Harty on a serious issue in youth football

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I HAD a little bit of a dilemma last week, which unfortunately highlights a very serious issue concerning youth football and, in fact, society in general?

The Sunday before last, the commander-in-chief and I strolled over to Hill Barn Rec to watch Harty Jnr in between the sticks for Worthing United under-18s.

As we were walking back up towards home, we stopped on the top pitch and watched United’s under-15 side play for a short time.

As we were walking through the car park on our way home, I saw an individual who I thought I instantly recognised and recalled that he was currently on the sex offenders register.

It’s then the doubts creep in. This person has no apparent connection with Worthing, so was it him? At 47, have I become forgetful and mistaken?

I went home, Sunday continued, and I slept on it. Monday came and after I had second thoughts, I decided to contact my friend, who runs United’s under-15s.

He, too, had seen the person, a well-known face to people of a certain age, in fact asking him the question, don’t I know you?

At that point, the individual did give his name, but the action somewhat diverted as a player was injured and the game abandoned after 48 minutes.

The United manager did the right thing and contacted the other club, who were from some distance away, and confirmed that Mr X was known to them as he was related to a member of their team, and that, as far as they were concerned, was the end of the matter.

But is it? If you search the individual on Google, it is all there in black and white. He was jailed for a short period for downloading child pornography and put on the sex offenders register.

Should he be allowed to watch youth football, regardless of whether one of his relations is playing?

Some might argue that he’s served his time, so we should all move on. But how would they feel if Gary Glitter turned up to a game to watch his “nephew”?

Others might argue that the sex offenders register is there for a reason, and all the time someone is on it, there has to be boundaries.

After a period of reflection, I personally didn’t feel comfortable with the situation, which is why I said something. Full marks to the United team for raising the issue, but given the FA guidelines, I am somewhat surprised by the other team’s attitude to the situation.

A far cry from when at under-8s, my management team and I were criticised at an FA child protection course for taking an injured seven-year-old into a warm dressing out of the rain and leaving him alone with a colleague (who I would trust with my life), as it violated their code of conduct.

A far cry or double standards?

Sadly, if the BDO needed proof that they were losing the darts battle with the rival Sky-backed PDC, it came on Sunday.

When Lakeside debutant, Christian Kist, won one version of the world darts title, the commentator told us afterwards that he was ranked the 13th best player in Holland (the late Vincent Van Gogh is currently ranked at No 7).

However, my own personal highlight of the week was when Ray Stubbs was interviewing Ted “The Count” Hankey, who has announced his impending defection to the PDC, about his new, clean-living lifestyle.

“Yes, Ray, I’ve cleaned up my act, I’ve cut out lager, I’m on a health kick, I feel much fitter, when I’ve finished with you, I’m not going to the bar.”

“Where are you going, then?”

“Outside for a fag”