In one of the most bizarre moments of the season, Eden Hazard ‘kicked’ a ball ‘boy’. And by kicked, I mean, toe poked the ball. And by boy, I mean a seventeen year old who refers to himself as a LAD* and is holding a tin of lager in his Twitter profile picture.With Bradford City bossing the headlines of this season’s Capital One Cup after taking down every Premier League opponent they face, Chelsea was going to really have to do something spectacular to get themselves front and centre of those back pages. Step up Eden Hazard – and try not to kick me.
Of course Hazard was clearly frustrated by the apparent lack of tactical guidance given to him by the sizeable character on the touchline and his teammates apparent inability to give a flying f*ck last night. Not that this warrants kicking people haphazardly, but anyone with the ability to reason can see where he was coming from. Helped of course by the ball boy deliberately not giving the ball back, by doing his best to absorb it into what is no doubt a sizeable navel.
Of course what was stranger about the incident than the actual attempt to get the ball back quickly versus ensuring that Chelsea didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at scoring (which they were doing without the help of the ball ‘boy’), was the division of immediate reactions to the event itself. Standard club allegiances amongst supporters dictated their opinions, but journalists and players – not for the first time – found themselves in very different camps.
Not surprising that journalists immediately criticised the small Belgian – as its a much better story if a professional footballer was kicking a child in frustration. And either way, Hazard shouldn’t have done it, and hoped that Chris Foy would for once in his career do his job and add time for the wasted time of Charlie Morgan. But no matter the club, just about every single professional player sided with Hazard.
I, of course, resent finding myself agreeing with Michael Owen and Robbie Savage, but agree I did.
Michael Owen immediately tried to quell the drama being stirred up as it happened by pointing out to journalist head boy Henry Winter: “Do me a favour Henry. He tries (and succeeds) to toe poke the ball out of his clutches. You can see the Swansea player tell the kid not to throw it back. I think he took the instruction a bit too far!” And by too far, Owen is referring to the dry humping of the ball that ensued.
Some things to think about though – at what age should a ball boy stop being a ball boy. Even Rio Ferdinand today said “17 year old ball boy…is that a wind up!!? Is being a ball boy now a career move??” It also puts the ‘kick’ in a lot more perspective. This was someone considered an adult in seven months and arguably bigger than Hazard. An adult, who’s the director’s son, heir to a £46 million fortune. Over priveleged. Over reaction.Robbie Savage pointed out that “If the ball boy gives the ball straight back and does his job properly that doesn’t happen!”. But of course this ball ‘boy’ had no intention of doing that. Four hours before the match, he tweeted “The king of all ball boys is back making his final appearance #needed #for #timewasting”. Part of the instructions to these ball boys no doubt. Next up, ball boys elbowing players off the ball.
Everyone (but Pat Nevin) recognises that the card was fair, Hazard shouldn’t have let the stress get to him. But the immediate vilification and dramatization was over the top – even for Chelsea standards. The ‘ball boy’ came to the Chelsea room after to meet the players, while he and Hazard apologised to each other. And went on to apologise publicly on Chelsea TV for his own overreaction. At this point we should all move on from the incident.Pat Nevin not only thought the reaction was all a bit much, but admitted to wanting to kick him too. “He must have been watching footballers, the way he rolled around and pretended to be more injured. He only has one job and his job is to go and give the ball back, and what did he do? He keeps the ball. I have to say I was absolutely amazed this morning to find he is 17, not 12, not 13. He should know what his action should be in that situation. His behaviour was disgraceful.”
The real concerns are: Ferdinand was funny, and I found myself agreeing with Michael Owen and Robbie Savage. Owen AND SAVAGE FFS! Arguably that was the greatest crime of all. I blame you Charlie Morgan. I blame you.
Morgan should be pleased that if he’d been on the other side, and Ashley Williams had tried to retrieve that ball, he’d be lucky just to still be alive.
* his prolific reference to himself as a lad in itself warrants a good kicking
Did this kid deserved to be taken down a peg or two? Or is Hazard bang out of order? Have your say below. You can get involved with Football Rascal via our Twitter or our Facebook page – don’t bother though if you cannot take the banter!