JETS striker Roy O’Donovan believes being typecast as “an Irish hooligan” contributed to his two-game suspension for striking Sydney FC defender Jordy Buijs.
BACK IN BUSINESS: Roy O’Donovan returns to boost the Jets on Sunday. Picture: Simone De Peak
O’Donovan, who will return in Newcastle’s clash with Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday, spoke for the first time on Thursday after his controversial send-off in the win against Sydney FC on March 3.
He maintains that his14th-minute clash with Buijs, which left the Dutchman holding his face and rolling around on the turf, was accidental.
Subsequently charged with assault on a player, O’Donovanfelt it was unfair that the A-League match-review system made it a gamble to appeal against any disciplinary sanction, because of the possibility of receiving an increased penalty.
“They say you have a right to appeal, but it’s a veiled threat of an extra game if you do [unsuccessfully] appeal it,” O’Donovan said.
“That’s not an appeals process.For me, if n football is serious, it needs to start taking itself seriously like the other codes do in .
“The rugby league and AFL have beenexamples where players can appeal, they can have their day in court, and they’re not guilty just because they’re seen as some sort of Irish hooligan.”
O’Donovan said he had a reputation “whether I deserve it or not”, stemming back to an incident more than two years ago, when, while playing for Central Coast, he head-butted Wellington defender Manny Muscat and received an eight-game ban.
He said that since then, in the eyes of some: “I’m the hooligan, I’m the thug, and that’s the end of the story.”
Statistics suggestthat the 32-year-old is far from a serial offender. In 56 A-League games, O’Donovan has received only 13 yellow cards.
“I had one instance in a 15-year professional career where I lost my temper for a second, and that stigmagoes with me,” he said.
Of his costlyclash with Buijs, he said he unintentionallystruck him in the face as they raced to retrieve a stray ball. On the Video Assistant Referee’s advice, he was red-carded by whistle-blower Chris Beath.
“I didn’t deliberately hit him,” he said.
“I’m basically trying to press a ball, chase a ball down. The defender’s played a loose pass, that’s why he run across my path.
“I’m trying to get through him to get to the ball.”
He was charged with“assault on a player (e.g. violent conduct when not challenging for the ball) including an attempted assault on a player”.
“To miss two games, to miss a month overall, it’s ridiculous really,” he said.
“It’s gone now, but I think it’s something that n football needs to learn from, because you can’t tar someone with the same brush all the time…that one was very hard to take.”
Asked for his opinion of Buijs’s histrionics, O’Donovan replied that itwas“never in the spirit of the game” but there was little to deter players from similar behaviour.
“If you can get away with that in , which you can, why not do it?” he said.
“You get the other team punished–I got a two-game ban out of it–so keep doing it.”
Having started his Newcastle career with a dream run of seven goals in five games, O’Donovan has since endured the frustration of a groin injury and now suspension.
He was looking forward to resuming at the point of Newcastle’s attack, hopefully alongside Dimi Petratos, who has been in England with the Socceroos.
“I’ve got four or five games to score as many goals as I can now to help the team,” O’Donovansaid.
“They’re a great bunch of boys, and I’d love to have some silverware in the cabinet at the end of the season.”