Main Menu
What's New
04/05: Reports:

League Cup Semi Final Second Leg, 25/01/05, 7.45pm
By Colin Wiggins

From the moment Steven Gerrard kicked the ball away after being caught offside, things looked ominous. A nod from top Premiership referee Mr Riley, a glance back from Gerrard and the incident was over.

Rules are, of course, open to interpretation, but not this one. In response to demands for consistency, carrying on after the whistle and hoofing the ball some thirty yards away is now a mandatory yellow card offence. No interpretation allowed. No second chance.

But Mr Riley knows better. He is well acquainted with Steve Gerrard. He knows Gerrard is a great athlete playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, multi-European Champions, the Mighty Reds, the Kop, You'll Never Walk Alone. Mr Riley has officiated Liverpool matches many times. He won't have heard of Hameur... er, who is it again? And isn't Darlington a railway station?

So there must have been some mistake. The whistle rang out, shrilly. We all heard it clearly from the noisy stands. In the middle of the pitch, on a clear, cold night, it must have seemed even louder. But it's Stevie Gerrard, a giant amongst giants! He doesn't kick the ball away in frustration! Lesser players do, but not him! I will nod at him though, thinks Mr Riley, because he knows me and I know him, I've refereed him on many occasions and although we have no social contact, we both respect each other's supremacy in our respective fields. Like me, he's slumming it a bit here in this funny ground, with unknown players, where the empty main stand is falling down and where not one single worthwhile trophy has gone, ever.

Therefore the correct decision is no yellow card. Mr Riley nods to Gerrard, acknowledging that he has seen the incident and showing that he, a top Premiership official, is so supremely good at his job that he recognizes it was a mistake. Gerrard returns the nod with a glance, a silent thank-you from one top professional to another. Mr Riley carries on, safe in the knowledge that he is a Top Official.

Fast forward. Just before half-time. Young Hameur, ball at his feet, is six yards out. Finnan comes scything in, feet first, studs showing. He carves into the lad's ankles, whose legs crumble and he hits the ground. The unplayed ball rolls harmlessly on. PENALTY we all shout! Clear cut, the referee is perfectly placed, what great timing, one-all at half time, such an opportunity for the next forty-five minutes!

But the game continues. Mr Riley, five yards away sees the incident. As clear as day. No interpretation necessary. But hang on a minute, this can't be right, that shouldn't have happened...this is Liverpool! That was Steve Finnan, key member of the Republic of Ireland squad, experienced international, he has played all over the world. He just doesn't do that!

At least, not against a side, where am I again? Oh yes, Watford.


Get up kid, show some respect, you are playing Liverpool. Don't worry Mr Finnan, you're all right, I knew it was you....

See you again soon.