Saturday, 16th October 2004
The international break did us few favours. From memory the injury list read something like, Davenport, Sheringham, Mackay, Melville, Etherington, Dailly. So the omens weren't good to start with. I aded to the injury list by tweaking a knee ligament in the pre-match supporters' game which finished 3-3. This did not preclude a medicinal pint in the Vesbar which I was able to partake in thanks to the lift from the QPR fans from Old Deer Park. However, I was not impressed by the lengthy and painful detour around the ground caused by Maltese Hammer's inability to be able to read the turnstile number from the match ticket!
This was a poor match. I suspect, however, that the match hasn't yet taken place that is so poor that the appointment of Mr P Taylor of Hertfordshire couldn't make things infinitely worse. The first clue to the incompetence of this fool came whilst the box awaited a QPR corner. Gallen threw an elbow at Lomas. Twice. Lomas weaved like boxer to avoid damage to his looks (well you know what I mean!). Mr Taylor observed the incident and acted promptly. By telling Lomas off! I suppose that it was a correct decision given that Shaggy's nose could easily have done severe damage to Gallen's elbow. Once the lecture was over the players returned to the middle whereupon Gallen proceeded to stamp on Lomas in full view Mr Taylor. Mr Taylor's reaction – a jolly smile and a laugh. So we have a player who has committed THREE sending off offences in little more than a minute escaping totally unpunished as a result of a spineless, incompetent, disgrace of a referee. Law 12 Mr Taylor. Violent Conduct. Read it.
Mr Taylor managed to excel himself on 22 minutes. Furlong bundled Rebrov into the crowd. Mr Taylor saw this quite clearly. We know this because Mr Taylor cautioned Furlong. But only after the ball had been played out to the QPR left and inside Mullins for Rose to score putting the ball past Bywater inside the far post. So it was a yellow card but not a free-kick. No I'm not sure of the thinking behind that one either. It was a stupid decision from an incredibly stupid man.
Chances in the match were at a premium. The general pattern of play would be that they couldn't string three passes together whilst we couldn't string two. On the few occasions we did appear to be able to force anything, Mr Taylor was always on hand to mess things up. A Rebrov free-kick found Zamora at the far post. The header was far from powerful but was at least heading in the direction of the goal before being turned round the post by a defender's hand. It was a deliberate action seen by the referee but again, was ignored.
Another incident occurred in the same part of the pitch from whence Rebrov had been kicked into touch. A QPR player lost the ball which ran to Powell. Powell sidestepped another player but was caught as he did so. The referee was a mere three yards away but missed the foul. Well he did have a reasonable excuse this time I suppose. After all it must be difficult to spot a foul when you have your back to the ball. Perhaps he'd spotted someone he knew in the crowd. Who knows? Thankfully at least the linesman had his mind on the job in hand.
The appearance of an enormous bumble bee flying in front of us before half time – in October – was strange but was still far more entertaining and believable than anything that happened on the pitch. The half ended much as it had continued throughout – poorly – with the referee requiring an escort from the pitch by the stewards.
The second half? Much the same really. Bircham was finally yellow carded after his fifth cautionable offence (and believe me I'm being kind to Bircham in adding up that total) for a crude lunge on Rebrov whilst a genuine attempt to block by the Ukranian merited an instant caution. Reo-Coker burst through the middle only to be sandwiched by two defenders as he bore down on goal. No free-kick.
Shittu or Santos – I forget which – hauled down Zamora with a bear hug. I would dearly love to hear an explanation from Mr Taylor as to his failure to act on this one. I mean it's not like you can acidentally grab someone around the waist is it – (though I may be tempted to use that excuse if I ever get to meet TV's Samantha Janus – you never know Mr Taylor may be the magistrate!).
Zamora was further denied a penalty when blocked off by a forearm smash across his windpipe in a challenge that made you wonder whether or not Mr Taylor's copy of the Laws Of The Game actually contains the pages relating to Law 12. Hilariously the QPR fans decided to boo Zamora for diving.
Meanwhile Bircham continued to rack up the offences. Fouls on Rebrov, Lomas and Reo-Coker (twice) incurred free-kicks but no further sanction whilst the bundling of Repka into the crowd gained a free-kick but no card in a neatly symetrical mirror image of the referee's earlier stupidity. Since the referee's mind was elsewhere it was left to Bywater to run to the halfway line to remonstrate with Bircham.
There were a couple of free kicks from Rebrov awarded when Mr Taylor's “referee by guesswork” finally paid dividends on the law of averages but these were comfortably dealt with by Day in the QPR goal.
There were a couple of changes in personnel – Cohen replaced Chadwick and, amazingly, considering his failure to turn up for a proposed loan deal at Forest, Hutchison replaced Zamora. Neither could exert any influence on proceedings and the game ended with a loose ball finding Harewood only to be dispatched into the upper tier.
In reading this report it might appear that I am trying to excuse our performance by blaming things on the referee. That is not the case. We were truly awful make no mistake about that and we certainly deserved little from the game – maybe a point if you stretch the imagination to breaking point. It's just that when you do a match report you have to do so with refence to the incidents that happen throughout the match (hence the cunning name - “Match Report” I suppose!). In reviewing my notes, just about everything that happened in this match was inspired one way or another by the actions or inactions of Mr Taylor. So, in away, I am very grateful to Mr Taylor because with a proper referee in charge a short match report would have been even shorter.
Post match I hobbled back to Shepherd's Bush where, in a flagrant breach of my civil liberties, the Metropolitan Police decided that I – and anyone else who fancied one – should be denied the opportunity to go about the lawful process of enjoying a drink. All pubs in the area were closed and with an aching knee and a sore throat the last thing I needed was a trek to find a hostelry. Thankfully Kieran came to the rescue and several of us were able to get some value for money out of the licence fee by gaining access to the BBC bar at the nearby BBC TV Centre. Bonehead's directions were truly hilarious. The entrance was supposed to be about “1000 yards south of White City tube”. Mate it isn't even 1,000 inches away!
Despite an accidental detour to the 7th floor when Kieran forgot he wasn't actually on his way to work, I looked and looked but couldn't find TV's Samantha Janus so my plan to re-enact the Zamora penalty incident by putting my arms round her was sadly foiled. A few subsidised San Miguels enabled Bonehead & I to put the world to rights, a discussion that included a debate on the dumbing down of Britain and whether this was caused by or merely reflected by the output of the corporation in whose bar we were drinking. It was only some time later that the irony of discussing Dumb Britain with somebody who confused “1,000 yards” with “30 feet” actually struck me!
However, the final word on the day's events has to relate to our chum Mr Taylor. I wonder if the time has come for referees to face random drug tests in the same way as players? As someone said to me yesterday - “he's wandering round like he's been concussed” . Or as a QPR fan I spoke to on the way back from the ground told his young lad - “no son, Santos wasn't our man of the match, the ref was!”. Maybe the time has come to make performance enhancing pharmecuticals compulsory for match officials!
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Not much to do really. Dropped a cross in the second half though he appeared to be under illegal pressure from a QPR forward at the time.
Seemed incapable of finding a team-mate and slipped at a vital moment in the build-up to the goal.
Solid and dependable without pulling up any trees. Seemed to be one of the few that cared as evidenced by his having to be pulled away from the ref at full time whilst trying to seek an explanation for some of the ref's more bizzarre decisions.
Another solid game – and this in spite of having to deal with Furlong who has this habit of leaving a late foot in from time to time.
Perhaps not 100% fit but pressed into service in view of the fact that just about every other defender in the club is on the treatment table. Looks better in his preferred central position but still needs to differentiate between those moments when it's ok to play out of defence and those when row Z is the preferred option.
One would have hoped for Lomas to have been inspired by Gallen's early assaults on his person but sadly this was not the case. Little impact on the game.
Another one who tried but with little success. Victim of an unpunished shocking double foul when taken out by two defenders simultaneously.
Failed to make any sort of impact whatsoever. The early form and willingness to take people on has sadly disappeared for the present.
Tried to take players on and showed occasional good touches. Picked up a yellow card for a nothing challenge.
On another day, with a qualified ref in charge (rather than someone who just happened to be passing on his way back to his halfway house day-care centre) he might have gained 3 spot kicks for his efforts. Still not a particularly impressive match.
I have defended Harewood to the hilt against some of his critics when he has been villified for performances that were actually not bad. However, on this occasion he was poor. Simple as that.
(Replaced Chadwick, 66) I worried when he came on that he might fall foul of the ref's eccentricities but he failed to register on the ref's radar. Or mine for that matter.
(Replaced Etherington, 45) Strange this one. One would have thought that failing to turn up for a loan deal would hardly have endeared you to a manager who has already said that your'e not in his plans. So one can only assume that his appearance on the bench was a simple result of the absence of 6 frirst team regulars. Not really on for long enough to make an impact.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Tomas Repka.
West Ham United
Booked: Sergei Rebrov 68 Tomas Repka 80 .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Day, Bignot, Shittu, Rose, Santos, Cook, Rowlands, Bircham, Gallen, Cureton, Furlong.
Substitutes: McLeod (Cureton 85), Branco (Bircham 90), Padula (Shittu 90).
Subs not used: Edghill, Bean.
Goals: Rose (21).
Booked: Rowlands (52), Bircham (63).
Sent Off: None sent off..