Sports Action Winner, by Ryan Byrne

Ryan Byrne's remarkable image, capturing the horrendous moment of impact that broke Seamus Coleman's leg, gets 1st Prize in the Sports Action section of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland Awards for 2018.

Friday night on the Late Late Show in Ireland, Ryan Tubridy was shown a series of images by Robbie Reynolds, each being a recipient of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland Awards for 2018 (even though we're barely six weeks in!).

The one in the Sports Action category was of more than passing interest, and possible controversy, in that it depicted in vivid real-life imagery the horrendous moment of impact when Seamus Coleman's leg was broken as he was tackled by Neil Taylor in that fateful Wales vs Ireland match last March – a moment few will ever forget in terms of heart-stopping shock and the visceral anger that followed.

It struck me as odd at the time, but accurate imagery like this was considered to be "in bad taste" – to the remarkable extent that any and all live TV coverage of this horrible catastrophe was self-censored by the TV companies, with the ultimate consequence that it was virtually impossible to gain any idea of what had actually happened to result in a broken leg. So of course we assumed the worst and blamed the perpetrator: Neil Taylor of Wales.

Yes, the action in the game was certainly feisty, and the atmosphere approaching fever pitch – factors which were considered to be significant in the passion and commitment that both players showed as they converged on a loose ball that each felt they were entitled to go for. But the crunching collision that followed was worse than anyone could imagine.

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What has haunted me since that day was the vastly different perceptions developed, that ranged from "freak accident" to "premeditated and reckless endangerment" – with some fans even believing that what Taylor had done was so heinous, he should spend the same time suspended from the game as would Seamus Coleman in his protracted recovery from what was once a career-ending double fracture of fibula and tibia.

Taylor was shown an instant red card, which meant an automatic one-match ban. That was subsequently increased, on review by Fifa, to two matches... Hardly a case of the punishment fitting the crime, surely?

Thanks to excellent medical treatment, and many long long weeks in recovery and physiotherapy, Seamus is now back with us (although subsequently sidelined with an unrelated muscle injury). And mentally, this tough Irishman seems unscathed, judging by his all-action return to the field that inspired a vital victory over Leicester City.

And so now, presumably, it is no longer "too soon" to examine the circumstances of the tackle in question, for which Neil Taylor was in large part mercilessly pilloried as the perpetrator of a criminal act that had taken out one of Everton's and Ireland's favourite of players in the cruelest of circumstances.

Yet, if you can bear to look at this picture (and apparently many can't), notice the relative positions of Coleman's leg and Taylor's leg at the instant of impact, and think about the widely conveyed impression that Taylor's tackle had broken Coleman's leg, and that Taylor was entirely at fault for a reckless tackle that was the main cause of the injury.

I pause at this point because it's clear to me that Coleman was striking very hard through the ball at the instant that Taylor came in from the side, the Welshman's foot high and over the ball, but not, as I'm sure everyone assumed, directly impacting and breaking Coleman's leg. No, it's actually Coleman, striking that outstretched leg, with no doubt incredible force as he followed through, that broke the bones above his ankle, as you can clearly see in the image.


Does this change anything? Perhaps not; it was a reckless challenge by Taylor, the implication being that there was carelessness to the point of criminal negligence involved, and that it was all Taylor's fault. That is certainly how the zeitgeist foamed and fumed in the immediate aftermath – with no video footage to inform the seething social media masses.

The subsequent professional soundbytes revolved around the questionable claim made by Wales manager Chris Coleman that "Taylor is not that type of player" – quickly followed by the irrefutable observation that, "Hey, he's just broken Coleman's leg, so obviously he is that type of player!"

My feeling is that this was in the main a horrible accident, and that Taylor was simply doing his job as a committed defender in a passionate game of football, going in as we expect our players to do so in the heat of the battle. (Think of the opprobrium being heaped on Morgan Schneiderlin for lack of effort and shitting out of tough tackles on imminent goalscorers...)

Now I accept that many will not agree with that analysis, and will continue their original quest for full retribution on Neil Taylor. But I have to ask: if you had seen this photo at the time, wouldn't it have changed your perception of the tackle? Specifically the mechanics of exactly how Coleman actually broke his leg? If you had seen full video replay from every angle, and understood that it was Coleman's kicking action that was the cause, and not some side impact that could easily have done the same thing.

Think about such a tackle in the heat of the game. A loose ball, both players distant from it, running in at speed, each equally determined to win the ball. Can you really deny Taylor's effort, misjudged though it was? Or should we now equally deny Coleman's determination to get there first and fire the ball forward?

I think it was a horrible accident. We bitch and moan about football no longer being a contact sport but isn't that rather inconsistent with heaping the blame on Neil Taylor for what was largely a routine interception that was slightly but crucially mistimed?

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Reader Comments (43)

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Derek Thomas
1 Posted 18/02/2018 at 00:04:36
Looking at the picture, it would seem that Coleman hit Taylor's leg at right angles with his. Taylor blocked, Coleman swung. You can't from the picture see which way the ball is travelling and if at all anybody touched it, but it looks like Coleman got a toe to it... and the legs collided in the follow through.

Similar to McCarthy's, but the other way round.

99 times out of 100 – no broken leg.

Dick Fearon
2 Posted 19/02/2018 at 02:23:09
Although I have seen it happen, it is rare in any sport that a professional will deliberately injure an opponent. I agree that photographic evidence shows Coleman's injury was an accident.

In my own case, cameras of any kind were like hen's teeth. In Prince's Park, I was closing in on goal when I heard the opposition coach shout "Take his legs!"

Joey Brown
3 Posted 19/02/2018 at 06:50:10
You can find the video easily enough online, if you haven't seen it again. I rewatched just now to confirm my initial thought. It was a rash tackle, where he went in too high. Assigning blame to Coleman seems harsh, he went in to win the ball with ferocity but could not predict the opposing player would drop kick, miss the ball and connect with his shin.

I think it's definitely dangerous play and the red card was deserved. Never saw it as intentional and don't understand that argument. But never the less it was a horrible challenge and something that should always be avoided.

Michael Kenrick
4 Posted 19/02/2018 at 07:10:30
I just wonder about this, Joey, was the tackle really anything worse than you see every week? Players fly in like that for loose balls with reckless abandon.

No blame on Seamus, that's not the issue. More recognizing it as an accident in which the enthusiasm of both players created a very dangerous situation.

Your choice of words is telling: "connected with his shin" – but it was actually Coleman who kicked his leg!

Joey Brown
5 Posted 19/02/2018 at 08:17:13
I guess my thought is, Coleman is extending his leg in a natural motion of running to the ball and kicking or dribbling the ball, kind of hard to tell which. On the other side, look at the image as reference, Taylor is mid air, studs up, and shin high, that's basically every definition of what gets you a red card on a challenge.

Sure, week-in and week-out, players fly in with challenges, but usually it's an actual slide tackle on the ground, studs on the ground. And if it's not and they don't get the ball, it's almost always a red. He got the punishment the challenged deserved by the letter of the law and how it's observed today.

Ernie Baywood
6 Posted 19/02/2018 at 08:44:26
Coleman was striking with the laces. That's how you're supposed to do it.

No one ever tried to strike a ball with their studs. Going in with your studs is a sure way to practically eliminate the risk of injury to yourself at the expense of recklessly endangering the health of your opponent.

So I don't necessarily see it as a savage attack by Taylor. But it's still a shithouse challenge. This photo doesn't change that view at all.

It also appears to be a challenge from the side on this image. It wasn't, the challenge was nearly front on. This image is a fraction after impact.

Ernie Baywood
7 Posted 19/02/2018 at 08:57:49
Feel free to judge for yourself:
Ray Roche
8 Posted 19/02/2018 at 09:21:02
Watching the video again reaffirms my original thoughts on the tackle.

It was a bad tackle, reckless and with no thought as to the outcome. This game was being played at a fast pace and no quarter was given by either side, but Taylor's tackle was, to my mind, a cowardly attempt to get the man...a so called "hard tackle" to "let him know you're there"... Both feet off the ground and nowhere near the ball.

Deserved more than a two game ban which is what Niasse received for an apparent "dive".

Lee Mandaracas
9 Posted 19/02/2018 at 09:50:08
Not only does the video clip supplied by Ernie (7) tell a more accurate story than your photo Michael (in my opinion) due to essential angle reference, but I think the culprit's reaction says everything.

Look at the anguish displayed by Soloman Rondon for a similar incident with James McCarthy for which he was utterly innocent of any blame. Then look at the disgusting 'couldn't give a shit, it's just a tackle' reaction of Neil Taylor. Of course he's not that type of player...

Sorry but I was ready to agree with you wholeheartedly until seeing the video angle.

Bobby Mallon
10 Posted 19/02/2018 at 12:19:44
The video shows two committed players. Yes, the Welsh lad's leg is high but Seamus's momentum after he kicks the ball carries him through so his leg impacts on the Welsh lad's leg at a dodgy angle. Accident for me but also a red card as it's a reckless tackle.
Pete Clarke
11 Posted 19/02/2018 at 12:37:14
Gary Stevens could never be considered malicious but what he did to Jim Beglin was reckless and could have ended his career. He was one of our own though, so we looked at it a bit differently then.

The worst tackle I have ever seen was Vinny Jones jumping in on a Spurs player with the ball virtually on the touch line and no sign of danger. I think that player oddly enough was Gary Stephens??

Vinny Jones jumps up laughing. Now there's a man who needed locking up.

Dennis Stevens
12 Posted 19/02/2018 at 13:31:55
Pete, they were both called Gary Stevens but with different middle names. Bobby Robson selected both for the '86 World Cup squad, the joke being that he selected both to make sure he got the right one!
Anthony Hawkins
13 Posted 19/02/2018 at 13:41:27
Dennis – are you sure you don't mean Gary Stevens and Trevor Steven who were both at Mexico 86?
Pete Clarke
14 Posted 19/02/2018 at 15:45:43
I know we are slipping off the original topic here but there's a player I loved to watch. Tricky Trev.

On the real topic though. Look at that leg of Coleman and think how is he back playing football at all?? You have to be really strong mentally just to recover from that.

I did my ankles so often that I ended up buying boots rather than shoes just to wear on a night out.

Jack Convery
15 Posted 19/02/2018 at 15:51:28
The worst tackle I ever saw was Jimmy Case on Geoff Nulty at Goodsion. Case went straight though him and took out his knee. Nulty still limps to this day. As soon as it happened, I knew it was serious, Nulty just lay there and I can also remember giving the ref loads as he waved play on. Case didn't give a shit.

Another terrible tackle I witnessed was Rioch against a kid from Middlesbrough. He practically cut the kid in two. The lad just laid still and some thought he had been killed. He was defo out for the count and stretchered off. I have no idea what happened to the kid but Rioch went up to the Park End part of Goodison and played keepy-uppy with himself whilst he was treated and eventually put on a stretcher.

As for the Coleman incident, I wasn't watching but was pig sick when I heard about it. It appears to me the type of reckless challenge you get in a derby that's running on total adrenaline and were the prize is massive. Reckless and a red card was right. A 5-game ban would have sent out a stronger message that tackling must be considered and reckless challenges avoided at all costs.

Darren Hind
16 Posted 19/02/2018 at 18:44:17
I don't agree this was an "accident". Anyone who has played football will know that Taylor knew exactly what he was doing.

I'm not saying he intended to do serious damage, but it's an old old trick to make sure your foot is higher than the other guy's.

Taylor saw Seamus coming, he knew he was going to put his foot through the ball and the stiff straight leg was designed more to make Seamus think twice rather than to win the ball.

The clear difference between the two players is that only one of them is going for the ball.

I wouldn't put the tackle in the same category as the one shithouse Nolan put in on Victor Anichebe (vicious and gutless) but players have a duty of care towards each other and Taylor was reckless.

There are no circumstances where a player can justify a high straight leg in a 50/50.

John G Davies
17 Posted 19/02/2018 at 18:50:55
An old saying in football when I played "he goes high, you go higher".

Seamus didn't go high though, he went tough but fair. That sums him up as a footballer and a man. A Shitbag challenge in my opinion.

As for the Nolan tackle. I have heard Nolan described as "a hard man". He could not be more the opposite than that description.

Paul Kossoff
18 Posted 19/02/2018 at 20:02:24
I really don't see your point! Are you saying Taylor wasn't high and out of control with his actions, which he clearly was! Coleman was kicking at the ball, Taylor was in no position to do anything but lunge, out of control and reckless.

You really shouldn't be showing that picture on an Everton forum, as I said, what is your point? Unbelievable!

Paul Kossoff
19 Posted 19/02/2018 at 20:10:50
Some saying that it was Coleman's leg that made the impact, is like saying some scumbag puts a rope across a road and a cyclist runs into it and gets injured, but it was the cyclist causing the impact, not the rope!


Peter Mills
20 Posted 19/02/2018 at 20:44:30
Michael, you had a very persistent go at this immediately after the incident. Many of us disagreed with you then, it looks as though many of us still do. I fail to see why you have resurrected the argument.
George Stuart
21 Posted 19/02/2018 at 20:47:07
I vaguely remember the Case Nulty tackle. I don't think Nulty had a significant game ever after that.

While were on bad tackles, there was some Greek cunt on Jimmy Husband in the real European Cup. Managed BTW by the truely great (sic) Ferenc Puskás. They went on to beat Red Star and play Ajax in the final.

What a game that would have been: Everton v Ajax. I think we would have lost because we were off the blob, but what a game, Ball vs Cruyff and others.

Also there was the tackle on Inchy by that bastard currently commentating on the tele. Forgot his name. Quite right too. Bastard.

Darren Hind
22 Posted 19/02/2018 at 20:53:54
Brian Marwood
Christine Foster
23 Posted 19/02/2018 at 21:09:55
Talking of Jimmy Husband, I remember Dave McKay nearly cutting him in half; I think it was Everton v Derby... not sure when though.. dirty sod.
Ray Roche
24 Posted 19/02/2018 at 22:39:32
The Gerrard tackle on Naismith takes some beating. Google it. Shocking.
Jay Harris
25 Posted 19/02/2018 at 22:57:48

I remember that well and believe it's the worst tackle I've ever seen.

Michael, what you fail to observe and report on is Taylor is off the ground with studs up – as dangerous as they come and an automatic red card these days, even if you don't connect.

IMO it was a reckless challenge where emotions were running high.

Ernie Baywood
26 Posted 19/02/2018 at 23:11:21
Ray, I reckon that was one of the most deliberately targeted assaults I've seen on a pitch. Up there with Keane on Haaland. Knew exactly what he was doing.

In any era, it was unbelievable that it wasn't a red card.

Putting Taylor in that kind of category is harsh but I stand by my view that it was a cowardly, reckless challenge.

Michael Kenrick
27 Posted 20/02/2018 at 06:52:53
You have a point, Peter. My real point in raising it now is the exaltation of the photograph (which I saw for the first time yesterday) and how that contrasts with the suppression of the video coverage at the time.

I was a little surprised to see this photo at all, nevermind see it given an award, and being broadcast (and joked about) on national TV in Ireland. But I see that did cause a some reaction on social media, which made me think about what might have changed since the snowflake sensibilities of the massed TV controllers had seen fit to erase any high-definition video coverage and prevent it from being published at the time.

I confess, I didn't understand those sensitivities then, nor the Kossof (#18) reaction now. The game is being covered live, they show live action replay of every other coming together. Now we even have VAR... I believe showing the full video – that they must have had from at least three different angles – would have been a far more meaningful deterrent of such reckless tackles. But, amazing to me in this day and age of wall-to-wall TV coverage, this, of all the horrifying things put on telly, was deemed too horrible to be shown to football fans.

Yet here we have that hideous moment captured as a still, praised as a photographic achievement, and granted an award!!! I guess that had me wondering if somehow, time having elapsed and Coleman being fully recovered, this meant it was now "safe" to use the photo to examine the event in more detail than was possible back when it happened.

But the discussion here quickly went back to the poor grainy video, as if that answered everything, when it is hard to see exactly what really happened. Ernie (#6) even says the challenge was nearly front on – I'm not sure how he gets that from the video – or he has a very generous definition for 'front on'.

Ray Roche
28 Posted 20/02/2018 at 08:01:12
Ernie Baywood (#26),

On reflection, Gerrard's tackle couldn't have been THAT because he's "not that kind of a player," being England Captain and all.

And the one on Kevin Campell was just mistimed.

Steve Carse
29 Posted 20/02/2018 at 09:40:31
George (21), to be fair, I don't think Nulty had 'had a significant game' even before the Case tackle.

The tackle you mention on Husband was a shocker. Husband was on peak form at the time and the tackle, which was very early in the game, was undoubtedly strategically targeted.

Of course our boys have never been averse to the odd bit of foul play – witness for instance one of the worst tackles I've ever seen being perpetrated by Ratcliffe on Lerby in the second half of the famous Bayern semi-final. Cuts him in half. He then had the nerve to indicate to the ref that he'd won the ball!

Dennis Stevens
30 Posted 20/02/2018 at 11:21:40
Anthony Hawkins (#13) Trevor was indeed also in the '86 World Cup squad. However, we're talking here about Gary Michael Stevens of Everton & Gary Andrew Stevens of Tottenham Hotspur.

The post I'm originally responding to by Pete specifically makes reference to a Spurs player he thought was called Gary Stephens, hence my comment: "...they were both called Gary Stevens but with different middle names ." Not too sure how you confuse a lad called Trevor with the other two called Gary, even if his surname is almost the same.


Matt Williams
31 Posted 20/02/2018 at 12:14:07
Steve McMahon on John Ebrell. I think they both ended up getting stretchered off. It effectively ended Ebrell's career.
Chris Burns
32 Posted 20/02/2018 at 12:50:09
Only a tenuous link to Everton but that 1988 Neil Simpson 'tackle' on Ian Durrant is utterly horrific and no doubt the cause of most of the ongoing angst between Rangers and Aberdeen... the poor fucker gets piggy backed off too.

Not even sure Simpson got even a yellow, and Duncan gets three months in Barlinnie for that 'headbutt'. On YouTube if you can stomach it.

Jay Wood

33 Posted 20/02/2018 at 13:23:18
I'm just seeing this thread and the accompanying photo today for the first time.

I rather think Michael there is a little lack of consistency between your opening post and your follow up post @ 27.

Personally, I think the post @ 27 opens up an interesting line of debate. By contrast, your opening post, in the main, re-visits what you (and another poster) at the time of the incident tried to incessantly argue that it was an accident in that Seaumus effectively broke his own leg.

In doing so you and the other poster linked and referenced video footage (that the TV channels chose not to air live) to 'prove' your point.

Now I'm no 'snowflake' as you term it, but I know I wasn't alone in commenting at the time that I found your and the other poster's need to 'prove' your argument with video evidence a tad ghoulish.

I wasn't interested then and I'm not interested now in playing the blame game, or the nuances of the cause and culpability of Seaumus' leg break.

I just felt sickened for the lad. That very same sentiment returned a couple of weeks back with McCarthy's leg break. Again, the images were not replayed and I for one was thankful for that.

I genuinely felt nauseous and light-headed for 10-15 minutes following McCarthy's leg break, just imagining what had happened. I didn't need a slo-mo replay of the incident to confirm what was obvious.

Now maybe that is because I have seen such a leg break first hand in my playing days and perhaps I remain psychosomatically scarred as a result. It's 30+ years now, but typing this I can still see with great clarity a team mate's leg bent at an unnatural angle and the shin bone sticking through his stocking. It ain't nice...

No Michael, I much prefer the point you make in post 27:

"...the exaltation of the photograph [which you] were a little surprised to see this photo at all, nevermind see it given an award, and being broadcast (and joked about) on national TV in Ireland."

You of course chiefly link that to the absence of video replays of the incident during the live game (a call by the TV producer I personally understand, given the likely very broad viewer demographic and the time of the airing of the game).

I don't think the publishing now or the award given to this photo necessarily means as you proffer that "...somehow, time having elapsed and Coleman being fully recovered, this meant it was now "safe" to use the photo to examine the event in more detail than was possible back when it happened."

I think it is nothing more than announcing a photo prize without the deeper connotations you attempt to attach to the news.

In conclusion, I have to say the standard and entries for this particular award must have been very low.

Yes, it captures 'the moment'. But so what? With the image quality and capacity of modern digital cameras to take rapid multiple images of fast-moving sports like football, the photographer simply 'lucked out'. They were just fortunate enough to be pointing the camera at the incident as it happened, no more.

There are many iconical photos of football down the years that capture the sport and its emotions far better than this lucky 'freeze frame' moment.

Frank Wade
34 Posted 20/02/2018 at 13:46:18
Every footballer knows that the straight leg studs up 'tackle' while flying through the air at speed is dangerous to opponents. 'Reckless endangerment' is the term and this quite rightly receives a red card.

It doesn't matter, whether the victims leg was stationery or following through. Taylor should have been banned for a lot longer. Taylor could have blocked that ball easily by getting in position, but that would have hurt, him.

This was a feisty match with a lot of hard challenges from both sides, but no way can this be classified as an accident.

Ernie Baywood
35 Posted 20/02/2018 at 21:10:26
"Ernie (#6) even says the challenge was nearly front on – I'm not sure how he gets that from the video – or he has a very generous definition for 'front on'."

I'm using an understanding of playing the game, not a protractor.

It's a head on challenge where the ball isn't in playing distance. If the only way you make the distance is to jump with a straight leg, stay on your feet. Seamus got there, Taylor didn't.

A challenge from the side, where your aim is to trap or play the ball with the top of your foot, is completely different. Again, doesn't have to be a perfect 90 degrees.

Kase Chow
36 Posted 20/02/2018 at 23:27:09
Coward's tackle. Taylor IS that type of player. You are your behaviours.
Lee Mandaracas
37 Posted 21/02/2018 at 12:21:58
I'm sorry Michael but I'm starting to think you are deliberately appointing yourself as ToffeeWeb's very own Mike Parry!

Your argument based on the photograph and it's misrepresentative angle (subsequently ignoring the latterly added video) is as antagonistic as the name-calling of anyone with a different perspective to your own 'a Snowflake'!

Amazingly, given general responses, I almost expected a climb down and a 'fair comment guys, I didn't see any other evidence than this photo previously.'

In the absence of that and your continuation I now suspect this is all just a smokescreen to create a discussion, however unnecessary and straightforward the subject matter. If that is the case at least it worked. Otherwise I am baffled, but then again maybe I'm just being a Snowflake.

Michael Kenrick
38 Posted 21/02/2018 at 15:34:48
Lee, my main issue with this was the suppression of the real video – not that lousy grainy version.

That's the 'snowflake' mentality I'm referring to (not those with a different perspective on the incident itself). And contrasting it with the exaltation of this photograph now. Why is that high resolution image okay for us to see, when the high-definition video is not?

Lee Mandaracas
39 Posted 21/02/2018 at 22:10:24
I guess I misunderstood the premise of your points then, Michael, and apologise.
Ernie Baywood
40 Posted 22/02/2018 at 01:55:40
The question I'd ask, Michael, is why do we need to see the HD version?

If it's to a settle a debate then I'd suggest there are more important things in life.

Michael Kenrick
41 Posted 22/02/2018 at 07:51:34
Ernie, for myself, I needed to see the video when it happened so I could understand how it had happened. I think at the time many fans were misled by the very poor coverage which intentionally denied us seeing what this photo shows.

I think the HD video should have been mandatory viewing for footballers everywhere at the time, in the hope it may help to deter actions they take on the field that cause broken legs.

There is a debate in there about how our perceptions of a horrible event like this are formed in an instant, and the extent to which those perceptions are biased by the information (or mis-information) we are (or are not) provided with.

John Raftery
42 Posted 22/02/2018 at 20:47:06
Both feet are off the ground. It was a terrible tackle. I am sure Taylor did not set out to break a fellow professional's leg but emotions were running high in that game and Seamus, Ireland and Everton paid a huge price.

I don't subscribe to the idea the suspension should match the length of absence of the injured player but Taylor's action deserved a greater punishment than one handed out recently for spitting.

I cannot understand why TV companies are so squeamish about showing such images. No useful purpose is served by shielding the audience from the consequences of foul play or simple physical contact where foul play was not a factor. They seem to have no compunction about broadcasting boxing where people are intent on doing damage to their opponent.

Ernie Baywood
43 Posted 23/02/2018 at 20:46:23
I'm assuming it's to do with the young and squeamish that may well be watching. Maybe in part the chance of the players' family watching. When you watch boxing you have an idea what to expect.

I'm not sure I'd let my kids watch Seamus's leg get snapped. I don't want them scared of challenges.

To be honest, there was a time when I couldn't watch these breaks. Seems to have become normalised over the years.

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