Jan 25 2012 By Chris Slavin
REALITY FC’s players have suffered online humiliation for breaking club discipline and have been threatened with the sack for criticising referees.
But washing the team kit and putting up the goalposts are just some of the punishments that are part of being involved with the South Harrow club.
The Middlesex Sunday League Division Five outfit’s exploits since forming last summer may have been mediocre so far, but there is nothing average about this club, which plays its matches at Roxeth Recreation Ground.
Reality FC’s 300 members have added a new dimension to Conference side Ebbsfleet United’s idea of allowing fans to decide on team selection, tactics and formations.
The club first had to get approval to play competitively as Middlesex FA was concerned that Reality FC’s concept would be open to abuse, for example members selecting a striker to play in goal. That would have gone against Middlesex FA’s principle of teams fielding their strongest sides and Reality FC had to adjust their online options in response.
But after clearing the red tape and a slow start, Reality FC chairman Dave Preece says his idea has taken off, with both players and members lapping up online video highlights, post-match interviews and footage of dressing room rows.
“We struggled at first as we only had 25 members on our website and people did not really understand the concept,” he said.
“We went with the first 20 players we could get, but now we have a waiting list of 20 players and we were thinking of opening a January transfer window. I felt it would be unfair though to just sign the best players.
“It has been great fun – the players love it as they cannot wait to see themselves on the highlights.
“Also, when we had a player fall-out earlier in the season, they both had to wash the kit and put the goals up after a vote on our website.
“Our highest viewing for match highlights was 1,400, but we usually get at least 300 on average.”
Preece, 34, who combines playing with managerial duties on the day, added that the club’s members faced a tough decision when Reality FC player Stuart Duce was red-carded and sounded off about the referee.
“We gave the option that we could sack him as a player,” admitted Preece. “We do not want to be like clubs in the Premier League with players and management criticising referees. It was up to the managers and we ended up giving him an official warning that if anything like that happened again, he would be released.”
Middlesex FA, having been sceptical about Reality FA at first, would certainly approve of such measures to promote respect in