The beautiful game has provided us with many strange incidents over the years.
Pitch invasions by animals and fans - or both, political protesters chaining themselves to the goal posts, power outages, player deaths and heart attacks and lightning strikes to name just a few.
Add Saturday’s English Premier League game between Southampton and Newcastle to the list. For the comical or bizarre, this one topped them all.
The closing minutes of the heated match saw referee Mike Jones receive treatment for a suspected broken nose after being smashed in the face by Newcastle’s Moussa Sissoko after a push by Saints’ netminder Paolo Gazzaniga.
While the two players struggled and pushed each other, Sissoko’s fist came up and hit Jones right in the kisser. Jones immediately fell to the ground and required treatment for his injury, finishing the match with cotton swabs stuck up his nose to stop the bleeding.
Newcastle fans held their collective breath, expecting Jones to reach for his pocket and rightfully show red to Sissoko or at the very least a yellow card.
But again more EPL Disbelief! Shock!
Nothing from Jones, no card, no warning and not even a disparaging glance at Sissoko.
Stiff upper lip…er fat upper lip - that is - and busted nose.
You be the judge – did Sissoko deserve to go? We think so. Check out this Youtube post of the incident:
Jones just sucked it up, chived on and refused to issue any sort of caution to Sissoko.
Could it be that the blow to his head caused him to momentarily lose his superior sense of judgement?
Jones reaction to Sissoko reminds me of comedian Eric Idle and his portrayal of the cyclist in the movie National Lampoon’s European Vacation. Idle’s character gets run over by bumbling Clark Griswald but instead of being enraged apologizes to Griswald. With bruises, ripped pants and a bloodied leg Idle declares: “I’ll be right as rain in the morning. The cup final isn’t until Sunday.”
While it was noble of the referee not to bring his own personal misfortune into impacting the outcome of the match, one of his assistants should have provided Jones with some better advice before play resumed.
Not only was the behaviour of both players a bookable offence for their unsportsmanlike conduct, smashing a referee in the face – accidental or not – should have been an automatic dismissal and suspension for Sissoko.
There is also some debate to the widely held claim that Sissoko’s actions were completely unintentional.
Moments later Jones had something bigger to worry about as the game threatened to spiral out of control. The freshly-smacked referee, was called into action once more and finally delivered some cards when a scuffle broke out between the coaching staff and players of both teams on the sidelines.
The 1-1 draw was highly entertaining but the brawl provided us with something we might expect to see take place when a referee in the National Hockey League or National Football League breaks up a fight between two players, but not in a Barclay’s Premiership match.
It’s a guarantee that 95 per cent of the people watching the match - even Newcastle fans themselves - expected Sissoko to go off for his actions.
The Football Association announced on Sunday it would investigate the sideline scuffle - but we can’t help but wonder if the F.A. will deliver its own discipline to Sissoko and possibly even Jones himself for accepting it all.
Maybe you have a soft spot for Jones but please take the time to vote in our poll for the EPL’s worst referee:
FINAL RESULTS FOR WORST REFEREE IN THE ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE POLL (Final votes tabulated on May 20, 2014)
- Roger East (1%, 11 Votes)
- Michael Oliver (2%, 17 Votes)
- Jonathan Moss (2%, 17 Votes)
- Neil Swarbrick (2%, 19 Votes)
- Mike Jones (4%, 36 Votes)
- Lee Mason (5%, 42 Votes)
- Martin Atkinson (6%, 51 Votes)
- Kevin Friend (8%, 65 Votes)
- Phil Dowd (9%, 80 Votes)
- Chris Foy (10%, 83 Votes)
- Lee Probert (10%, 84 Votes)
- Anthony Taylor (14%, 119 Votes)
- Andre Marriner (14%, 120 Votes)
- Mike Dean (14%, 122 Votes)
- Mark Clattenburg (17%, 143 Votes)
- Howard Webb (35%, 298 Votes)
Total Voters: 863