Soccer saints turn sinners

Milton Lindsay Newsman Celtic have blotted their squeaky-clean disciplinary copybook but have still been praised for clocking up one of the best records in Norfolk football.

Milton Lindsay

Newsman Celtic have blotted their squeaky-clean disciplinary copybook but have still been praised for clocking up one of the best records in Norfolk football.

A yellow card picked up in a game a fortnight ago was the team's first in a league or cup match for almost three years, a period in which they played over 60 games.

Richard King, Norfolk County FA's head of disciplinary affairs, said the trouble-free sequence was without parallel and had to be applauded.


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“It has to be commended - it is so easy to pick up a caution these days,” he said.

Midfielder Ryan Mills, a relatively new signing, was the offender, picking up a yellow card after a late tackle in the 3-1 defeat by Norman Wanderers on September 14. The last caution prior to that came during a match on October 16, 2005.

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“I have been doing this job for 14 years and it's a really exceptional record to have in the modern football era,” said King. “Out of 7,000 cautions a year you normally have over 4,000 for unsporting behaviour.”

Last season Newsman Celtic were the only club out of 500 adult clubs in Norfolk not to pick up a caution of any kind, a feat which warranted a special mention in dispatches when reports were discussed at County FA HQ.

The season before that they also kept a clean sheet along with Colkirk from the Central and South Norfolk Saturday League and Robin Hood from the Crusader Sunday League.

Last season Newsman won only four league games as they finished second from bottom of Division 2a and were relegated to Division 3a. This season the prospects look brighter for the Eaton Park-based outfit who have won three out of five league games so far.

Commenting on the disciplinary record, player-manager Matt Ware said: “It's not something we set out to achieve. We're not like Corinthian Casuals - we don't play to a fixed code of conduct.”

He described the team's style of play as hard but fair.

“We don't want to give the impression that we are soft touches. I certainly think we tackle as hard and have got a similar number of hard players as any other Sunday team. We always try to win the ball and not injure the man and we like to chat to the referees in a friendly way. It helps if you can establish a rapport.”

He said the trouble-free record had become quite a talking point within the club.

“Over the last two years it has been mentioned at the Sunday League annual meeting and our representative has had to stand up and take the applause.”

He added: “When Ryan got booked he received a round of ironic applause followed by some grief afterwards for spoiling the record.”

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