Over the years football has had its fair share of ‘hard men’ that you wouldn’t want to mess with on the pitch or after a few too many shandys down at the Dog and Duck on a Friday evening. Duncan Ferguson, Roy Keane and Vinnie Jones come to mind as the leaders in such a race and while there propensity to violence was often clear there are other names to throw in the ring.
Hermann Hreidarsson for instance was as uncompromising as a player comes and once played almost 70 minutes with a broken foot; Reading’s Jason Roberts did the same for Wigan Athletic when they denied his current club a play-off place back in 2005.
But while all this goes on there is also a real growth in the amount of playacting and childish tomfoolery that goes on in the game. Yesterday saw Luis Suarez take another fall, and his continued flouting of amateur dramatics meant there was little sympathy when the giant German Robert Huth stamped on his stomach. Even if the referee had seen it you would imagine the raising of a sheepish smile rather than a red card would have been more likely.
Cheick Tiote looked as if he was on the verge of alien abduction such was the measure of his despair and wonderment at a Howard Webb decision on Tyneside yesterday, and while it was not related to pain, still goes down as one of the most embarrassing things ever witnessed on a football pitch.
Players play through pain barriers that is for certain, Ledley King was a testament to that fact; but you never saw the Spurs legend writhing on the floor like a decapitated worm every time his thigh bone rubbed against his knee-cap, a truly agonising thought.
But while football has again been thrown into disrepute by the few rugby, in this case the code of rugby league, has shown up football again when it comes to ‘being hard’.
The aptly named Paul Wood had a rather unfortunate genitalia incident when he ruptured his testicle during the Super League Grand Final this weekend. While most people would definitely cry off with such an eye-watering, hand numbing, brow perspiring injury Wood continued, playing almost 40 minutes in such a way, eventually having the testicle removed at the hospital.
While Blackburn’s Scott Dann and Gillingham’s Chris Whelpdale can test-ify to the painful nature of such a problem the Warrington Wolves star’s ability to play on in such a condition again highlights the growing difference between Rugby players and Football players in the UK.
Although in fairness to Dann he did himself continue to play, I guess some footballers still have the ‘balls’ for the job.
Can you think of any more injuries that have simultaneously made the entire male population wince in unison?
image: © Ben Sutherland