Guys, I just want to re-visit the discipline issue before tomorrow’s game.

In the history of the Over 35s, discipline and self control has been one of our key trademarks since day one. In 6 seasons of playing, I reckon we’ve copped less than 10 yellow cards, which is a pretty amazing record, with our only two ever reds coming in the last 12 months.

This has always been a league where 90% of the teams/clubs/players are on the same page – they understand that many blokes in the league have families depending on them, that no one is getting paid, everyone expects to be able to go to work the next day.

Unfortunately there will occasionally be the odd cockhead in a team, or like last Sunday, half a dozen of them – when that problem is amplified by a ref scared to issue cards, fuckwits in the opposition will obviously see it as a green light to go with the stupid tackles all day. If it was any other ref, there would have been half a dozen cards and possibly a red by the end of the first half and we would have got the advantage – but unfortunately the actions of the opposition and ref are outside of our control.

What we can control is how we react.  We can a) stand our ground but still maintain our focus on the game, focus on our level of performance rather than square ups, giving us the best chance of winning, or b) retaliate, lose focus by getting into these constant by-plays and focusing on getting back at certain players, and play into their hands.

That last 5 minutes on Sunday we were giving away deliberate frees, getting involved in push and shoves, having bench players run on to the field which caused more angst and delays – it played right into their hands and we cost ourselves any chance of a last minute equaliser.

I KNOW to get kicked all day and not strike back is a cunt and takes amazing discipline. I KNOW the natural reaction is to want to belt them. But keeping your head in the game while they get more and more frustrated that their bullshit antics are not working or having an effect on you, and our team walking away with the result is the best way to respond.

But most importantly, it comes down to safety. When you start reacting, retaliating and escalating, you take the control of the situation out of our hands and things can turn ugly. No one knows what type of lunatic could be in the opposition or what they’re capable of – when you retaliate with a nasty tackle, shove or whatever, you lose control of the situation.

A few years ago, a shit penalty decision and a bit of push and shove against this same club (Thornbury), within half a second escalated to a Thornbury player coward punching Dimi from behind with full round house punches to the head. Dimi said he didn’t even feel it, but if it had have been someone else or those punches connected in the wrong spot, or if he got knocked out and smashed his head on the ground, suddenly a player is in hospital or worse.

Maintain your composure, be the bigger man, do not engage. Even in the example above, if a team mate has been punched, flying the flag and flattening the guy will make situation worse. If all of us show self control, de-escalate the situation, it doesn’t get ugly and most refs will typically see clearly who the instigators are and will act accordingly.

I’m not sure if you guys saw it, but a greay example is Arnie copping a fly kick into his back last weekend – he laughed it off. By NOT throwing a retaliatory punch or looking to beat the bloke to a pulp, by looking as if a deliberate fly kick to the back didn’t affect him in the slightest, he walked away looking like a fucking machine. Everyone from a distance knows who the winner is and who’s the coward. Be more like Arnie.

At the end of the day, if you think getting flustered, losing focus on the game, getting into constant scuffles and potentially escalating situations into full on brawls (that can put yourself and your team mates in harms way) and costing us suspensions, points and club sanctions is the answer, then you’re asking the wrong question.