Hopes of a return to normality when the work week began that Monday morning were voided as soon as he walked through the front doors. Immediately, a pretty young secretary, not quite out of her teens rushed up to him throwing her arms around his neck and giving him a big kiss on the cheek. A middle aged female manager gave him a bear hug while whispering in his ear, “The women of Britain are proud of you.” His closest friend at the firm, Harry Tilsley, clapped him on the back while telling him, “You got Fonsecca good.” He then produced several copies of sports pages from the Sunday and Monday papers, including the one his girlfriend had shone him. Andy’s eyes momentarily lit up at the headline, “Fonsecca Crocked!” and “Just Desserts For A Rapist!” Even his boss told him how impressed he was with the tackle. Andy couldn’t help but feeling pleased with himself and thinking that he had done the country a great service.
He hoped the match was behind him when he reported for training on the Tuesday evening. Upon arrival, a teammate informed him that the manager wanted to see him in his office. Obediently, he went straight there thinking he was going to get a well deserved dressing down for his sending off.
Looking up at him, Manager Drury informed his midfielder, “The FA has suspended you pending a hearing.” Seeing Andy’s surprised look, he added, “We were beginning to dominate that match until you committed that foul and got sent off. Look, personally, I’m glad you got that Spanish thug but it cost us the match. You let the team down.” Andy couldn’t help but to agree with his manager.
While he tried his best to ignore the publicity gained from his tackle on Felipe Fonsecca during the nine days leading up to his hearing with the FA, it seemed to follow him everyhwere he went. Naturally, he had the backing of his family, friends, colleagues and teammates and several women’s groups applauded his courage for defending women, the media, on the other hand, were more divided.
Every newspaper, big and small, seemed to have an opinion on Andy’s foul. One columnist thanked him for doing to Fonsecca what everyone in the UK secretly wanted to do. Another agreed with his girlfriend’s father’s call for him to be knighted. Most, however, took the more neutral road by saying that they sympathised with his reasons but crippling Fonsecca was not the way to go about it. Of course, there were some columnists on the other side of the fence. One called Andy a bigger thug than Vinny Jones while another said he should be banned from football for life. The sports press all seemed to be against him.
Thoughts and emotions bounced around his head like a pinball as Andy went into his hearing with the Football Association. They didn’t lessen any when he stood before the FA Disciplinary Committee and only increased when they asked him why he did it. He wanted to be truthful but at the same time didn’t want to hang himself either. “A few minutes earlier, I cleanly took the ball off of him and he said something to me in Spanish. Whatever it was, it didn’t sound friendly,” he attempted to explain.
“Do you feel that Felipe Fonsecca should have been allowed back into football after his release from prison?” an unknown face on the committee asked him.
Again, Andy wanted to tell the truth without hanging himself. “I didn’t think he should have been allowed back in the game so easily,” he began. “After all, he committed a rape and hasn’t even apologised to his victim for what he put her through. I am genuinely sorry for the injury I caused to Felipe Fonsecca.”
He braced himself for the FA’ decision and hoped that his plea was enough to convince the committee to be lenient with him. When they returned an hour later, hoped that would be a good omen on his behalf. His heart missed a beat as the committee chairman announced the decision.
“You thought that brinigng down Fonsecca would make you some kind of hero in the media and the eyes of the nation. While we don’t condone what Felipe Fonsecca has done, he has served his time and it doesn’t give you or any other player the right to exact justice against him on the pitch. We will not tolerate vigilantes in football. Taking everything into account, the FA has decided to suspend you from football for a period of three months. This includes coaching or working in anyway with teams in the Football Association.”
Interest in Andy’s suspension lasted for only two days in the media and only for four on social media. Still, it was long enough for the White Hart Lane Firm to post on his wall, “The FA let you off lightly, we won’t.” Even the death threats subsided rather quickly. Instead, he concentrated his life outside of football. Most importantly, repairing his relationship with his girlfriend, Charlotte, which he did so well, that they got engaged four weeks later.
If it hadn’t been so much in the sports pages, most people would have never known about Fonsecca’s supposedly miraculous recovery. Having some of the best medical practitioners money could buy had a lot to do with it. What it meant was that on a typical Saturday afternoon in April at White Hart Lane, in the seventy-fifth minute and leading 3-0 against a team that was destined for relegation, Felipe Fonsecca stepped onto the pitch to a rapturous ovation. Those fifteen minutes he was on the pitch made little impact on the match but Tottenham fans were glad to see their hero back.
Andy’s ban ended two weeks later and he dutifully reported for training. Techincally, his first session back went well and all of his teammates were certainly glad to see him. In the one match he played, his game was clinically sound. He dominated the midfield just like he had done in the match against Spurs before he was sent off. He sent more than one perfect balls into the box and with two of those, Jason’s shot found the back of the net. However, when he made a clean sliding tackle against an opponent, stripping the ball off of him, the opposing player remarked, “Great tackle, but then again, I didn’t rape anyone.” He knew then something just didn’t feel right. His heart was no longer in the game, so after that match, Andy formally retired from football.