Women, the offside rule and an Aston Villa winner


After the Darren Bent saga, it breaks our hearts to be kind to Aston Villa. But at heart, they’re a decent club with proper fans so Salut! Sunderland rises above petty differences – who is Darren Bent anyway? Lousy first touchy, shockingly wasteful with too many of the chances he gets – to make a special award to a Villa fan …

Regular readers will know that Salut! Sunderland likes Philosophy Football.

They’re hopeless at replying to e-mails but did once put up one of their splendid T-shirts as a prize in our Who are You? awards.

Out of the blue, we’re back in the same territory.

The marvellous specimen* above was offered to us in return for a mention on the site. Done!

And what better recipient could there be than the first female winner in those awards? Step forward the rival supporter who produced, in my entirely arbitrary judgement, the most deserving entry for January: the Villa-following Irish actress Pauline McLynn.

Pauline McLynnDLR Library

There was, as usual, good competition, with supporters of Chelsea, Notts County, Blackpool and – if controversially – Blackburn producing lively answers to our questions. There was even a fine second Villa offering to be considered. Not to mention N**c**t*e U*****, so we won’t.

But Pauline’s responses – see here – were full of wit and honest passion and, since we approached her almost like cold callers trying to sell double glazing, won our great appreciation for being willing to do it at all.

The T-shirt may not be the sort of win that changes your life. But we bet that once we get hold of Pauline’s address and have it sent to her, she’ll treasure it for life. Even though she already knows the offside rule backwards.

* Pauline is now aware of the award and declares herself chuffed. For those who would like to know (and there is a link in the first paragraph to Philosophy Football, this is how the “sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction” describe the T-shirt:

Three figures showing the Assistant Referees’ flag positions for offside with the rulebook definition of the offence and its interpretation. Sleeveprint: ‘Lets kick sexism out of football’ offside.

… Offside: an always controversial decision but none so more than this week when an oafish pair of TV studio so-called experts made the claim that it is gender that determines your knowledge or otherwise of the rule. Our handy design provides the signals of the Assistant Referee as they wave their flag for offside together with the rulebook definition to start the argument. Complete with ‘Lets Kick Sexism out of Football’ campaign logo against dinosaur attitudes to wear on your sleeve. The perfect Valentine’s Gift to reward, or re-educate, your loved one’s attitudes!



Monsieur Salut

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7 thoughts on “Women, the offside rule and an Aston Villa winner”

  1. I would certainly have expected them to be appalled by their incompetence, but have to agree their gender would probably not have been considered. As for their sexualiy, I’d have said the middle aged linesman on the far side was possibly a little Butch to invoke comment from either of them. 🙂

  2. If Gray and Keys had been commentating on the Stoke Sunderland match would they have been questioning the assistant ref’s knowledge of the off side rule or their sexuality?

  3. Brilliant reponses on this thread.

    The “Love the Neighbour” reference raises a poignant issue which is that tolerance and understanding move at a different pace for different socio-economic groups. I can related to Malcolm’s points about only seeing white working class people in his youth. Same goes for me. At the same time as “Love they Neighbour” of course, the BBC were producing “Til Death Us Do Part,” which mocked ignorance and narrow mindedness, at yet which at the same time had xenophobics and other bigot laughing themselves silly due to a complete lack of self awareness. It was also funny for the reasons intended by the producers.

    Narrow mindedness, racism etc is fuelled by a lack of experience or understanding of someone else’s situation and a lack of exposure to cultural and ethnic differences etc, but it all depends on whether people go into new situations with an open or closed mind. Those who embark on new experiences and go into situations with a closed mind seek opportunities to renew of reinforce their previously held view. Those with an open mind are more accepting, usually, and more tolerant. It doesn’t necessarily follow of course that your peers have made the same progression where the perception exists that the “collective mindset” has not changed. Do Messrs Gray and Keys really think that this female official doesn’t know the offside rule? I really doubt that fact. I really doubt that Sian Massey thought that either, and the fact that she has remained dignified and quiet about it is a credit to her.

    Gray made the remark to Keys in private, and their employers have made the decision to take advantage of it. If they thought that they were being funny then it failed in the humour detector, and it begs the question of who was really offended in this instance. There were linesmen yesterday who may not be incapable of undestanding the offside rule, but they were both incapable of enforcing it. (Stoke V SAFC). I dare not say they were blind for fear of offending the RNIB.

  4. It is my understanding that there had been no previous warnings but based on the clearly unacceptable behaviour towards women by these two overblown arrogant self publicists there should have been .

    Whilst I don’t disagree with much of what you say the unacceptability aspect is in the ear of the beholder and certain things which publicly have been jumped on as unacceptable, cause more concern to the minority of those seeking to be politically correct, than those who may be the target of such humour, For instance, racism in this country is very much a one way sword which does not encompass white people.

    The best Jewish jokes, which are brilliant, were written and told by the Jews laughing at themselves. One of the great strengths of the British character has been the ability to laugh in adversity and find humour in almost anything.

    The more telling aspect of this storm in a team cup is the sexual harassment, which seems to have been a normal part of this duo’s lives. Their media compatriots did nothing about this because it is endemic in the business until one the pair actually began suing the Murdock Empire and this storm in a teacup developed into a hurricane. What a coincidence.

    The world of entertainment is debauch at best and this stance IS LITTLE SHORT OF HYPOCRITICAL over what in my opinion was a trivial private comment off air that has been manipulated to THE ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS.

  5. Some good points well made. But I have some questions still about the whole AG/RK business.

    1) Do we know for certain that warnings had not previously been issued?

    I’m no expert in employment legislation but it appears to me strange that the damning video evidence came to light after the verbal comments. Surely if Gray received his first warning for making the comments then something which occurred before that warning, is not admissable as evidence of a failure to correct unacceptable behaviour.

    2) I am sure all those who run the line become used to verbal assults on their parentage, their preferred methods of sexual gratification etc. and by the time one has qualified to officiate at even sixth tier fixture, an official will know whether he or she has the personality to live with that frequent abuse. But does that mean that those in authority should accept it from their employees whether it is meant to be heard or not?

    Personally, on the evidence I have heard so far I don’t feel they should have gone for the comments which have come to light, but I do feel the behaviour of those in authority, or the public eye, have a duty to set standards which will help eliminate prejudice and sterotypes.

    3) The thought police (or politically correct brigade if you prefer) may go OTT at times but haven’t society’s attitudes changed and things which once were considered harmless banter are no longer openly acceptable?

    Things which may have seemed amusing in the days of “Love thy Neighbour” I find shocking and unacceptable these days. Until I left the North East to go to college in the early 1970s I had never met anyone who wasn’t white working class – in fact most of the people I knew were of mining stock. Mixing with people from all parts of the world, people who had been to public school as well as those from London council estates etc. etc. opened my eyes to a wider world. One of the real strengths of the character Gene Hunt in “Life on Mars” was how accurately the writers portrayed the attitudes of the 70s. Today Gene Hunt would be seen as a dinosaur.

    In my opinion those people in a position to reduce prejudice and develop positive attitudes to all members of society must do so. The British press and the current government seem reluctant. Indeed they seem to hell bent on reinforcing stereotypes.
    That’s not to say we shouldn’t be aware of the realities of life and ignore the fact that some religious fundamentalists will use the methods of terrorists, but we should start from the view that most Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims etc. are decent people. And that from an atheist.

    Gray and Keys were stupid but if they had not been warned about their conduct before did not deserve to go in my view. However, I would also be surprised if in their contracts of employment or at least in written policies of Sky Sports, there weren’t clauses about behaviour in the work place.

    Both have been in the media long enough to realise that what they said was stupid. It would be even more stupid if what they said was not banter but a true reflection of their opinion of female officials.

  6. The fact we are still checking if women know the off side rule is to me utter nonsense. It was never about that.

    Surely the point of this whole virago is not whether a female refs assistant knew the offside rule or not. She clearly would not have the job unless she knew the rules. There will also always be a point when a decision taken on the run is subjective depending on the angle of view and obstructions to line of sight.

    What is of far more worrying impact to me is this is yet another example of the thought police interfering in our and indeed the assistant’s lives because two self opinionated ageing plonkers saw fit to make mock of what I and probably they still know as a lines man.

    The crux of this matter is that the lady concerned was not bothered by the clumsy joke at her expense. Quite frankly had she been so it would have been an admission of the complete failure of a woman being capable of existing in a still predominantly male sport. Why do I ague that ? Because male assistant have heavy handed and heart felt criticism from the crowd day in and day out at matches regarding offside decisions and questions as to their parentage or eyesight are rife.

    Many of our fans may not be the most eloquent or rapier like with their humour but that does not diminish their extensive knowledge or appreciation of the game. If a woman waves her pink petticoat shouting foul the minute she receives touchline verbal flack she has lost the plot and indeed demonstrated she is not suited to the role that she has taken on because it is a physical impossibility for those in static locations to perceive the game in the same way she as a mobile adjudicator views an incident.

    What has been even worse is that the incident in question was a private Joking comment by two Neanderthals off air which was purportedly leaked by a member of the apparently anal politically correct brigade, who any right minded fan of football would not allow within 100 yards of their company, in the normal world.

    I am not anti women in sport in any capacity indeed if one were sufficiently talented I would not be bothered if she were playing with a predominantly male team after all it is not so long ago the thought of a homosexual on the pitch would have created a scandal.

    It is the way that the media luvvies have blown this up and two men have lost their jobs when a quiet word in their ears and a warning would have sufficed.

    Banter and ribald abuse is part of the game I well remember at an England Wales match a WELSH HOWL AS OUR WINGER RACED UP THE LINE. TAKE HIM OUT ACKERMAN TAKE HIM OUT.

    We responded Ackerman couldn’t take out a fairy.

    The response was witty and immediate “Oh I don’t know” said a laughing Welshman.

    The thought police should leave our humour alone they may drive it underground but they will never win and our lady linesman is no wilting flower she has far more balls than the Sky executives purporting to protect her honour for their own means

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