A few pundits have been analysing an incident in our much-needed victory over Wigan at the weekend. Stephen Hunt went through on the keeper, nudged the ball past him and contact was made forcing him off balance.The Wolves man didn’t hit the ground though, he stayed on his feet and tried to play the ball back to a teammate. Wigan defended it and the chance was lost.
Not for the first time when a Wolves player has had the chance to go down and stayed upright and the question dividing both fans and professionals in the game is: should he have hit the deck?
No, no, no . . . he flaming well shouldn’t have and he deserves massive credit for making that decision. I say that knowing that a penalty would have been a huge help to our struggling side at that point in the game. And I say it also knowing that the willingness of our players to stay on their feet – usually Doyle and occasionally Ward too – costs us a few penalties every season.
But if we con the ref in to giving a pen which wins a game or gets us a point that we don’t deserve, I’ll feel that.
One of the reasons I’m always behind this manager and this Wolves team is that they are honest. I really think if I supported a team where diving is accepted practice, and where rolling around in agony after a tap on the shin pad is acceptable, I would lose interest. If you are beaten by Wolves, you are beaten fairly and I get an added satisfaction with that knowledge.
If you go down when no contact, or minimal contact, is made then you are a cheat and should be booked. End of story. But I’m not saying to hit the deck when sufficient contact is made is always cheating. If you are pushed off balance then it’s a foul regardless of whether you end up on your belly.
The trouble is, a ref will never give a penalty when the player stays on his feet so the majority of players opt to make sure of the decision by going down. But surely the aim should be to improve the quality of the officials’ decisions, not adapt to poor refereeing.