Safety first – and now you can see the difference between rugger and that other game

"After this gig, I have a test match to referee."

Ha! Alf’s jaundiced view of soccer has been thoroughly fortified by the referee who called off a New Zealand secondary schools premier football match.

The ref’s reason for this extreme action was that he felt it was unsafe for a player to wear spectacles, even though they were specially made for football.

And so the game between Napier Boys’ High School and Wakatipu High School (Otago) in Napier was abandoned even before it started.

Officials awarded Wakatipu a 2-0 win and NBHS was relegated from the top 16 play-offs to a lower tier where they can finish 17th at best.

Napier lodged an appeal against the abandonment but lost.

The kid has worn his glasses for other games.

So far as we know, he has come to no harm.

As the Herald explains –

Midfielder Leslie Taylor, 16, has been playing soccer with glasses on for the past decade. The NBHS fifth-former said a Napier optometrist had designed a custom-made pair for him to wear for sport.

“I got them made four months ago,” said Taylor, who wears glasses as an inter-city representative cricketer as well, although he dons a helmet when batting.

“The ball has hit me on the face many times before and dented the frame but it never broke.”

This Taylor kid is reported to have been distraught about the referee’s ruling, which is understandable, although the incident should open his eyes to the namby-pamby nature of the game he is playing.

It seems he has played for the Napier City Rovers first division men’s team and various Hawkes Bay age-group teams over the years.

In a game against Shirley Boys’ High, of Christchurch, he played without his glasses.

“I was pretty gutted because I couldn’t see the ball properly and my eyes started to hurt,” he said after the sides were locked 0-0 before succumbing 8-7 in a penalty shootout.

Did he fail to see the net on that critical occasion? Or maybe he booted the ball into the wrong net.

Alas, the Herald report short-changes us on that point or the fate of his penalty kick.

Alf’s constituents are well aware of the big difference between rugger and soccer.

One is a game for he-men who don’t need glasses to do what a man has to do.

Hence the expression “the blind side”.

But if young Leslie Taylor can’t play any more because of his defective eyesight, he should consider becoming a referee or umpire – in any sport.

He doesn’t need glasses.

Time and again the people who officiate in test matches and at international tournaments demonstrate a wondrous ability to miss the obvious or see fault where there was none.

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