Cantona’s infamous assault on a fan during his overrated time at Man Utd. But Hazard was incredibly naive and thoughtless to involve himself and, despite the ball boy’s impressive pole-axed Didier Drogba impersonation, he was, in my opinion, rightly dismissed from the field of play. The referee had little choice.

Now while Sir Alex Ferguson contemplates a £10M bid for the ball boy as a replacement for the hapless David de Gea – Sir Alex reported to have been hugely impressed by the lad’s handling skills under pressure – while Man Utd supporters breathe a collective sigh of relief that it wasn’t Robin van Persie in the role of ball boy – a trauma such as that inflicted on him by Hazard would’ve probably “killed the boy” in Sir Alex’s gospel assessment – and the ball boy said to be sifting through the offers to appear in Celebrity Big Brother, the other question is this….

Hopefully and, in all likelihood, Hazard will receive a standard three-match suspension for violent conduct and the issue will soon be forgotten, allowing Swansea City and Bradford City’s wonderful achievement in reaching a Cup Final to be rightly lauded. But, with an increasing band of the media, and amongst football followers in general, advocating a sympathetic view towards Hazard and suggesting the ball boy ought to accept responsibility for his questionable actions, I wonder whether the reaction would have been quite the same had the player been Luis Suarez rather than Eden Hazard?!?

Perish the thought that the English media have an agenda, but I suspect there would of been calls for a season-long ban, criminal prosecution and a return to capital punishment had the Uruguayan, rather than the Belgian, found himself in that very same situation….

5 thoughts on “The Ball Boy Hazard….

  1. In my opinion, he should’ve picked the ball up (with the kid attached to it) and give it to the keeper to boot it downfield (still with the kid attached to it). Thats what he deserved!

    Just a note, I really battle to read the white text on the black background of your blog! Afterwards I cant see a thing on my pc! Is it just me?

    • Hi Leeubok, I’ve not encountered a problem thus far but I’ll take a look at the text settings nonetheless. As far as your thoughts on the ball boy I agree wholeheartedly! I see the English FA have just announced that they are to charge Eden Hazard with violent conduct in addition to the mandatory three-match suspension for his red card which seems a ludicrous over-reaction to the actual incident. The ball boy deliberately involved himself in the course of play and his subsequent reaction to Hazard’s intervention was embarrassing in the extreme. At worst Hazard clipped him in freeing the ball; to see him rolling around half-dead did him no favours.

      • Well, the ballboy sees his football heroes rolling around half dead after being touched (sometimes not even) by the opposition players, so he was just copying them. That to me is a sickness in football and I cannot understand how they can not put a stop to it. It ruins the game in my opinion

  2. Humble ball boy? Exactly what is it that you are smoking? The arrogance and audacity of this young man has gotten him exactly what he deserved. Diving on a ball to waste time in such an important game is a cry for attention. I could not care less if he is the son of a Swansea director, fact is he should just have picked up the ball and given it to Hazard or the keeper. You claim Cantona’s assault on a fan is worse and i agree what i dont agree with is you stating Cantona’s career with United was overrated, nothing could be further from the truth, Cantona is a legend and one the best of all time. It is funny how you always find a way of trashing United at every opportunity you get and i cant help but feel sorry for you, i really do because like so many other ignorant fools in this world you are blinded by hatred for a team and a man that has turned United into a world famous brand. Perhaps you are a die hard Liverpool fan, i could be wrong but you sure sound like one.

    • Quite an assault there Wayne but as always I welcome contributors to this blog and will try to address your points as best I can. I referred to the ‘humble ball boy’ on the basis that of all the factors to affect a football match you’d think a ball boy would be a long way down that list? I actually agree with you wholeheartedly; the ball boy – at 17yrs old – knew exactly what he was doing, perhaps under instruction from the club, and, personally, I would’ve struggled not to have booted him a good deal harder than Hazard. I don’t think he should have been anywhere near the scene in all honesty being that ball boys are supposed to retrieve a ball back into play…yet Hazard’s presence a few feet away from the rolling ball ought to have rendered his job redundant. He should have sat back and allowed Hazard to return the ball to the keeper rather than involve himself purely for self-promotion and attention. The real point of the blog was to ask whether the ball boy would’ve found himself under such subsequent scrutiny had the player involved been Luis Suarez or whether the kitchen sink would’ve been automatically thrown at the Uruguayan?

      Right, to Man Utd. Yes I am a Liverpool fan and so there is an obvious rivalry between me and Utd. But, unlike some one-eyed fans, I cannot help but begrudgingly admire the way Sir Alex has build Utd into the force that they have become….while playing some damn attractive football as well. But my point on Cantona is that, while he contributed to Utd’s early success, I don’t think he was the be all and end all that Utd fans would have you believe. There have been far more significant players in Utd’s recent history that have, in my opinion, influenced the club to a far greater extent than Cantona. Schmeichel, Steve Bruce, Dennis Irwin – the most underrated full back in EPL history, Roy Keane, Scholes, Giggs to name but a few. The sheer scale of investment enjoyed by Fergie at the start of the 1990’s coupled with that remarkable band of youngsters that came through such as Beckham, the Neville brothers etc…would, in my opinion, with Fergie’s astute management, have ensured Utd’s rise to the top regardless of Cantona’s input. And while Utd imposed themselves as the dominant force in England, I see it as no coincidence that their European performances were extremely average with Cantona in the side and that they only finally won the Champions League when he had left. Indeed, I could also point to his moderate impact at international level where once France had rid themselves of his presence they quickly won the FIFA World Cup and European Championship in quick succession.

      But football is of course a game of opinions. I wonder, Wayne, whether you would honestly include Cantona in your Man Utd XI based on the EPL years? Off the top of my head, and without the knowledge of a Utd fan, my XI would look something like this; Schmeichel, Neville, Ferdinand, Stam, Irwin, Keane, Scholes, Beckham, Giggs, Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy. I know I’ve left some great names out such as Bruce, Vidic and, if he carries on in this ludicrously rich vein of form, RVP, but I think that side would be a match for almost any in EPL history.

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