There's a danger that bad eggs will give us all a bad name
This week's back pages are littered with controversy about ill-disciplined footballers, the young and not so young. I was alerted to the problems in the Watford Friendly League by the proud 82-year-old grandfather of one of the Jewish players on a non-Jewish team.
As far as Leslie Cohen was concerned, he was looking forward to seeing a good game of football between Whetstone Sabres and London Maccabi Lions but the veteran could not believe his eyes when the red mist descended. Over the years, Cohen has played in the old AJY League, Maccabi League, Hendon & District Premier Division and the London Business Houses League. He said: "I'm especially concerned that those who should be setting an example and providing leadership to youth behave in a reprehensible manner.
"I was deeply ashamed of the behaviour of the Lions team and their manager which I am sure has the effect of increasing antisemitism in both the sporting world and society at large."
I think it is important that everyone connected to the club takes Cohen's points on board. I know they will. Only last Sunday, I was at Rowley Lane, home of the Lions, where on one pitch they were hosting a Sunday FA Cup match, two others from the MSFL as well as a couple of WFL matches. These were to be followed by the Borehamwood Ladies team.
The club gets so much right image-wise with their promotion of youth but players must remember that reputations will be tarnished with the flick of a hand and it's vital that standards must be maintained by every player setting foot on the pitch.
The club has a highly professional set-up. They've got some of the top coaches and their respective Saturday and Vets team are now playing at the highest level the club has ever been. They have a strict code of conduct and treat acts of indiscipline with a firm hand. The decision to suspend offending players internally is the right decision as it sets an example, although I believe that everyone deserves a second chance.
The MJSL has also had its fair share of problems this season. The 10-team league has a long and proud history and again, it seems that the younger players including students based in and around the area, are grabbing the headlines for the wrong reasons.
All these players have a duty to behave. Sometimes it's worth remembering that it's only a game. Enjoyment must be the name of the game, and while we urge the likes of Kick It Out to address the problem of antisemitism in football, it's vital that we keep our own house in order.
There was also another incident, this time in the MSFL. The match involving Brixton and Faithfold C reached boiling point early in the second half when according to referee Ian Viner, "Faithfold totally lost the plot". He said: "In particular, I have to report the appalling behaviour of one player who did enough to be sent off about three times. After being shown the red card, he told me to **** off, came on to the pitch at the end of the game to remonstrate with me and even tried to have a go at me afterwards as I walked to the changing rooms. All this of course will be reported to the LFA." And players wonder why referees are walking away from the game.
It's not all doom and gloom though. Laurence Thorne, the chairman of the Maccabi Junior Football League, gave the thumbs up to teams and officials a month in the new season. He said: "What stood out most were the amount of top quality games played at U8, U9, U10 and U11 age groups.
"Watching the Under 8s play is now a revelation. Some are destined to become professional footballers, whilst you can see some of the other players may not have such ability but the smiles on their faces sums it all up. That's exactly why we do it."