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August 2021

The 10 Football Commandments for the 21st century

The 10 Football commandments – Don McMahon

You may know that I have a rather different view of the Beautiful Game from many supporters, regardless of which team they follow. My involvement in football began in 1958 when I got hit in the face by one of the old, all leather, laced footballs while I was in goals having a kick about with one of my teachers in High School.  That didn’t knock any sense into me and so I have paid for my sins every since, the ultimate punishment being my passion for The Arsenal.

Reflecting on 45+ years experience in the game, it became apparent to me that football, aside from having players, laws, equipment and financial management change significantly over that period, has never really been grounded in basic and fundamental values or unarguable paradigms of truth and moral rectitude. Therefore, I am proposing that we write up a series of commandments rivalling the Biblical dicta that everyone enjoys ignoring:

#1)  Thou shalt NOT sell the game to the highest bidder(s).

Basically, football should never be for sale to those whose wealth and power can buy anything. Nor should it ever be a business first and the world’s most popular sport second, nor should its true value to the world at large be determined by professional football clubs alone. It was, is and always will be for the common man and woman who enjoy watching or playing in a kick- about from time-to-time.

#2)Thou shalt NOT play boring football.

This is a challenge to managers, coaches and trainers worldwide to continue to learn from successful footballers and always to seek to coach players to play more skilfully, more passionately, more beautifully and more enjoyably. Football is NOT static, it evolves and improves each year, despite Fifa’s best efforts.

#3) Thou shalt NOT forget football’s history and roots.

There is a tendency to overlook the original purpose of the game and to promote the flashier, Hollywood-inspired tinsel like Beckham and Ronaldo. Everyone involved in the game needs to promote it as a family-oriented sport where boys and girls, men and women can play safely and enjoyably regardless of how well they do so. The 150th Anniversary of the Game has just happened and we need to promote the original values and purpose of the Game.

#4) Thou shalt NOT permit the Game to be sullied or demeaned.

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If there is one area in which the authorities in charge of promoting our game have failed, it is their inability and unwillingness to protect this sport from the vultures, greedy leeches, ignorant fascists and racists, ignoramuses, proponents of violence and other criminals.

#5)Thou shalt NOT prioritise winning over more important aspects of the Game.

As club supporters and Football aficionados, too many of us see winning as the sole value and proof of superiority regardless of the level the Game is played at. Take it from me, there is nothing more disheartening and saddening than to see an enraged parent screaming at their 5 year old or at the volunteer referee because his or her child’s team lost.

#6)Thou shalt NOT encourage poor sportsmanship or selfishness in football.

Fairplay is the fundamental foundation of football and sportsmanship is its immediate example. The cheating,diving, play-acting, hyperbole and referee intimidation that occurs at all levels of our game are bringing the game into disrepute. Selfishness (as seen in the greediness and disloyalty common in professional football)and its cousin, the Big Ego syndrome, are sure to destroy the ultimate purpose of a team sport like Football.

#7)Thou shalt NOT disrespect or show hatred towards other Football fans.

I know we all love to demean and deride our Spud adversaries and maybe this is really simple fun without any malice intended. However, we are all exactly alike when it comes to Football….we all share the same passion for our Club, love of Beautiful Football, the thrill of victory or a tie brings and the downer defeat entails. At the end of the day we all end up in more or less the same place each week….eagerly awaiting the next Game.

#8)Thou shalt not punish or abuse the officials.

This is very close to my heart as I am a retired referee. The game is nearing a crisis point because fewer and fewer people are willing to take the whistle. This has come about because of the punishment, abuse and occasional injuries and even risk of death officials have been subject to recently. We are there, like the players, to do our best for the game and to ensure that it is played in a fair, safe and enjoyable manner. We are human and make mistakes but greater tolerance and patience are needed, as well as respect for the people in black.

#9)Thou shalt not allow the authorities to hijack OUR Game.

The Beautiful Game belongs to us, the supporters and participants, NOT just the stuffed suits at Fifa, Uefa and the national associations. If it means that we take back the powers we have permitted these semi-lucid administrators to enjoy, then so be it. The game is far too important to permit blinkered and corrupt sycophants to ruin.

#10)Thou shalt not make the Game unaffordable for the masses.

Many third world nations still play the game in rocky meadows, back streets and any relatively flat surfaces (beaches, parking lots, etc.)with a barely recognisable ball and jury-rigged goals and yet they enjoy every second of this sport, regardless of their ¨poverty¨. We must ensure that the game is always available to anyone, regardless of their circumstances. There are sports some of us will never afford to play but Football should never become one of them.

If you have other suggestions,please feel free to contribute in a positive and constructive manner. The order I have written these commandments in does not necessarily reflect their importance.

The books…

33 comments to The 10 Football Commandments for the 21st century

  • Rupert Cook

    Very good. Reading this it felt like I’d woken up on a perfect day (RIP Lou Reed). Unfortunately commandment no.1 seems to have been broken on numerous occasions.

    As for no.2, well that’s subjective. Many would say Spain play the best football but I frequently find it boring. And you’re old enough to remember the old so called boring Arsenal that George Graham oversaw. It won us plenty of trophies though and gifted Wenger with the best defence in England.

    No.10 I’m afraid has been a fact of life for many seasons now. Ticket prices at Arsenal are excessive as they are for most top teams. That’s the price you pay for the expensive players the best teams buy.

  • Pat

    Read Don’s article. Felt positive.

    Read Rupert’s comment. What a downer! Another excuse to have a go at Wenger and Arsenal. I’ll say this for you Rupert, you never give up.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Rupert means the defence from the 1994-1995 season that let in 49 goals and finished 12th. That lost 17 games that season. We finished 8 points above a relegation place.

    Yep, that must have been that best defence Rupert is talking about. Maybe he has forgotten that season… you know after all those years in the top 4 people tend to forget those days…

  • blacksheep63

    great thoughts Don. I think many of these have been broken fairly consistently, some since the game became professional. It doesn’t mean we should try and uphold them but football is not run by the people that play it or watch it – it is run by old farts in suits. In all of this celebration of 150 of the FA there is very little criticism of how that organization has failed the fans, the country, women’s football and our future stars. Q: What has the FA done for football? A: FA

  • Rupert Cook

    @Walter, you know very well that we had an exceptional defence in Bould, Winterburn, Dixon and co. If you like Wenger improved them, that should make you feel happy.

    @Pat, hardly having a go at Arsenal is it? Prices are expensive and I expect them to be. If they weren’t we probably wouldn’t be buying the likes of Ozil. I’d like to see prices lowered at every top club so we could see some of the poorer fans experience big games but market forces don’t really allow that.

    Trouble with you is that because I don’t wholeheartedly agree with every sentiment expressed in a post or with fellow acolytes of UA you decide I’m having a go at Arsenal and Wenger. Sure I’m not a paid up member of the Wenger fan club, probably couldn’t afford it, but that doesn’t mean I think the manager is rubbish. I still recall the brilliant teams we had under Wenger, my favourite still being the 1998 one, and I think Wenger still has the hunger for the battle, I just don’t think he’s the genius you seem to think he is. I’d still love him to win the CL or the league again, just to prove me and all the other doubters wrong.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Of course they were exceptional but they also had bad days or even bad seasons.

    I just wanted to point at that by some forgotten fact.

    Like the fact that the invincible defensive line was completely the work of Arsène ‘who knows fuck all of tactics and defense’ Wenger.

    I have seen some Arsenal fans (doutbful) claim that this invincible defense was the famous back 4. They weren’t.
    But in order to take anything away from Wenger and his achievements some do claim such things. And some fall for it, because if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth for some

  • bjtgooner

    Nice article Don. I think the abuse of officials by players and managers (probably made much worse by the antics of Red Nose over the years) is a sad reflection on the deteriorating way society views authority. However, the competence and fairness of the refs must be or become much better established than it is today.

    Pat, as you probably gather from time to time I keep an eye on the antics of the AAA, including rupert. He has tried to move his position to suit our more positive results. He knows if he remains as obviously anti-Wenger and sarcastic as he was at times last year he will get hammered, so he is trying to be sarcastic in a more subtle way – but is still using the new found blander comments to try and move opinion against the team and manager.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Who can disagree with any of that. Has Jose seen this?

  • Rupert Cook

    @Walter, I have never claimed Wenger knows nothing about tactics. I am not privy to his team talks so it’s a unfair to make assumptions. Sure he makes mistakes, what manager doesn’t? Our defensive record though in recent seasons, with the exception of last year, has been quite poor.

    I think GG’s rather nefarious behaviour may have impacted on our team in his last season at Arsenal hence the rather poor defensive record.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Mandy Dodd,

    No, he was too busy putting himself in the middle of the attention in order to sell his own self image better.

  • colario

    @ commandment 5
    Don McMahon
    I agree with you on this. I would point out that all the parents are doing is following the example set by the star of the book ‘My autobiography’ published last week. I think you should extend the rule to team managers.

  • elkieno

    What was wrong with Ruperts comment? It’s his opinion wasn’t rude and so entitled..
    A few if those commandments are dependencies of each other really, so ‘don’t make it expensive’ would have a flow on effect that makes the game available to the poorest of poor.
    Epl is great cos we have Arsenal and a couple others who play it one way and the others that play ‘British’ way, which is why they don’t like us I reckon.
    Gee either Chelsea are really good now, either way they are both are very beatable if at top of our game when we play em…

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thats Jose – class personified

  • HenryB

    It would be very difficult to argue with your sentiments and in a perfect world who would not want your commandments adhered to?

    The problem is that the world is full of venal people who would no doubt profess to agree with you as long as it applied to everyone except themselves.

    Just look at Ferguson and Maureenhio, for example.
    They would never admit they ever had a bad thought or ever did anything remotely machievelian, despite the evidence to the contrary made available to millions of fans when their games are shown on TV.

    And they are not alone, of course.

  • gouresh

    Hi Walter, this off topic so I am sorry about it. Can we start naming and shaming clubs for keeping the grass long and not watering the pitch? I know its a bit of a task.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    # 11- Thou shall not lie with thy brother’s(or fellow player’s) wife – that’s you Giggs and Terry !
    But then again , “Lie down with dogs ,and get up with fleas’ .

    # 12 – Thou shall not bear false witness against thy brothers for material gain .
    Sub clause , bitting the hand that fed you -Robson , Wright , Merson , Adams , Smith ,Dixon and on and on ……

    #13 – Thou shall shepherd( or manage ) thy flock by an unblemished self example ,eg…Arsene Wenger .
    And never to be lead into temptation , of the coin – GG, Harry Redknapp ; of the flesh -Pleat ,Avram Grant ;and of all that is unholy – SAF ! Oh and Mike Rielly – yours is the ‘hot’ seat next to Lucifer!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    PRIDE GOETH BEFORE A FALL – A happy and gay tale !

    Four friends, who hadn’t seen each other in 30 years, reunited at a party. After several drinks, one of the men had to use the rest room. Those who remained talked about their kids.
    The first guy said, “My son is my pride and joy. He
    started working at a successful company at the bottom of the barrel. He studied Economics an Business Administration and soon began to climb the corporate ladder and now he’s the president of the company. He became so rich that he gave his best friend a top of the line Mercedes for his birthday.”

    The second guy said, “Darn, that’s terrific! My son
    is also my pride and joy. He started working for a big airline, and then went to flight school to become a pilot. Eventually he became a partner in the company, where he owns the majority of its assets. He’s so rich that he gave his best friend a brand new jet for his birthday.”

    The third man said: “Well, that’s terrific! My son
    studied in the best universities and became an engineer. Then he started his own construction company and is now a multimillionaire. He also gave away something very nice and expensive to his best friend for his birthday: A 30,000 square foot mansion.”

    The three friends congratulated each other just as the fourth returned from the restroom and asked: “What are all the congratulations for?” One of the three said: “We were talking about the pride we feel for the successes of our sons. …What about your son?”

    The fourth man replied: “My son is gay and makes a living dancing as a stripper at a nightclub.” The three friends said: “What a shame…what a disappointment.”

    The fourth man replied: “No, I’m not ashamed. He’s my son and I love him. And he hasn’t done too bad either. His birthday was two weeks ago, and he received a beautiful 30,000 square foot mansion, a brand new jet and a top of the line Mercedes from his three boyfriends.

    They fainted!

  • AL

    The 11th commandment had me in stitches:)

  • Florian

    The #13 is reserved for the lucky ones;)

  • Sammy The Snake

    Wise words.

  • OMGArsenal


    a)These commandments, like the real ones, are usually ignored so yes, the Football commandments are also ignored….but this truism is still essential for Football’s survival.

    b)Depends on what your definition of boring is, watching Chelsea play can be ultimately very boring but I meant that kids have to trained to play the game as beautifully as possible and as skillfully as they can achieve….not your subjective take on what you are seeing.

    c)You misunderstood the gist of point 10, I meant keeping the game affordable for the players,parents and clubs, NOT necessarily the fans. It would be very nice to make the tickets more affordable as a requirement but that means trimming other things like salaries, expenses, and overhead as well as increasing revenue by better business management and investments,sponsorships and sales.

  • Pat

    Your characterisation of Rupert is absolutely spot on.

  • bjtgooner

    Thanks Pat.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Can’t find too much wrong with Rupert’s initial comments. Don’t agree with much of his characterization of Arsene Wenger’s work but on this his comments seem pretty innocuous.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    More commandments out of the window –

    Socially unacceptable humour

    A woman in labor is screaming profanity at her husband from her hospital bed.
    He says, “Hey, don’t blame me! I wanted to stick it in your ass but NO, you said that might hurt!”

    I spent $5,000 on a boob job for the wife. She was delighted.
    I spent another $2,000 on a nose job for her. She was ecstatic.
    I spent $2,000 on liposuction for her and she couldn’t thank me enough!
    But I spend 50 bucks on a blowjob for myself and she goes fucking nuts!!!
    Women, I can’t figure them out…

    A mother in law said to her son’s wife when their baby was born:
    “I don’t mean to be rude but he doesn’t look anything like my son.”
    The daughter-in-law lifted her skirt and said:
    “I don’t mean to be rude either, but this is a pussy
    …not a fucking photo-copier.”

    Little kid catches his mom and dad having sex. He says, “What are you doing?”
    His father says, “We are making you a little brother.”
    The boy answers, “Why don’t you do it doggy style, and make me a puppy!”

    “I’m fed up with the excuses women come up with to avoid having sex,
    Like; “I’m tired, I’m washing my hair, I’ve got a headache, I’m your sister…”

    Dear Dr Phil,
    I was watching my next door neighbor’s wife sunbathing topless from my bedroom window. As I was jerking off I turned to notice my wife was just standing there, arms folded… watching me. Is she a pervert or what?

    My girlfriend says that a small penis won’t affect our relationship.
    Whether she’s right or not, I’d prefer it if she didn’t have one at all.

    My wife told me I am not good at love making. I told her I wanted a second opinion.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Blondes will all go to heaven …

    Three girls all worked in the same office with the same female boss.
    Each day, they watched the boss leave work early. One day, the girls decided that, when the boss left, they would leave right behind her.

    After all, she never called or came back to work, so how would she know they went home early?

    The brunette was thrilled to be home early…she did a little gardening, spent playtime with her son, and went to bed early.

    The redhead was elated to be able to get in a quick workout
    at the spa before meeting a dinner date.

    The blonde was happy to get home early and surprise her husband, but when she got to her bedroom, she heard a muffled noise from inside.

    Slowly and quietly, she cracked open the door and was mortified to see her husband in bed with her boss! Gently she closed the door and crept out of the house.

    The next day, at their coffee break, the brunette and redhead planned to leave early again, and they asked the blonde if she was going to go with them.

    “No way!” the blonde exclaimed. “I almost got caught yesterday!”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    The Olympic Colors… from

    A man is out shopping and discovers a new brand of condoms: Olympic condoms.

    Impressed, he decides to buy a pack to show his wife. After he arrives home, he proudly presents the olympic condoms to his puzzled wife.

    “Olympic condoms?” she asks him. “What makes them olympic, exactly?”

    “Well,” answers her husband, “They come in three colors: Gold, Silver and Bronze.”
    “What color are you going to wear tonight?” she asks with a smile.
    “Gold, of course!” proclaims her husband proudly.

    “Really,” ponders the wife, “Why don’t you wear Silver?”

    “Why silver?” asks the husband.

    “Well, it would be nice if you came second for a change.”

    DAMN !

  • Rupert Cook

    @OMG Arsenal, I don’t disagree with your sentiments, only find it depressing to think that they would be difficult to apply in such a corrupt world as ours. It’s an interesting balancing act for many clubs, business versus sport. One cannot thrive without the other so it’s essential that Arsenal are successful on the field otherwise they won’t attract the best business deals and that in turn feeds the coffers so we can buy the best players. Even Chelsea and City have to obey market forces to some extent.

    I understand what you’re saying about kids being taught to play attractive football but I guess some people will find pleasure in the way Chelsea play too even though most of us find it dull. And Chelsea haven’t always played the same way, they couldn’t have considering how many different managers they’ve had. On the whole I just wish our kids were coached properly.

    My mistake on point ten. I was looking at it in a very narrow way. I agree with your expanded points which I didn’t consider.

    @Goinggoinggooner, most of my comments are fairly innocuous, hardly much to get worked up about but some people detest independent opinions especially if they dare to differ from their own. I’ve no idea why these people get so angry and resort to vile abuse but I guess they’re rather limited. I don’t respond to them anyway.

  • Pat

    Vile abuse, Rupert? I wouldn’t call it that.

    I have no problem with independent opinions.

    I have a problem with someone who claims to be a supporter but rather slyly puts the boot in when an opportunity presents itself, or even makes up an opportunity when there isn’t really one there.

  • bjtgooner


    Methinks thou dost protest too much, or, as some might say – you is jivin’ us man!

  • OMGArsenal

    RC….it Is depressing when one considers how far down the road to perdition Association Football has come in 150 years. I have no disagreement with a Club that considers itself a sporting venture and a business venture at the same time, as AFC does. However I suffer terribly when I think of how the Beautiful Game has been sold as a commodity to slease-bags, low-lifes, rich playboys as toys,the corrupt and criminal elements worldwide. I share the small Clubs (pro and semi-pro, as well as amateur)angst as they acknowledge their perpetual inability to ever reach the heights the ¨big¨ clubs seem to have monopolized.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Pat, that comment wasn’t aimed at you. Excuse me, put the boot in, where do you live, in Hello Kitty land?

    @OMG, it’s not really consolation but most sport seems to be plagued by corruption. Football probably more than most, of course, because it’s overflowing with filthy lucre.

  • bjtgooner


    Still trying to get the last comment? But, you is still jivin’ us man!