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Leadership from a different perspective – football fair-play

Naked Leader Week – 222 (w/c Monday 27 August 2007)

Leadership from a different perspective – football fair-play

As you may know, I am a passionate fan of Woking FC (link to – we play in the strangely titled Blue Square Premier League, and I am very honoured to also be a Director of the club.

Last week we played away at Grays on a very wet, midweek game – our second game of the new season after drawing at home in the opener. It was a fairly uneventful match until the 87th minute, when the most extraordinary thing happened, one of the strangest incidents in our history.

The game looked set for a nil-nil draw, when play stopped for a Grays’ player being injured. As often in these situations, the game restarted with a non-competitive drop-ball, i.e. the referee instructed Woking to pass the ball back to Grays keeper Ross Flitney.

So, from an inconsequential drop ball near the halfway line, Woking player Matt Pattison kicked the ball to the keeper, ready for the game to continue…eh, not quite. For some reason only known to himself, Ross (Grays keeper) chose the exact moment the ball was kicked, to wander out and say something to the referee. Meantime, the ball was kicked…behind the keeper, and into Grays’ open net.

As they might ask on a sports programme – what happened next?

Well, from a logical point of view, and after sufficient hesitation to appear polite and considered, the referee gave the goal (as by the rules).

And from an emotional point of view, all confusion (Woking players and fans) and anger (Grays players and fans) broke loose…

That was when our new manager, Frank Gray (link to showed immediate leadership. He went onto the pitch and gave his instruction, on what was the right thing to do.

That was for his Woking players to allow Grays to walk through unimpeded for an equaliser. Substitute striker Ben Watson — who wasn’t going to let his goalkeeper or someone who doesn’t normally score get their chance to find the net — duly obliged as Cards’ keeper Nick Gindre watched in anguish with his head in his hands at being ordered to concede a goal.

Of course there are many arguments about what other people or clubs would have done, about how Frank Gray was wrong – after all he has been controversially sacked by Grays in the pervious season and could have exacted revenge – or that we “gave away” a win, or that if we had not done this how we would not be trusted by any other club.

Before all of that noise, our new manager, did the right thing, and in doing so, made me very proud to be a director of my local club.

With my best wishes to you all

David X


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