BROWNE ON THE BALL: Credit belongs to the man in the arena

Marc Newsham.
Marc Newsham.

He had the match ball in one hand, a bottle of Champagne in the other and a broad smile across his face.

Marc Newsham had just scored his first league hat-trick as Boston United right royally thumped county rivals Gainsborough Trinity 6-0 to cement their place in the Skrill North’s top five.

After he had posed for those man-of-the-match photos and dutifully carried out his press interviews Newsham headed down the tunnel. He was undoubtedly, as he so often is, the man of the moment.

In those spare minutes in between interviews on Saturday afternoons I like to have a quick look through my Twitter timeline, to compare player and fan reactions to the contest we’ve all just witnessed.

And one thing which struck me this weekend was the amount of people who shared the same point: if only Ricky Miller had taken the penalty on Tuesday.

Newsham completed his treble in the 86th minute with a neat finish, but the forward could well have earned himself the matchball comfortably inside the first half had he stepped up to take the spot kick.

But instead it was Miller who drilled home from 12 yards after Newsham was relieved of the duty in the build-up to kick off.

The reason? Because four days earlier the forward had seen his penalty pushed away by Stockport County stopper Ian Ormson.

The match finished 0-0, but had Newsham converted Boston my have won, they may well be two places higher up in the standings.

Newsham has had a strange relationship with spot kicks recently. Three of his five penalties this season have been saved while Miller (two), Ian Ross and Spencer Weir-Daley have a 100 per cent conversion rate between them.

In total, five of his penalties in the past 18 months have failed to find the net, with two of those (against Bradford Park Avenue and AFC Telford United) seeing the club miss out on opportunities to pull level in stoppage time.

I can understand the frustration when you travel the country, only to spend the return journey thinking what might have been.

But I don’t for a second think Newsham should be blamed. All five of those penalties were on target, each one of them saved. Had each keeper guessed incorrectly then I would be writing a different column.

And secondly, at least he had the balls to stand up and be counted.

Newsham’s relationship with penalties reminds me of The Man in the Arena, part of a speech given by former USA President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

“It is not the critic who counts,” it begins. “Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat... who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error.

“If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Indeed, sometimes Newsham has failed, but show me a sportsman - a true great or a Sunday parks player - who never has. And besides, every minor stumble has been followed by two powerful strides forward, just as this week has shown.

It is easy to criticise. But it really should be much harder to sneer at a man who has scored 106 goals for a club in 212 appearances, whose goals just set the tone for a memorable derby day thrashing and who was one of the stand-out performers on the last occasion this club won promotion.

It would be ridiculous to dwell on the bad when it is outweighed by the good.

And that’s why every sip of that Champagne Marc Newsham takes deserves to taste very sweet indeed.