USUALLY at this time of year people are focusing their attentions to presents, mince pies and the odd snifter of egg nog.
The fans of Scarborough Athletic will have something else on their festive plates though, following the baffling 112-day suspension that striker Ryan Blott has been gifted.
Blott has fallen foul of a brand spanking new rule, which doubles bans once players have reached a certain threshold of suspensions.
This is like a driver getting three points and a fine for a speeding offence, then the powers that be thinking that it would be a great idea to impose the same punishment again. I’ll bet that would go down well.
In football terms, we have seen Liverpool’s Luis Suarez receiving an eight-match ban after being found guilty of racism this week.
I’m sure that much of Merseyside and my sports editor Andy Bloomfield would be up in arms if the FA decided to add another 112 days onto that.
You’d probably find Kenny Dalglish and his cronies ranting at a European Court of Human Rights. Something I’m sure that Boro would be doing if they had the cash.
Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney are other examples. They both have similar disciplinary records to Blott, but because they are high-profile footballers there is no chance that they will ever be hit by this rule. In Rooney’s case, the FA generally opt to take games away from his bans.
If you look back through the years, there have been so many infamous suspensions, with the players just missing a handful of matches.
One example was when Arsenal’s Paul Davis broke the jaw of Southampton’s Glenn Cockerill with a punch in March 1988.
He only got nine matches, while Ryan is missing 17.
So, what is the point in introducing a new rule at this level if you are never going to introduce it throughout football.
It smacks totally of double standards.
Maybe on a Friday the FA have a “let’s invent a stupid rule day”, on which they pick a league and come up with a new law.
Meanwhile back in reality, unless Boro’s planned appeal to the FA is successful, Ryan is poised for his final game in a Boro shirt this season when Rudy Funk’s men tackle Brid Town in the Boxing Day derby at Queensgate.
Speaking to Ryan, he still seemed a bit stunned by what has gone on. I’m honestly not surprised.
He isn’t a player who goes out onto the pitch to intentionally injure a player, he is somebody who brings a bit of quality to the Northern Counties East League premier division.
Surely Ryan should be praised and protected by the league and the FA because they are good for the grass-roots level of football.
Instead though, Ryan has been punished for the occasional daft rant at a referee and the odd late tackle.
This only comes after he has gone out there and been booted from pillar to post by a burly NCEL centre-half.
These centre-halves and every other NCEL player will now have to be on their guard for the rest of the season, and probably longer.
You only have to miss 10 games in two years to become a victim of the law.
I’m sure that there will be plenty of other players around the are who are also on the verge of this. They will have to familiarise themselves with shopping on a Saturday afternoon rather than playing, because somebody was bored in the FA’s Wembley fortress.
On a more cheery note, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Let’s hope Santa brings a successful appeal to the Blott household.