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The Diving Bell

By James Lauwervine :  19/01/2011 :  Comments (32) :
It?s been a long time since I?ve written an article for this site, I think getting on for 10 years! The last time I wrote something there was no discussion facility, and that?s probably put me off since ? yes, I know that?s pathetic. I make some comments on others? articles here and there and take my hat off to anyone who makes a genuine and worthwhile contribution to the site and to the discussions (I don?t include myself here ? although the idea of taking your hat off to yourself is idiotic anyway).

I don?t get to many matches nowadays, living in the footballing wilderness that is Oxfordshire, but I?m going to the West Ham game this weekend with my three young sons, who I have brought up to strong, if remote, Evertonians. Incidentally, the amount of Liverpool fans round here (adult and child) is both alarming and sickening.

A good blue friend of mine called Mike once wrote a book (unpublished) called Old Trafford Sainsburys ? he hates Man Utd more than Liverpool and always has. I?m talking 20 years back, where he forecast the trajectory of football towards an industry akin to that of supermarkets. You decide whether he had a point. More amusingly though, he told a story in that book about a Jim?ll Fix It episode where some deluded juvenile tit asked the white-haired madman if he could score a goal at Old Trafford (empty stadium of course). Bobby Charlton was (and indeed still is) the Man Utd PR vehicle so he was the celebrity guide for the youngster to fulfil his dream. Problem was that he turned it into a Man Utd advert, which would have been part of the deal of course.

This was back in the day when Man Utd were crap incidentally, always the media darlings and tipped for big things soon, but consistently failing. The specific moment that so irritated Mike was when Charlton stood, as part of the slot, and gazed wonderingly during a 360 pan of the stadium whilst stating ?It?s the theatre of dreams, the greatest stadium in the world?. How many fucking young people did that influence?

Mike?s argument was that this should, in a similar vein to party political broadcasts, have carried a message along the foot of the screen saying ?This is the view of an ex-Man Utd player and someone who is on the payroll of Man Utd. Young people in particular are cautioned to view other stadia and football teams, particularly in the proximity of where they live, before deciding if they should accept this statement?. Parents would have probably had to explain the meaning of all that admittedly.

Anyway, all of that is irrelevant really to the point of me doing this. The reason I?ve decided to put something out there is mainly to try to distract us all from the incessant arguments about the team, the manager, the chairman, the finances and the bleeding results ? which are the only things that actually matter of course. I hope to do this by highlighting that still controversial and potentially result-changing issue of diving (I refuse to use the ?s? word) and to relate that in a potentially unreasonable way to the two recent subtractions from our squad.

My 12-year-old boy got the DVD of the Rapid Vienna game as a Christmas prezzy from his grandad and I watched the entire game for the first time since the event itself a couple of nights ago. Bloody hell! I hadn?t realised how footy was so different then, still of course based on the same principles, but a very different game to watch. I should explain that I have never really watched any of the 80s matches in full, except when I was there myself as a youngster.

What struck me more than anything (except perhaps the backpasses) was the referee?s decision making. I counted about 30 incidents in the game that would nowadays have been without doubt a free kick. Contact was allowed! Nowadays, every piece of contact (or potential contact) seems to require a decision from the referee. Decisions that he will inevitably often get wrong as many players continuously try to con him. I didn?t see one instance of that in the Rapid Vienna game.

Anyway, the problem for me is that there have been too many incidences in recent years of Everton players getting in on this conning the referee act. And the Yak and Pienaar were undoubtedly two of the main culprits. The Yak has embarrassed me on so many occasions as he wasn?t just a diver, he was a rubbish diver. He almost never got the decisions when he went down, the referees would just ignore him. Really they should have been either saying to him ?That was crap, don?t do it again? or booking him. This leads to honest players also not getting decisions when they are genuinely fouled. I can?t remember the exact incident, but there was one with Bainesy not so long ago that had me screaming.

There?s no such thing as being ?entitled to go down?. It?s cheating and I hate it. It makes me cringe and turn away when I see one of our players doing it. For me it takes the edge off a goal if it comes from a free-kick or pen that a player dived to get. The idiot pundits on MotD excuse it week after week. I see players in my 12-year-old?s team starting to do it and it makes me sick. Play an honest game and hold your heads high, it doesn?t have to be this way. What happened to yellow cards for diving anyway? If a player goes down and raises his hands claiming foul and the ref doesn?t give it, then he?s essentially accusing the player of diving. Book him then!

Here?s my assessment of our current squad?s dive factor:

Howard ? diver, well he is a goalie.
Hibbo ? not a diver
Jags ? not a diver
Distin ? not a diver
Neville ? not a diver
Bainsey ? not a diver
Heitinga ? probably not a diver but ?
Arteta ? diver (sorry, I love the man but he goes down too easily)
Rodwell ? not a diver (please don?t become one)
Bily ? gets the benefit of my doubt
Ossie ? not a diver
Coleman ? not a diver
Fellaini ? just about not a diver

Now the tricky bit:

Saha ? more diver than not
Beckford ? not a diver that I?ve noticed
Vaughan ? I don?t think he?s a diver, haven?t seen enough of him lately to judge
Anichebe ? diver, taught by Yak it would appear
Gueye ? didn?t dive in the 10 minutes of play he?s had this season

Of course it gets harder when you move up the pitch as players there get tackled more, but Bainsey is an example of an honest attacking player (yes I know he?s a defender but he attacks a lot) who is as honest as the day is long and would never go down unless forced to. Have you worked out that he?s my favourite player yet by the way?

Just to confirm:

Yak ? diver and very bad at it
Pienaar ? dives every time someone looks at him, then fiddles with his socks whilst he has a little sit down.

Oh and as an aside? Gerrard ? biggest fucking cheating diving bastard on earth.

No doubt there will be many that disagree with my assessments. I?m sort of running out of energy with this now and haven?t really made the points I intended but perhaps it?ll open a discussion. I do think referees should clamp down on it, as they should with dissent ? particularly with that fat sweaty bald Manc scouser I once loved.

Reader Comments

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Brian Waring
1   Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:26:07

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This might sound stupid, but I actually think kids are taught to dive from an early age.

My little lad plays in a U12s team, and was involved in a game last season, were an opposing player went down as if he had been hit by Tyson, got up when the pen was given (it wasn't a pen by the way), looked over to the sideline, gave the manager a thumbs up, the manager then gives him a thumbs up back, the manager turns to the lad next to him, and says "That's how to win a pen"... Justice for me, was that we went on to beat them 11 - 3.

When the kids are seeing players diving on the tele, they think its okay, sad really.
Ian Tunstead
2   Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:35:53

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It?s a tough one James, yes it is cheating by diving but isn?t the opposing player who is consistently fouling our best skilful and most talented and entertaining players cheating as well trying to stop them playing and break up the teams rhythm. I know too wrongs don?t make a right. But the likes of Arteta and Pienaar are two very small players who at times don?t get enough protection from the referees and so have to give them a little nudge to get a decision. If Arteta didn?t go to ground so easily and allowed himself to take the full force of some of the challenges on him it could lead to a lot more injurys. If you are kicked sometimes it is best to take the wait off your standing leg and go to ground.

As you say the game has changed, it has evolved and players have had to adapt, to not only get a decision from the ref which will help the team but might also prolong the players career in the long term. Going to ground easy his become part of the game and is a skill in its self. Some players are good at it like Arteta and some crap at it like Yakubu.
David Hallwood
3   Posted 19/01/2011 at 18:52:38

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Talk about a game of two halves, james this was the post of two halves! I'll comment on the first point; If my memory serves me well, when we won the league in 1985, Man U started off by winning 7 or 8 games (or even more) games on the trot, and the Mirror, had a headline, Give them the title, and Granada Reports had two smirkin bitter manc bastards, Tony Wilson & Bob Greaves that would play down Liverpool or Everton, a bit tough in those days, and take every chance to big up Man U.

I remember when we did the league & cup winners cup double in 1985, and Granada had a live program of Man U coming back with the cup! I often wonder if we had beaten them, would they have shown our victory parade with 3 trophies.

Always have been media darlings

Larry Boner
4   Posted 19/01/2011 at 20:47:05

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Amazing really, that someone can go through the whole Everton squad and say who is a diver and who is not, but we still have not been awarded a penalty all season, a season or two ago we went to the last game of the season before being awarded one.

I don't think I have ever seen Arteta win a penalty for us, certainly not by diving, the only recent dive I can remember was Hibbert's and I think that was him just fainting because he was in the opposition box.

if you want to see outright promotion of a football club by a supposed neutral body, you only have to look at the 5 minute "advert" for Liverpool and Dalglish before the Derby game, truly sickening.

Also. why are Liverpool always referred to as Liverpool Football Club, as if they invented the game, when Everton are Everton, Chelsea are just Chelsea, Arsenal just Arsenal, they are all football clubs.

Nick Entwistle
5   Posted 19/01/2011 at 20:58:39

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Great post. Everton I'd think do the least amount of diving in the PL, which really helps maintain my support in these days of Sky. But then which teams do the most diving? Sky favoured teams. The Refs have zero balls when players go down cheating, as some are more equal than others.
Peter Warren
6   Posted 19/01/2011 at 21:32:38

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Nice article... whilst I tend to agree, I'd be a hypocrite as Limpar ? a player I adored in 1994 1995 1996 ? thankfully dived and won a penalty in the first half of that Wimbledon game.

A queston for you, James: Are you sorry he dived ?
Peter Bourke
7   Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:02:52

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Good article James but you didn't asses Tim Cahill??
I'll do it for you....Not a Diver.
John Ford
8   Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:31:54

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I hate cheating, maybe thats naive but Id rather players openly kicked chunks out of each other. Diving is depresssing, and is one of the reasons the game isnt as good to watch as it once was.
Liam Kennedy
9   Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:33:04

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Funny one this, me and a few friends were talking about this at work the other night and we came up with a couple of ideas.

Make the refs similar to those in rugby, give them mics so we can hear what they are saying and make them harsh. If the players backchat after a decision is made move the ball ten yards closer to the goal. If a player swears give him a yellow card, it would be a sharp learning curve but they would learn quick.

Bring in an honesty system for divers. When a player goes down the ref asks him if he dived. If the player says no and after the game the cameras show he did ban him for 3 games. Managers would soon be telling players not to dive.

Marc Williams
10   Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:42:30

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Bill Kenwright ..... A Diver !

Oh no my mistake, he's not diving just sinking.... in a sea of debt, lies & incompetence. Reaching new depths of embarassment for our club with each new transfer window.

Fan overboard!
Denis Richardson
11   Posted 19/01/2011 at 22:56:00

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Liam - I seem to remember them trying the mic with the ref thing back in the days of Tony Adams and Paul Ince. Problem was the language was so bad that they had to switch them off otherwise they could not broadcast.

A lot of the 'C' word being used let alone F and S.....and these were directed at the refs. I.e.you 'F' 'C' and you blind 'B'!

I think the refs should be allowed to book players for swearing at them. You only need to lip read on the TV to work out that the players are not saying 'are your sure?' when they get a decision against them.

On the diving note - personally I think the things can be taken care of pretty easily if only the refs got some balls. Just book a player whenever you think he dived. You may end up booking a couple of players that were genuinely fowled but if the players thought there was a zero tolerance, they would stop doing it.

The whole game has double standards. Babel gets fined for saying the ref is shite on twitter and on the same day Walcott admits to diving to get a pen and the FA does absolutely nothing about it. He even says he laughed about it with the ref after the game!
Dick Fearon
12   Posted 19/01/2011 at 23:33:24

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James, your article had enough talking points for half a dozen different topics.

Briefly a few of my own comments starting with Larry #4, the RS have the word football tacked onto its title as the only way to differentiate it from Liverpool dog pound, Liverpool sewage works etc.

Nick #5 and Denis #11, Foul & abusive language is still an offence. Referees cannot give a Yellow card for it.

He can only give a verbal warning or a mandatory Red card.

Marc #10, How did did BK get into this topic?

Roman Sidey
13   Posted 20/01/2011 at 02:53:59

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Dick Fearon, BK is relevant in any topic discussed about Everton as he is the chairman and majority shareholder of the club. Everything that happens at Everton is essentially down to him. Therefore, whatever we talk about, he can be brought in.
Peter Bourke
14   Posted 20/01/2011 at 03:12:41

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Nice to know who makes the rules on Toffee Web.
It's Roman.
Andy McNabb
15   Posted 20/01/2011 at 03:36:31

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Good article, James. Can only agree with your sentiments about diving.

I remember one of my favourite players, The Rat severely embarrassing me a few years ago when Vinny of Wimbledon fame touched foreheads with him and the Rat went down as if the proverbial sniper in the crowd had taken him out.

Peter Warren - I don't condone the dive that Limpar took but from where I was sitting in the Bullens down at the other end, when I saw the challenge, I wondered if Anders would ever be able to play again. Rose tinted spectacles, I suppose but a classic example of how good players are at the whole thing.

Even my Kopite brother thinks it wasn't a pen in the last derby but the lack of accountability afterwards makes the whole thing academic. I can't stand Aussie Rules but at least over here they have a video tribunal which is very busy after every round of matches, making sure that decisions are the correct ones. Having said that, of course, you can kill someone in Aussie Rules and still stay on the pitch for the rest of the game.

I think diving is the one big obstacle to 'soccer' over here. They think we're a bunch of big girls and softies the way we roll round the place. In my indoor 5 a side league we quite often come up against teams of AFL players who are just taking part to keep themselves fit in the close season. Low on skill but they really make their presence felt. It we are going to dive, then they make sure we have something to dive about!
Eric Myles
16   Posted 20/01/2011 at 02:54:05

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Agree on Anichebe, he goes down far too easily, and it was embarrassing when he did it in the derby game.
Christine Foster
17   Posted 20/01/2011 at 04:35:55

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Some really good points James, I remember sitting waiting watching a Blue Square game on Setanta (I think) and quite enjoying it because of the pyhsical contact that was allowed. It was the same for some of the Championship games as well ( perhaps this is why its so hard for premier clubs to rebound after relegation!)

There appears to be a total ban on any physical contact in the Premiership and thats really stupid. Football is a contact sport but the game at the top level has been sanitised to the point of sterility.

If we know when a player has dived then so does a ref. But its worse than that, if a player falls under pressure outside the box, 99 times out of a hundred its blown as a foul. Conversly if the player goes down in the box under pressure its hardly ever given! So whats the score here guys?

FIFA has to take the blame for this, no one else. Do I think it protects the great players? No.. not a bit. Does it improve the game from a fans perspective? No.. sorry I don't think so..

Does it make it more exciting? No.. no passion..stop start..

What we have is a version of touch rugby.. next thing will be a definition of a tackle is removed from the rule book...
James Lauwervine
18   Posted 20/01/2011 at 08:02:41

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Thanks all for your comments, though to be honest I expected more challenges to my assessment of the squad.

Peter #6, I knew someone would find a challenging example and yours is probably the best. However, Andy #15 has done a decent job of answering that so I'll leave it there.

Marc #10, your comment made me laugh. It's makes me wonder whether I should have assessed Moysey too - no, I'm getting into the area I was hoping to distract us all from!

Peter #7, I don't know why I left TC out, I remember thinking about him and rapidly coming to the same conclusion as you.

Marc Williams
19   Posted 20/01/2011 at 09:06:39

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Dick Fearon 12# ..... It's just my stab at humour, using a play on words diver/diving in a vain attempt to be funny. Sorry it passed you by .... I'll get my flippers !

Roman Sidey 13 # Quite right, I don't see why any thread on any topic can't be used to take the piss out of those mis-managing our club.

James Lauwervine 18# This diving index of yours may help solve a mystery about another player you didn't mention ... Mucha
Perhaps he can't dive & this explains why he doesn't get a game, no matter how many mistakes Howard makes this season.
Gavin Ramejkis
20   Posted 20/01/2011 at 10:18:59

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Do a search on Youtube for Gerrard hypocrite and watch those dives for classic examples. I'm amazed he has gotten away with them for years as his technique includes turning his feet penguin like outwards followed by a platoon like arched back and raised arms swan dive. The video shows some howlers where opposition players didn't even touch him. Dirty scumbag.
Ray Robinson
21   Posted 20/01/2011 at 11:26:11

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James, I'd disagree with your assessment of Beckford. I think he has shown on a number of occasions an embarrassing tendency to dive.

Yakubu has to be the most cringeworthy diver though - they are so blatantly obvious. Unless there is a sudden shift of pies within his digestive system that causes him to lose equilibrium, of course.

Diving - the scourge of the modern game, along with dissent and keeping the ball near the corner flag to waste time.
Dave Wilson
22   Posted 20/01/2011 at 12:11:48

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Come on Ray

Taking the ball to the corner flag is hardly a new thing. You must remember Moggsy doing it . . .mind you he did add a little humour by checking his imaginary watch as he did it
Ray Robinson
23   Posted 20/01/2011 at 12:24:21

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Still don't like it Dave. When I was playing and anyone did tha against ust, it was guaranteed to bring the red mist down and almost became a legitimate excuse to hack someone's shins!
Gavin Ramejkis
24   Posted 20/01/2011 at 13:33:04

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Ray, that brought back a funny memory, years ago I was playing and some lad had the ball in the corner where I was the right back, after what seemed and eternity of shielding the ball on the touchline I gave give a swift knee up the arse and got carded, the free kick went nowhere and we still lost the game but the look on his face was priceless as he lifted off the ground.
Larry Boner
25   Posted 20/01/2011 at 15:04:55

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Greatest ever holding the ball by the corner flag, Jimmy Gabriel in the 66 FA Cup Final, surrounded by hoards of Evertonians, raises his arms with the biggest grin you have ever seen.
I was 15 years old, only a few yards away from him, best memory of that Final for me as he was my favourite player, along with Chico and Alex.
Andrew Ellams
26   Posted 20/01/2011 at 15:35:09

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James, I have the video of the second leg of the semi against Bayern Munich. If it was played now it would be 5 a side by half time.

Great pictures of Reidy playing on with blood pouring out of a stud sized whole in his shin. Their goalie actually complained after the game that Everton had been over physical and Sharp and Gray had roughed him up at every set piece.
Andrew Laird
27   Posted 20/01/2011 at 15:51:01

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When I was a 12/13 year old (1992) my football team toured Holland and Belgium and as we were quite good (we won a national tourny at Ipswich Town) we won a friendly with PSV youths who were 1 or 2 years younger than us. As we arrived on the bus we could see the various youth teams training including an area away from the football and running quadrants containing youngsters who were being taught how to "fall" safely. Basically by turning there body and rolling on to their shoulder when they reached the ground. They were a lot younger than I was at the time (maybe 8/9 years old) but we were all astonished. Maybe they were ahead of their time?. If it is coached in to them at such an early age it's no wonder really.

If someone had the foresight to ban divers after the game if it was missed then you might make them think twice about doing it, sadly it is widely condoned by family friendly prats who masquarade as football "experts"
jim burns
28   Posted 20/01/2011 at 17:23:12

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Ray @21....have to disagree mate. I was in the Anfield Road End at the derby and still can't believe how well Beckford kept his feet - just - to score our second, and put the fear of God into that shower of skin crawling sycophants. 99 out of 100 other players would have gone down - he only had one thought in his head and it bodes well for us.
jim burns
29   Posted 20/01/2011 at 17:27:47

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Taking about diving and derbies...a memory has just popped back into my befuddled brain - one of games at Anfield again, when Dagleish was still playing, and we had John ' funnyman' Bailey at full back. The 'messiah' had a nauseating habit of turning his body to shield the ball from a would be tackle, sticking his arse out at the same time. He did this in the box at The Anfield Road end, in the area, with Bailey in close attendance immediately behind him. The plan was to fall over, immediately he felt the contact from behind, sticking his back end out to increase the chances of cheating the penalty.

John boy, however had read the script, and at the exact point that Dalgleish was about to dive, he stepped smartly away leaving at least a few feet of daylight between him and the actor. Dagleish then did his dying swan act - pushed over by the invisible man, and when the referee waved play on, proceeded to chase him, red faced and screaming his protest, while Bailey turned to us blues behind the goal, shrugged and grinned a grin that was priceless to see.

I wondered on Sunday, whether one of the more unsavoury chants aimed at Mr Dalgleish, had its roots in this incident. Or is that just legend being born from fact - distorted by the mists of time. Perhaps others who may have been there that day have some memory of that priceless moment.
Ray Robinson
30   Posted 20/01/2011 at 18:46:54

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Jim @28. Agree re the Derby incident but from where I sit in the Park End, I've seen at least 3 dives by Beckford this season!
James Lauwervine
31   Posted 21/01/2011 at 00:12:58

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Gavin #20 you once challenged me to post instead of whinging, so I guess I've done that, albeit on a totally separate topic. Your comment in this thread led me to a session on this theme on YouTube that was both hilarious and soul destroying - but thanks anyway :)
Gavin Ramejkis
32   Posted 22/01/2011 at 19:05:10

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James, that youtube video is cringeworthy, I honestly can't believe people could defend some of his dives, a good post by the way, sadly the game has evolved into a mess of cheating.

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