Deaf football team relegated after conceding 164 goals because they couldn't hear referee's whistle
AFA Saturday League’s Division Five team Birmingham Deaf FC have had a disastrous season conceding 164 goals and finishing the season on minus 6 points?
The main reason? They couldn’t hear the referee’s whistle or commands.
They lost 25 out of 26 games and were relegated two tiers into division seven, producing one of the worst performances in the AFA Saturday Leagues’s history. BDFC were also deducted 9 points for failing to turn up for 3 matches. BDFC were formed in 1921 and also compete in the English Deaf Football North League and Cup.
Club secretary Guy Whieldon who is also deaf says that referees refused to use flags earlier.
“Most lads feel officials are not geared-up for a deaf team due to communication breakdowns, which cause difficulty. The referees are supposed to wave flags while, at the same time, blowing a whistle. Most referees forget to wave or simply don’t want to use a flag.”
A player from Sutton United who beat BDFC 10-0 said that the players had difficulties from the first whistle, “The ref would blow for a stoppage and they would continue to play.”
A league official also added that refereeing with flags had proven unpopular among officials saying “We were told they had three players in the national deaf team, but it soon became apparent they were out of their depth. It is the first time I’ve known a side end with minus points.
“Three or four (officials) did it (used flages), but it was not something that came naturally.They prefer the whistle”.
BDFC’s losses produced outrageous scorelines including a 15-0 loss to Wallsall All Stars.
However, Club secretary Whieldon refused to blame the officials for his side’s debacles saying, “I can’t fault the AFA. It was due to poor commitment from our lads as the average age of the team was 22 and our oldest player is 30. We wanted to start in division seven and learn, but the AFA decided to put us in division five.”
“Also, we have 36 players on our books. Half came to play and the side was different for every fixture. We played in the Birmingham AFA to raise our standards for deaf fixtures.
“Currently, I have no idea if we’ll continue in the league, that depends on the lads.”