One of my sons, who lives in Norwich, tells me that supporters of the Canaries still blame the referee for denying an equalising goal during their first match back in the Premier league against Crystal Palace.
Cameron Jerome brilliantly executed an overhead or scissors kick to put the ball in the net, However, if you look closely at the replay you can see that a Palace player was about to head the ball. Jerome’s boot didn’t actually touch him but if his foot had been just inches to the right, the Palace player would have had, at the least, a very nasty headache.
‘In the opinion of the referee’ as the Law says, it was ‘playing in a dangerous manner’. A somewhat misunderstood law I feel because no one is fouled. The word dangerous in this context means an action which is safe when no other players are around but becomes dangerous when they are. This is even if the danger arises because of an opponent’s movement, over which the player had no control. The other thing that is mentioned in the interpretations of this Law is that there has to be no physical contact for it to be deemed dangerous play. If contact is made that changes everything. The punishment for playing in a dangerous manner is an indirect free kick but if physical contact is made, it becomes a direct free kick offence and possibly some form of card.
Many great goals have been scored with overhead kicks but in the Norwich/ Crystal Palace game it was a classic case of dangerous play. Even so, it was perhaps a brave decision for Simon Hooper to make in his first season as a Premier League referee. Denying the home team an equalising goal when he was possibly the only person on the pitch, who spotted it, was never going to be popular but that is sometimes what refereeing is all about.