AFC Unity’s quest to promote fair play that was enjoyed through pre-season friendlies was tragically jeopardised in an opening league game that saw them almost immediately go down to ten players and lose 0-7 to top-of-table Beighton Magpies.
The sending-off has resulted in the guilty player being removed from the first team entirely.
“The game was overshadowed by so many things,” said manager Jay Baker. “Obviously, it was always going to be a tough game. At 0-2 we had a player get sent off about twenty minutes in for something stupid and unforgivable, and then we were 0-3 down by half-time. In the second half, all you can hope to do is hold it together, and we let four more in when they were naturally playing keep-ball to wear us out. Again, we showed guts to battle like that, especially with the injuries we incurred and the abuse we were having to face.”
Baker is planning to take action to the County FA following the incidents in the game. “If a player does something wrong, we take action – and we’ve done that,” he said, referring to the removal of the player who was sent off, having violated the club’s written Respect Code that she signed. “But several of my players were so deeply upset by the language and bullying behaviour they were subjected to, and I’d hope others deal with that, too. I can’t say any more at this time, but suffice to say I will need reassurances that it won’t happen again because I personally refuse to subject my players to that in the future.”
“Life’s too short,” he added, “and we just want to play soccer and promote decency, and with these decisions we’ve made, we’re proving we’ll do just that. We’re only going to grow and get better as a team and as a club.”