For most of us, international breaks and cup weekends (when we’re long gone from any cups) are a bore. For Pete Sixsmith, they just mean more chances to catch proper football at grass roots level, as well as taking a Rugby League man’s passing swipe at the Rugby Union so beloved of M Salut’s brother, a ref and former player …
There are some sports that I really don’t like. Rugby Union is the prime example: all those lantern jawed, public school types, banging and crashing around and sticking their heads up each other’s bottoms. Ugh. For me, an afternoon at a Rugby Union game would be almost as bad as a day at a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
I don’t see the point in machines chasing each other round a track. Men and women on the backs of animals, yes, but men and women sat in a machine, no. It’s a recipe for noisy boredom at Sixsmith Towers.
It seems the vertically challenged owner of Formula1, Bernie Ecclestone also finds the “sport” a tad boring as I read yesterday that he was considering watering tracks to make them more slippery, thus ensuring a more enjoyable and thrilling race. It may mean more casualties, but what the hell.
So, it got me thinking about what we could do to beef up the matchday experience at the Stadium of Light. That’s been a bit flat recently seeing as we have only won one of our last six home games as we hit the traditional post-Christmas slump.
Here, then, are a few ideas for Ellis, Niall and our creative chums at the FA to consider. Who knows? It might just make our occasional Saturday visits to the SoL more entertaining.
* Let’s do what Bishop Auckland have done at their new stadium and lay rolls of turf at different levels from the one next to it. This would mean that there would be a gradient running from the East Stand to the West Stand; much more fun watching a grafting midfield player slogging uphill as he attempted to move the ball sideways. Might encourage one or two of ours to get it forward a wee bit quicker.
* Place an electronic cell around the penalty area that will emit a whining sound whenever someone sets foot in it. That would help the referee and his assistants to get it right if there is a doubtful call. They could turn it off when Liverpool play at the SoL because their players’ whining would drown it out.
* Have a huge inflatable referee at either end who could signify by a nod or shake of the head whether it is a corner, a goal kick, or a totally incomprehensible decision given to Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool – the Big 4 so beloved by fans throughout the nation. If no large inflatable’s are available, they could use Lee Probert.
* Have a power play situation, where a player is removed from the pitch and is not allowed to return until one of his team mates scores. That would eliminate the pointless sendings off that John Mensah, Michael Turner and Kenwyne Jones have suffered in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, with our current scoring reord we would consistently play with 10 men.
If you are thinking that I sound just a tiny bit disillusioned with the FA Premier League, you are just a tiny bit right. Sunday was a bitterly disappointing day, where one poor team overcame another thanks to some ludicrous refereeing decisions. The rescinding of Mensah’s red card was a real slap in the face for Messrs Friend and Smallwood, who should not be seen at a Premier League ground near you for quite a while.
Unfortunately, they may be sent to weave their own particular brand of disaster management down in the lower leagues, which would be a great shame for those hardy spectators who frequent the Evo Stick Northern Premier, STL Northern League and the many others that make up our pyramid system.
I saw a good referee and a cracking game at Durham City last night. Curzon Ashton, from Greater Manchester were the visitors and came north in a splendid luxury coach. They are pushing for a play-off place and obviously subscribe to the view that happy players are successful players.
They had an outstanding one in Phil Edghill. He is a tall, rangy midfield player who ran the centre of the park after his colleague James Ogoo had been sent off for a poor two-footed challenge. To his credit, Ogoo did not remonstrate and went straight away. It left Edghill to try and keep Curzon’s midfield on top. It wasn’t his fault that a former Sunderland reserve David Dowson rattled in a splendid equaliser.
Edghill is a PE Teacher, so I presume he had done a hard day with his students in a Manchester school, caught the bus, sat for 2 hours, run his nuts off for 90 minutes and then slept on the bus home before returning to work this morning. Most of the other players on the field would have done something similar.
Edghill’s brother was Richard Edghill, a contemporary of Jeff Whitley’s at Manchester City and a target for the Maine Road boo boys if my memory serves me correctly.
Now, City fans no longer have the likes of Edghill and Whitley to enjoy cheap laughs at – they can have extremely expensive ones at the likes of the increasingly absurd Mario Balotelli and the North West’s equivalent of Rod Belfitt, Erwin Dzeko.
But back to Durham. It was all good fun, enough to make up a little for Sunday’s letdown. Just don’t let Jamie Carragher and Kevin Friend anywhere near the Evo-Stik First Division North league.