Westlawn Tigers' Koby Holland takes the ball against Yuraygir United in the 13s grand final at Yamba in 2019.
Westlawn Tigers' Koby Holland takes the ball against Yuraygir United in the 13s grand final at Yamba in 2019.

FROM THE GRANDSTAND: Does football need a rule change?

WELL it’s time to turn our attention to the truly named “world game”.

Granted it is the main code of football throughout the world, but I and many others cannot bring myself to call it anything but soccer.

I know that offends many purists and I was careful to use the other word when I contacted club presidents and coaches to get their say.

However, it must be said that “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, and in Rome, football is the correct term.

However, in other parts of the world it means something else.

In San Francisco for instance, it would mean gridiron (NFL) while in Melbourne, going to the football can only mean AFL at the MCG.

In Townsville, their new football stadium is all about rugby league, and so it goes.

So, back to the theme of this series. What rule change would you make to your game to make it a better spectacle?

Most of those I contacted were not quick with a response, which is natural because the “rules” per se, are never a big issue or discussion point.

In recent years it’s been more about use of the video review or the administration of the A-League that gets the tongues wagging.

So I started them off with a suggestion that the goals should be bigger (wider). After they got off the floor I told them why.

When the game was invented the average Englishman and Gaelic derivative was closer to five foot high than six. Now, all goalkeepers are well over six foot and can easily tip the ball over the cross bar and at a penalty shot can dive almost to the upright.

With more scoring I think the results would be a fairer indication just who was the better side and by how much. Years ago I remember reading a sociologists report from the 1970s which attributed those nasty riots at games the result of built up frustrations emanating from the lack of scoring.

Who knows? When I see sides dominate possession and territory but come away with a one-all draw I get frustrated.

Westlawn Tigers president James Joyce made the best suggestion I think (because I agree with it probably) and that is to do away with the off-side rule which is a point of dispute in almost every game I watch. It would reward and indeed encourage more attacking play and thereby more goals.

Of course not everyone agrees. Maclean Bobcats president Matt Farrell was definitely against it and that’s no surprise given that he is a goalkeeper and would have more work to do and tougher decisions to make. He did suggest that players who get a yellow card for some indiscretion should be off the field for say, ten minutes, like other codes do.

Scott Forwell from Grafton United wants to see the 18-yard box (penalty area) reduced in size and for good reason. It would advance the attacking game and lessen the “kick and chase” mantra of most sides to resume play. He went as far as to suggest a throw out from the edge of the box instead of a kick as they do in futsal (indoor soccer). All this makes sense to me.

David Towns from the Coutts Crossing Cougars wants to restrict the number of substitutes. This will increase the fatigue factor and open up play a bit more. He does however, realise that with so much social football being played it would not be popular.

Finally to the doyen of football coaches, Trevor Bennett from Iluka, who believes they should ban the backward pass once the attacking team goes over halfway. It would keep the momentum in a positive tone and improve the spectacle.

All in all I can only but agree with Trevor when he says the attraction of his game is the lack of rules and the prerequisite of a great player is not power, speed, weight or height. Sounds good to me.



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