Most of us are familiar with trying to join a new group for a game of football. There’s always a little bit of adjusting to the rules and customs of the new group. But what one man, Martin @NewAgeBoxingUK, was sent when he applied to join a new 5-a-side group was a full-on 14-page rule book which, in his own words, was truly “biblical”.
There are some football groups out there that have been running for decades. They’re virtually local institutions. Nearly always, their continued survival is the result of one or two really heroic individuals who take on the organisation and admin.
In this case, things seem to have been taken too far, leaving us to wonder if this is the closest you could come to a 5-a-side dictatorship. There’s a possibility that this might be tongue-in-cheek, but it’s going to take an awful lot of explaining.
Before we begin, there’s a bit of colourful language used – you’ve been warned.
1. Director of football
‘Director of football’ – could be an early bit of banter in the document. A lot of 5-a-side clubs like to have a bit of fun pretending they’re organised outfits. Sadly, any ideas that this document is there to have a laugh are about to be shattered!
Hopes of this being an elaborate joke are now fading fast. It’s starting to get a little weird, and we’re left wondering what these ‘punishments’ might be.
It might be a way of establishing quality football clubs. It’s also a way for running brutal political regimes.
3. Read the handbook… or else
Red flags are now immediately raised! 3 week suspensions for not reading the handbook??
You can just imagine it… “and now for the team news at Liverpool: Van Dijk will be out for the next 3 weeks for not reading the club handbook”.
4. Reply to messages quickly
Whilst most football organisers will have some sympathy when it comes to people who don’t reply to messages, the rulebook has probably gone completely over the top.
In particular, why is a rule needed about people backdating messages? How does that even work on text or whatsapp? Just for once, we’re wondering if the handbook has been written in response to having the most devious set of players ever. Any sympathy, however, is soon erased with the next message….
5. ‘Terminations for chit chat’
We’ve all been in football whatsapp groups that have gone way off topic. But how badly off topic does a conversation have to go off topic before you write a rule that chit chat is banned completely?!
6. Spot checks
I don’t know about your games, but the most complicated a message for 5-a-side has ever got in ours is: “Game next Thursday, 7pm, bring white top, let me know by tomorrow if you’re in”.
Exactly what within these messages requires a spot check (and knowing this club, that might be in an interrogation with a light shone into their eyes) to check they understood the message?!
7. 32 week bans
Not turning up when you said you would is a serious 5-a-side no-no. But with a sensible set of players, this virtually never happens. Except in the case of when somehting has gone disastrously wrong. They’re usually the sort of incidents where you don’t need to enforce a 32 week ban to let the individual think over their ‘crimes’.
8. Being On Reserve
Not only will the club be banning the player who didn’t turn up for 3 weeks, but they’re banning all of the reserve players if they don’t take their place. They’ll have no players left at this rate!
Even if you’ve made it this far from the handbook and are still considering it, surely the idea of ‘wise footballers who understand the game’ feeling the need to ‘lead’ a casual group of 5-a-side players on the pitch is enough to make you firmly back out.
10. 7 minutes until kick off
This sounds somewhat ceremonial, if a little picky. We’ll allow it.
11. Captain’s Team Talk
Once the ceremonial bib handing, and ball pressuring has occurred, it’s the big teamtalk. Not being there for the teamtalk is clearly a big error. We’d love to hear what one of these talks consists of.
12. Excessive foul and abusive language … is encouraged!
Nevermind the bad vibes from the excessive foul language, it’s the 20-30 second post-mortem that is going to be performed on each and every goal that sounds like this game could end up being the stuff of nightmares! Frightening.
13. Don’t be overly competitive
3 week ban for being overcompetitive? Seems a bit harsh, when you’ve been whipped up into a frenzy with a mandatory ‘captain’s teamtalk’ 5 mins before the game, and face postmortems filled with swearing after each and every goal you concede.
14. Excessive foul and abusive language ….. discouraged
So apparently the only time where you can really let loose is if you’re a captain conducting a postmortem after a goal. Everyone else, be on your best behavior.
15. Captain’s orders
This really is sounding more and more like a dictatorship than a football game.
16. Dress code and muttering
Think your captain has gone way too far with his dictatorial behaviour? Muttering against him will see you in the bin. That should quash any people’s rebelion.
17. Player categorisations
Don’t even know where to start on why there is a need to have to classify players in this way. “Great goal, TudorM22”!
18. Pre-match betting
With all this talk of players wagering on the game, we’re starting to understand perhaps why the other rules are taking this so seriously!
20. Keepy-uppy trials
To join, you need to fill out this survey, which includes how many keepy-uppies you can do in 3 attempts in your back garden (if you don’t have a back garden, bad luck).
Going to have to consider my options…
All in, this is one of the most comprehensive yet strangest football set ups we’ve ever come across.
No doubt there are reasons behind it (and if you’re responsible or you know who is, we’d love to hear your side of things), but this does seem a bit much! The manual does claim that this is a good way to run a club – and it certainly different, you’ve got to give them that – but whether it makes for a fun time, we’re not so sure.
As for Martin, it looks like it’s probably not for him:
All credit for the images used in this post go to Martin @NewAgeBoxingUK