The spirit of the Maccabi League has been called into question after Redbridge Jewish Care pulled out of a Premier Division clash against champions-elect North West Neasden A.
Lions assistant-manager Danny Reuben cried foul after RJC forfeited, knowing that a defeat would consign them to relegation. Lying third from bottom, on the same points and goal difference, Reuben accused the East Londoners of under-hand tactics.
But Redbridge player-manager Darren Brown stuck to his guns, saying: “This is much expected from Lions B. Believe me, we would have rather played the game. We have been struggling for a team all season and Sunday’s match was no exception. I had eight fit players available. It is just very unfortunate it came down to this.”
Of the bottom four teams, Lions B and Montana A are the only sides to have fulfilled all their fixtures with RJC and Bafana Bafana having withdrawn from key matches. Bafana have played just three games since February 1 and it appears that they are putting all their eggs in one basket, hoping to nick a point or two in next week’s double-header against Chigwell Athletic A.
One Premier Division chairman told me that his team could forfeit all eight matches against the top four teams and have a good season but they enter the league to play football, win, lose or draw. The FA’s current rule of a goalless draw and no points deduction is resulting in relegation issues coming down to calculated gambles.
Zig Zag boss Neal Cohen said: “It is simple, teams are cheating by crying off fixtures to avoid losing goals and going down.”
UJS Norstar boss Phil Peters commented: “We believe something needs to be done about this ridiculous rule. Even a 3-0 defeat is unlikely to put teams off forfeiting where it is deemed necessary. And even if this season’s forfeited matches have been for valid reasons, all this talk is surely going to convince teams to use it as a dirty tactic next year.
“Whilst it is in the rules, it is not cheating, but it is unethical and completely against the spirit of the game.”
I was surprised to see organisers of the Maccabi Masters League’s Henry Swerner Cup allow London Maccabi Lions B a second bite of the cherry after they used an ineligible player in the initial semi-final tie against South Manx. As things panned out, the Lions were unable to raise a team and handed Manx a place in the final against Glenthorne United A on Sunday.
Danny Schindler achieved an impressive landmark last weekend. Representing Lions’ Sunday C team, the former Wingate & Finchley defender completed the set of playing for the club’s Saturday first and second teams along with all three Sunday teams.
Southgate Harmen A striker Lloyd Becker experienced a painful final game of the season after dislocating his shoulder against Temple Fortune.
Chigwell Athletic defender Craig Sandford was caught in an uncompromising position during Daniel Castle’s stag weekend. The right-back is trying to find an alibi after allegedly being caught in bed handcuffed to a midget.
Glenthorne United A veteran Paul Shamplina was left with egg on his face after being turned away from the team’s flight to Glasgow ahead of the Peter Morrison Trophy clash. Shamps forgot his passport, believing his driving licence would be good enough to take him north, leaving manager Ian Cohen to say: “We tried to get him through as luggage!”
The Premier Division title race could be settled on Sunday when defending champions North West Neasden A host Faithfold A, having already beaten them three times this season.
Maccabi Scotland are still recruiting for their open football team taking part at the Maccabiah. Having broken away from the Great Britain delegation for the first time, the squad is looking to add players who have Scottish heritag, enthusiasm and commitment. Players interested should contact firstname.lastname@example.org