It seems ironic, that on a week when not a single ball was kicked in anger, both the Evo-Stik and The Baris North Counties East Leagues, decide to print their up-to-date tables on discipline and it does not make good reading for many of our clubs.
In the Evo-Stik Premier Division, Stocksbridge Park are in second place in the disciplinary table with just 44 cautions and three sending offs from 31 games for an average of 1.71 while Whitby Town top the table with 38 cautions and three sending offs.
They really are good records and destroy the theory that relegation-haunted clubs are the ones most likely to be undisciplined, when you consider that both of them are in the bottom five.
Bottom of the table are Stafford Rangers with 54 cautions and seven dismissals while Frickley Athletic, with seven sending offs and 51 cautions are fourth bottom and Worksop Town - 53 cautions and three red cards - are 14th.
Sheffield FC, with 48 cautions and three sending offs, are eighth bottom with an average of 1.97 in Division One South. Leek Town top the table with just 17 cautions and no sending offs while Shepshed Dynamos are bottom with an average of 2.43.
So it really is well done to Stocksbridge Park who have made great efforts after being warned about their poor disciplinary record last season.
In the Baris North Counties East League, Handsworth are next to the bottom of Division One after they top the cautions with 60 and Parkgate head the sending offs with an incredible nine while Hallam have had five players dismissed.
Parkgate are bottom of the table in the Premier Division with an average of 2.76 after 48 cautions and those nine red cards while Maltby Main are just six places higher after having five sent off and 36 cautions giving them an average of 1.83.
It is pleasing though, to see Staveley in sixth place with an average of 1.31 after 38 cautions and just one sending off.
Handsworth, who have also had five red cards, are closely followed by two more Sheffield and Hallamshire CFA clubs, bottom of the table Hemsworth Miners Welfare and AFC Emley with averages of 2.21 and 2.06 respectively.
Hallam, with 34 cautions and six dismissals, are 15th but our other clubs are in the top half - Worsbrough Bridge in eighth with an average of 1.36, Dinnington Town 10th (1.48) and Worksop Parramore, seventh (1.36). Pontefract Colliery top the table with an average of 0.91, closely followed by Rossington Main on 0.96.
Overall, there is vast amount room for improvement with our eight clubs in the NCEL having amassed a shocking 30 sending offs and a staggering 325 cautions to date and the Evo-Stik reads little better, with our two clubs having six players sent off and 81 cautioned.
It does not make for good reading and our clubs simply have to tackle this problem head on. The old favourite of poor refereeing simply does not wash. I feel our managers must take a large share of the blame with their own poor behaviour as, already this season, eight of them have been removed from the dug-outs by referees. What sort of message does that send out to their players?
The club directors too, must share in the blame and it is no use moaning about the Sheffield and Hallamshire CFA and the Football League at Wembley, when they get large fines for amassing unwanted high disciplinary marks that they can ill afford, and letters of warning about their players behaviour at the end of the season. Remember that our clubs record of 25 sending offs and 263 cautions is simply not acceptable at any level of our game.
One pleasing aspect is set by our grassroots players, who turn out every week in the parks and whose games are refereed by inexperienced officials, many of whom are just starting out. Sending offs are down this season by 10 compared to last at 356, while cautions are up 352 at 5,348 but this is partly due to the fact that this season we did not have two months bad weather in November and December. Perhaps they are setting an example our senior clubs would do well to follow.
It all comes at a time when the Respect programme is doing well we are told. But is it? Certainly last Saturday’s game at Old Trafford is hardly the example Premiership clubs should be setting to the rest of the country. Sadly in the real world, you do not shake hands with a person you do not like and I believe it is time to scrap the stupid procedure before a game, and shake hands at the end, if things have gone well.
Whatever the feelings though, it is obvious something must be done about discipline or, in most cases, the lack of it.