Echoes of Eden Hazard ball-boy incident when Bristol City played Watford
Watching Chelsea's Eden Hazard tangle with a ball-boy at Swansea in last night's Capital One Cup semi-final brought to mind an incident I witnessed at Watford a couple of seasons ago.
The latest faux-pas to afflict the West London club seems to have elicited sympathy for 17-year-old Swans ball-boy Charlie Morgan and earned opprobrium for Belgian international Hazard.
But I witnessed a very different scenario when reporting a Championship fixture between Watford and Bristol City at Vicarage Road in February 2011.
The Hornets employed the controversial multi-ball system back then, a method aimed at keeping the ball in play as much as possible.
Unfortunately for one young ball-boy operating on the touchline below the press box, he proved altogether too zealous in carrying out his duties.
Clearly not as well-versed in the dark arts as Master Morgan, he retrieved the ball far too quickly for Watford's defence, contributing mightily to City's opening goal in the first half.
Lewin Nyatanga found Martyn Woolford with a quickly-taken throw-in and the winger's cross was turned in by Maynard to set the Robins on course for a handsome 3-1 win.
You had to feel for the ball-boy, who was subjected to dog's abuse from irate Watford fans for the remainder of the first half. Clearly, he could not do right for doing wrong!
Of course, football has gone beyond being a parody of itself in an age where every incident is analysed to death, prompting self-righteous indignation among a public that are quick to pass judgment.
It struck me that the Watford ball-boy was pilloried for doing his job to the best of his ability, in stark contrast to Charlie Morgan, who has attained overnight celebrity out of trying to gain an unfair advantage for his team.
But then again, nothing really surprises me anymore.