OK, the final part of our exploration of the highways and byways of Law 11 of the Laws of Association Football, aka the Offside Rule: Offside Elmlea, or, the offside trap. The final push! Be brave, people – we’re nearly there.
So, there you are, back in the game, forced by the vagaries of football away from your future squeeze of choice, the opposition goalie. Ah, cruel Fate! Yet such is the flow of the game that you find yourself fairly soon running back towards him, just ahead of the ball, but behind the all-important second-to-last-opponent, whom you fondly hope yourself to have replaced in the goalie’s affections. Your teammate who has possession of the ball is looking to pass it to you (this is all perfectly plausible, since, if you are not a forward, how on earth could you have got away with spending so much time hanging around the opposition goal?).
You have mixed feelings at this point, since you are fully aware that your job is to score goals, but you are also reluctant to put the potential future Mr You in a difficult position by scoring a goal against him. You decide that if your teammate does pass the ball to you, you will either shoot wide, or, possibly, shoot in such a way that TPFMY will be able to save it athletically in his trademark manner which does so much to bring an appreciative flush to your cheeks. Unfortunately, as your teammate passes the ball forward to you, the second-to-last-opponent, who is now the only member of the opposing team ahead of the ball apart from you and the goalie, races back down the pitch past you, leaving you exposed in front of both him and the ball. You are pretty sure that as he passes you, he makes a very ungentlemanly gesture in your direction, but your attention is drawn by the sound of the whistle and the linesman’s flag pointing in your direction. Oh dear! You have been fooled by Offside Elmlea! But before you can feel bad about this, or the loud jeers of the opposing fans ringing humiliatingly in your ears, you hear a cry of “Leave him alone!” and the opposition goalie shoots past you, heading for the second-to-last-opponent, with whom he starts to remonstrate passionately whilst gesturing in your direction and punctuating his points with shoves to the chest of the STLO, who is shouting equally passionately “That’s the wrong way round, you bloody ingrate!”
And there, in the bosom of the beautiful game, as cries of “Backstabbing double-crossing renegade Judas!” and “Regressive pathological infantile little git!” resound around the ground, we must leave them. I trust you are now all fully up to speed on the Offside Rule and ready for the quiz? Has everybody revised? Put your hand down, Golborne, I know you haven’t. Right, pencils at the ready? Write on one side of the paper only, no conferring. Off we go.
Question 1. Frank likes Sergei, but Sergei is keen on the referee. Should Frank: a) score a really good goal in the hope of winning Sergei’s admiration? b) Get himself offside in the hope of getting into a row with the ref and being able to lamp him in the ensuing debate? c) get himself some therapy and maybe pay a bit of attention to Hans, who has literally been running after him all season?
Question 2. Lionel is in goal, Ferdinand is running down the pitch towards him with the ball, Steve is just outside the penalty area and Franz is level with Ferdinand. If Fabien gets ahead of Steve is he a) offside? b) offside lite or c) lost?
Question 3. Louis is in talks to front a major underwear campaign when he hears on the grapevine that Giorgio is also talking to the company in question. Should he a) instruct his agent to call the advertising agency and find out what’s going on? b) instruct his agent to open talks with Gillette in the hope of persuading them to advertise their latest leap in shaving technology using his baby-smooth face? c) try to ruin Giorgio’s underwear looks by biting him very hard on the shoulder?
Completed papers on my desk by the time the bell goes, please. Tomorrow there will be a special edition of TFFOTD to celebrate the end of the World Cup. There were days when I thought it would honestly never come.
That was The Footballing Fact Of The Day, part 11. I thank you