Issue Clarke says Leslie and Quinn have cheated him

As told by Michael Wood

City’s central defender Matthew Clarke has branded Steven Leslie a cheat after the Shrewsbury Town midfielder “fell to his knees” to have a penalty awarded in the game with City yesterday.

The Bantams defender said of his lightweight opponent

The first [booking] for the penalty was the most blatant dive I’ve ever seen. He just collapsed to his knees and I thought he was the one getting booked for diving.

Watching from the Kop stand in line with the incident one could only concur with Clarke’s view. The distance between Clarke and Leslie could be measured in feet, not inches, and many shared the City man’s assumption that the player was booked for a simulated fall.

That the Referee Peter Quinn sent him off Clarke continued

I’m absolutely disgusted. I’ve been sent off before with two yellows and felt that only one was justified but I’ve never been 100 per cent cheated like this.

Clarke talked of the second booking saying

I don’t think the referee even saw the other incident. Hibbert just touched me, clipped his own ankle and fell to the floor.

Even should one assume that Clarke fouled “diving” Leslie and later “falling” Hibbert then examples of both offences went unpunished with card or word later in the game leaving Clarke to conclude that Quinn simply cheated him – and by extension the club and the supporters – to give more harsh punishments against him than other players received.

It is hard to argue with Clarke’s opinions. That one player is booked for his every transgressions while a player such as Drew Broughton can be given one yellow card for four elbowing offences boggles the mind and asks serious questions about referees and the motivation of referees in giving their decisions but while Clarke lambastes Quinn I have to admit a level of sympathy for the diminutive official.

Quinn’s job is not made easier by one player who – in the words of Clarke – cheats by blatantly diving – and another who – Clarke’s words again – “falls over his own feet” to get another player sent off. That Quinn is not able to correctly see these ruses for what they are – cheating – does not excuse Steven Leslie and Dave Hibbert for (in the opinion of Clarke) acting in such a way in the first place.

Perhaps Clarke would join in a commonly heard statement on the way out of the game yesterday that if Rochdale were good at football then Shrewsbury Town are good at cheating and that players who behave in the way that Clarke describes are shoddy disgraces to football.

Clarke feels as if he has been cheated. One suspects that were he not wary of an FA charge he could easily name the three people who have cheated him – and by extension – us.