BROWNE ON THE BALL: Nine-man Boston United were hard done by, but they didn’t help themselves

Ben Fairclough.
Ben Fairclough.

There are some footballers so seemingly fuelled with rage that they could start a fight in an empty room.

Vinnie Jones was one. Danny Mills was another.

And then there was Roy Keane, a man so hot-headed that, if Gandhi were a football fan, he’d be clenching his fist and spitting profanities at the television.

The game also has its fair share of hard men. Those players who run the risk of a red card due to the uncompromising way they played the game.

Boston’s Micky Nuttell and Drewe Broughton spring to mind.

Two players that fall into neither category are Ben Fairclough and Spencer Weir-Daley.

Perhaps that is why Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Altrincham was so hard to take for many fans.

Two laid-back lads who hadn’t earned a red card between them in a combined 151 appearances for the club are not the ones you’d expect to be in the showers first... and definitely not in the same game.

After Saturday’s defeat, Lee said he would review the match video before deciding whether to appeal Adrian Holmes’ decisions.

Having now seen the video, I’m sure he knows the Pilgrims would be laughed out of FA headquarters.

The manager has previously referred to Fairclough as ‘big, bad Ben’ with a smirk on his face, after a rash challenge or two saw him pick up a yellow card.

Once or twice this season, the most memorable being at Tadcaster Albion in the previous round, Fairclough has ridden his luck.

But not on Saturday.

Both Lee and Marc Newsham have suggested that, with just 12 minutes played, Fairclough could probably have escaped with a booking.

Some officials don’t want to be blamed for ruining a game early on and duck out of a red card or penalty decision in the opening exchanges.

Holmes bravely did the opposite.

Goals don’t count as half if they happen early on, so neither should offences.

On this occasion the ref took a stance.

I’m not saying he got it right, but he didn’t get it wrong.

I didn’t see Weir-Daley’s clash.

Perhaps Holmes didn’t see it all.

But he saw enough to decide the player’s match was at an end, even if Jake Moult’s reaction was over the top.

Both players have every right to feel hard done by.

Neither are thugs or cheats, but both were guilty of giving the ref enough of a reason to justify a red card.

Quite simply, you don’t fly in like that and you don’t go head-to-head.

These two have been around the game long enough to know that.

Their judgements helped cost the club £12,500 in prize money.

Their presence will be missed in tough matches against Gainsborough and Guiseley, plus the FA Trophy.

To paraphrase The Life of Brian. They’re not Vinnie Jones, they’re just very silly boys.