BROWNE ON THE BALL: They think it’s all over, but you should always play to the whistle

Carl Piergianni heads clear during Boston's draw at Barrow.
Carl Piergianni heads clear during Boston's draw at Barrow.

That 45-minute wait just to get to the tube station after a match at Wembley. The car park at Elland Road. Having to navigate your way through the slow-walking hordes roaming those narrow streets outside of Craven Cottage. Having your windows bricked at the KC Stadium.

There are four good enough reasons why I can almost sympathise with people who decide to leave a football match early.

I say almost, because - despite the frustrations of being penned in by police horses, sitting in a car attempting to nudge your way to freedom or driving home with an ice-cold breeze hitting you - I have never seen the point in not staying until the end. Even if you’re 5-0 down to a side bottom of the league.

Yes, you may have dodged the crowds and hit the motorway quicker, perhaps you snuck in that extra pint.

But for me there would always be that nagging fear that you’ve missed a major event - a worldie of a goal, a red card, the ref being struck in the face with the ball.

I once laughed in the face of a man who told me he was in Barcelona for Manchester United’s historic Champions League victory over Bayern Munich in 1999.

Dejected, he had left the ground with five minutes remaining. It was only later on that he discovered he missed Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turning the game on its head. He missed what he had travelled in hope of seeing. He also missed the cup presentation.

If that wasn’t enough then the stories of Manchester City fans being allowed back into the Etihad Stadium after walking away before Sergio Aguero had won his team the Premier League title in stoppage time should have been warning enough.

But it wasn’t for one mate of mine who made the long trek to Barrow and back on Saturday.

This person - who shall remain nameless - manged to do a double.

He nipped off for a pint at the end of each half.

Firstly, he missed Gareth Arnison putting the Bluebirds in front at the end of the opening 45 minutes.

Secondly, he headed off to the bar as the Pilgrims trailed 4-2 with just moments remaining.

Fortunately, he got to the window in time to see Ricky Miller rifle home from the penalty spot.

Sadly, he missed the same player’s strike seconds earlier and it wasn’t until he sat talking to some disgruntled Barrow fans much later that he realised his side hadn’t lost 4-3 after all.

A football match is never over until the final whistle.

Often just one instant can turn a game on its head.

Fortunately for them, Boston United realised that this week and fought to the death - their refusal to give up seeing them salvage a point which appeared all but impossible.

It’s moments like that which make the sport so thrilling, so tense.

All I can say is that I bet those who stayed until the end were glad they did.

You’d have to be a right plonker to leave a game early.