June 20, 2024

Felicitations! I am Donald Perkins, not to be confused with a certain Wigan Athletic soccerist that happens to share my initial and surname. But much like my near namesake, I am indeed a master of the fine and ancient martial art known as booking fu.

I have dedicated the past 30 years of my life to crafting the perfect foul, an engaging infringement that thoroughly entertains while inflicting no physical harm on an opponent. As an ‘infraction artist’, I must convince the officials my work is worthy of a precious yellow card.

Novice practitioners of this noble and widely celebrated sport may tug at their victim’s shirt sleeve, or perhaps utter an impromptu minced oath over the referee’s shoulder. Such ‘white belt’ methods are, however, deemed far too straightforward for advanced booking fu, which values humour and creativity.

As an aid to newcomers, here are my top tips for constructing a professional ‘black belt’ foul. Why not apply them to your Sunday League, back yard or kitchen table game?

(Warning: the following methods are to be employed at your own risk. Use with caution, and do not attempt if there’s a large bloke with meaty fists playing for the other team.)

Quick tips (skimmers skip to this bit)

As the opposition are about to launch a swift counter attack, hurl yourself at the ball with arms flailing wildly. Make repeated attempts to grab hold of the ball so you resemble a cat trying to perform both the doggy paddle and belly flop simultaneously. Share a terrible joke about oddly shaped fruit with the referee as he flashes his card – you must make him grin cheesily for the move to be deemed a success.

If your opponent appears to be outrunning you, firmly grip his shorts pocket and do not let go. You will not only prevent him from getting away, but also gain possession of any mint balls or chocolate treats that may be contained within. Furthermore, there is a 35% likelihood that your opponent will fall to the ground with his shorts around his ankles.

Next pretend to drop the ball seven times as you prepare to take a throw-in. Be sure to wipe your hands on your shirt repeatedly to sell the illusion that the ball is far too greasy to keep hold of for more than two seconds. Ultimately you might invite a team-mate, who is wearing gloves just for this occasion, to set up for a long throw before tossing it back to your goalkeeper.

Parting advice

As you might have gathered, many booking fu manoeuvres have significant crossover with the similarly revered art of time wasting fu. It is acceptable to deviate, as long as the end result is a fun vignette that summons the yellow card.

Be inventive and develop your own personal strategies for the perfect booking. Remember, you must not cause harm, only amusing anecdotes for your coffee table scrapbook and tea mornings at the local cricket club.

I’ve been Donald Perkins. But forget my name, as you will probably never hear from me again.

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