Cleat Geeks

The Manchester Derby: The Penalty Area And A Fictitious Sky Award To A Former Manchester City Great

It has been the bane of the soccer fan,the commentator,the officials and the pundits for many, many years yet we still have the eternal question, ‘was it a dive or was it a foul’?Manchester United v Hull City - Premier League

Ordinarily not too much is said about what happens ‘outside the penalty box’ within reason, however if it is ‘inside the penalty box’ that is a different story. The tempting award of a penalty with the possibility of a goal deserved or not deserved being the desired outcome.

Over the last few seasons at Manchester United the likes of Nani,Young, Saha and possibly Ronaldo have played their part in gaining United penalty kicks while in the process building themselves bad reputations as divers.

soccer_field_areas_goalThe penalty area is a rectangular space that extends 16.5m (18 yd) to each side of the goal and 16.5 meters (54 ft) in front of it. Within the penalty area is the penalty spot which is 11 metres (36 ft) or 12 yards from the goal line, directly in-line with the centre of the goal. This is the most important area of the pitch and even has its own particular lexicon when dives or defensive fouls are committed within its borders.

There is the ‘stonewaller’ which means a definite penalty which no one argues about at, all a fair outcome from an unfair tackle. There is the ‘could go either way’ or ’50/50′ as the watching crowd and especially the match commentators and television pundits sit engrossed watching slow motion replays. All the while trying to convince themselves one way or the other about the validity of the decision by the referee to give or not give a penalty.

Then there is the ‘grey area’ when the discussion centres around whether the forward ‘hung a leg out’ and virtually fell to the ground looking sympathetically at the referee in the hope of a spot kick. Or the cynical ‘hidden foul’ by a defender which does not get punished and which supporters are told is part of the art of the game, the dark art, the equivalent of receiving a gold star for cheating.

Maybe it is now time for Sky Sports to add alongside their goal of the month award and player of the month award and manager of the month award the best dive or best hidden defensive foul of the month award.

It would be an interesting football exercise to ponder who would pick up most of those awards in the present day Barclays Premier League. However in light of the forthcoming Manchester United, Manchester City derby at Old Trafford there is surely only one name that can be mentioned in the context of the penally area.

LegendLeeFrancis Henry (Franny) Lee played for Manchester City between 1967 -1974. In the 1971–72 season alone Lee set a British record for the number of penalties earned and scored in a season, with 15 of his 35 goals in all competitions scored from the penalty spot.

Penalties are an issue that always go hand in hand whenever Lee’s playing days are recalled. Lee could be best described as a short, stout, almost tubby man, barrel chested and with what they call today a low center of gravity.

Once in the oppositions penalty area his pirouettes needed to be seen, to be believed. His dives from imaginary defensive tackles second to none and his full belly flops in the penalty area, outstanding. His nickname with a kind of grudging respect from supporters of other teams was ‘Lee One Pen’, or ‘Lee Won Pen’.

He was in fairness one of the most prolific goal-scorers in the history of Manchester City and is still held in great esteem today. His remarkable record for the club was 148 goals in 330 appearances and he was City’s leading marksman on four occasions.

How ‘Franny’ Lee would fit into the overhyped over processed seen from any angle game today is anybodies guess. However there is no doubt many a manager and fan would want him in their team for all those important penalty kick awards, rightly or wrongly awarded.

It is often remarked there is nothing new under the sun to which you could add with soccer in mind ‘or under the floodlights’. Diving or the professional defensive foul are here to stay while individual soccer players only leave echoes of themselves upon the football field.

Manchester United v Manchester City
Sunday 25th October 2015 14.05pm

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