Football isn’t an overly complicated game. Each team has 11 players plus substitutes, with the idea being that the teams try to get the ball into the opposition side’s net. The side that scores the most goals wins. You can add all sorts of complications to it, such as the offside rule and, in the modern game, the Video Assistant Referee, but the reality is that it is a simple enough sport that is based around the use of a ball. For Dean Windass, that notion is something that caused him a bit of confusion back in 2006…
Playing for Bradford City at the time, Windass managed to wind up one of the players of the opposition enough to get him sent off. That is not an overly surprising fact in and of itself, given that players are always trying to get a rise out of their opponents, much more than most supporters ever realise. The thing that makes what Windass did noteworthy is the action he took to get a rise out of John Finnigan, who was playing for Cheltenham Town at the time. He didn’t say something irritating, instead choosing to grab his testicles.
The match was being played at Cheltenham Town’s home ground, the Jonny Rocks Stadium, with Bradford City as the visitors. The game was taking place in September of 2006, so still relatively early in the campaign, with both teams wondering whether they might be able to trouble the promotion spots. Just half an hour had been played when there was a melee, during which Dean Windass, playing for Bradford, decided to grab the testicles of the opposition player, John Finnigan, squeezing and refusing to let go.
Finnigan, not overly pleased with having his gentleman area squeezed by an opponent, lashed out and threw his elbow towards Windass, who hit the ground as if he was in extreme pain. The referee, seeing the incident play out, showed a yellow card to Windass but sent Finnigan off. Cheltenham had been leading 1-0 at the time thanks to a goal from Kayode Odejayi, but the reduction of the number of men on their team allowed Bradford to find a way back into the game. They scored twice in the second-half to win 2-1.
What added insult to injury as far as Cheltenham Town were concerned was the fact that Windass for the assist for Jermaine Johnson’s winning goal. In the eyes of the Cheltenham players and management team, Windass shouldn’t have even been on the pitch in order to play the ball in for the winning goal. It saw Bradford win the three points, though Cheltenham Town would have the last laugh when they finished in 17th at the end of the season, whilst Bradford ended up being relegated when they finished 22nd out of the 24 teams that made up League One for that season.
What Was Said
As you can imagine, the Cheltenham Town manager was extremely unhappy with proceedings. John Ward, the Town boss, was confused about why the two incidents were treated differently, saying, “The fourth official has seen Windass grab John by the testicles and squeeze them. John has thrown his arm across his chest to get him off. I’m aggrieved that both offences are not treated the same. Windass has fallen to the ground as if he was extremely hurt – I can’t explain why he has not been booked for the initial offence, and then for the simulation.”
Ward went on, “He has got a yellow card for grabbing John by the testicles, and the fourth official has expressed that that is not a sending-off offence. I think that is a violent act and a very unpleasant thing which doesn’t happen very often in professional football. I spoke to Dean and told him what I saw happen. He told me it was part of the game. I disagreed and said it wasn’t.” That is a fact that Windass agreed with, saying, “Their manager called me a cheat, but I can’t see why. There was a bit of a melee and I grabbed their player. But he took the bait, and he’s got himself sent off.”
Unsurprisingly, Windass showed little remorse about the incident. He said, “The main thing is we’ve got three more points and the rest is history.” As far as his own manager was concerned, Colin Todd claimed he hadn’t seen the incident and was instead simply pleased with the performance of his side, saying, “I thought it was a tremendous performance from us and we played with a lot of cohesion and enterprise. We are a different side from last year and there is so much going for us.”