The Monday Column

Just to re-iterate, this story is by Jim Foster NOT Jim Bonner (i.e. Me) So you Fratton Faithful readers now have two Jim's writing and ranting about everything blue.. you lucky people!

The Monday Column

It’s funny how your perception of a game from the stands can differ from how you view it later on television. When I left the match on Saturday evening I was seething mad. Crazy with rage! Impotent with anger! Just as well I left early, really, as if the Chelsea fans had been spilling out of the Milton End when I went past I would have decked them all, one after the other, such was my infuriation after the game (only joking. I wouldn’t say boo to a goose, me).

Why? Because I felt that, yet again, Pompey hadn’t tried as hard as they could have and, yet again this season, I reckoned that we’d been done over by a crap referee at Fratton Park.

But all was not quite as I’d perceived it. Referee Dowd, I take the abuse I dished out to you (along with 19,000 other Pompey fans) back temporarily after seeing the penalty incident on TV. I was convinced it was a dive when I was watching it live at Fratton; but slow motion replays on MOTD 2 on Sunday night clearly demonstrated otherwise.

Yes, Dejan had indeed taken Joe’s feet from under him and a penalty it was – one of the more cast-iron you’ll see this season. In fact, I think the hostility of the crowd towards the man in black probably influenced him to bottle the second penalty claim Chelsea had, which to me looked inside the area rather than outside.

I sometimes wonder if refs, when faced with difficult decisions like that, bow to the pressure of the crowd. I reckon that, because Chelsea had already won (barring a miracle), Dowd didn’t want to antagonise the crowd any more – therefore he gave a free kick rather than another penalty. Because let’s face it, he could have been lynched if he had given another spot-kick!

Only Mr Dowd can answer that one, but I’ll bet that – consciously or not – that’s what he was thinking. So maybe we owe him a debt of thanks for keeping our goal difference down by one.

If you read this Mr Dowd, which I doubt you will, note that I said I was taking my abuse back ‘temporarily’! This is because you were pretty shocking in the middle of the park. It seemed to me that you gave undue protection to the Chelsea all-stars, and when similar fouls were committed against Pompey players you simply waved play on.

There was one cracker of a decision in the first half where you really did muck up. The ball was clearly handled by Carlton Cole in Pompey’s half. We all saw it. Carlton even looked like a mischievous schoolboy who’d been rumbled smoking a fag behind the bike sheds just after he did it.

But did you give a freekick? Nah! And you had no intention of doing so, either. Then, a couple of seconds later, you had the audacity to wave an advantage for Pompey – for a decision you were never going to give in the first place!!! If you were going to give it, then you had had enough time already to have blown the whistle. Oh Mr Dowd how we laughed in the North Stand at your ineptitude at that moment.

The other matter that looked completely different on TV to how it was in reality was the Crespo goal. I don’t like Crespo. He’s from Argentina for starters and sings songs about English people being ‘poofs’. (Love the haircut Hernan. Oh, and I’d also LOVE you to say that to the face of my mate Chilly, who was in the Paras during the Falklands. I think he’d be most displeased and might just give you a slap. You think he’s a poof? Tell him that after he’s told you about the battle for Goose Green and all its horrors).

The trouble with Crespo, apart from all this, is that he has a habit of scoring goals against us at Fratton. That was his second in three visits. Initially I thought his goal on Saturday was a fluke. A bit like the one he scored when a Jimmy Floyd shot came back to him off the bar two years ago.

This time the shot came in from Fereira and I didn’t think much of it – Ashdown had it covered and I looked forward to the ball being cleared back up the pitch again, and us going in at half time all square.

But then it was in the back of the net. ‘Bugger,’ I thought.

I also thought that the ball had taken an almighty deflection off Crespo and bemoaned Pompey’s bad luck to my mate Big Tim, who then started his weekly ranting about Lee Bradbury and tea parties (think he’s losing it).

I was also angry because, from the angle I view the game at from the North Stand, it looked like three Chelsea players were offside when the shot came in. So I gave the linesman some pointless abuse (pointless because he wouldn’t have heard me from the other side of the pitch) while my other mate, Gav, tried to calm me down by pointing out that, if it HAD been offside, Pompey’s players would be complaining. And only Priske raised his hands in a show of doubt at the decision.

So there we go. All those ‘cheat’ chants I directed at the ref weren’t entirely fair, neither were all the ‘wanker’ chants I directed at the linesman. It just goes to show how watching a game on TV is completely different to seeing it live – and might go some way toward explaining how some newspaper reports can be so wide of the mark when you read them on a Sunday morning.

Indeed, the report in the Times this morning accused Pompey players of being ‘bully boys’. It also said we hassled and harried and worked really hard. Er, you what? Not from what I saw. Some of the Chelsea players seemed to have the freedom of Fratton at some stages during the game. Lampard was allowed to stroll around gaily, ball at feet, without much in the way of bullying tactics at all. Compared to our performance last year against Chelsea, when we also lost 2-0, we were shocking. Nowhere near as good.

And it wasn’t as if the likes of Essien were completely innocent of putting the odd two-footed tackle in, was it? But I didn’t see any Chelsea players go in the book.

Back to Joe Cole now. Okay, so he did appear to go over remarkably often and too easily, but I did decide after watching MOTD2 last night that he put in a sensational performance that ran our defence ragged – and that I would still cheer him on for England at the World Cup next year. So fair dos to him. If it had been Dario Silva doing that to John Terry, we would be hero-worshipping him!

Talking of Silva, what the f*ck was going on there? The bloke was more anonymous than the invisible man in that crap film with Kevin Bacon in it. The number of times a cross would come in only for me to see Silva standing around doing nothing just outside the area was amazing!

On one occasion, Matty Taylor put in an awesome cross from the left touchline at the Milton End – and there was only one Pompey player attacking it. Who? Gary O’Neil! Silva was nowhere. After going AWOL after his last international break, I get the feeling that Mr Silva isn’t enjoying his stay on the south coast and that maybe, just maybe, he wants to go somewhere a bit warmer. We will see – but he hasn’t exactly set the world alight since coming here, has he? One nice goal and one against Sunderland that doesn’t really count. Why? Because it was against arguably the worst team ever in Premiership history.

Before I finish my views on the weekend’s events, I would like to make a few comments about George Best.

It’s a difficult one, this. I am 33 years of age and never knew George Best the footballer. I never saw him play, like my father before me. Neither did I know George Best the human being, as Milan Manderic did.

So my view of him as a man, along with many others my age, was probably clouded by his off-field antics – particularly in the last few years when his problems with the booze and women really started to mount up.

I didn’t approve of his violent streak towards women when he’d been drinking, and I certainly didn’t approve of his total disrespect towards the person who donated his or her liver to him in 2002. Who did Mr Best think he was to do that?

However – and I do stress however – who am I to judge all this? After all, I never met the man, did I? So how can I judge someone I never talked to, got to know, or watched play football?

I found the minute of applause difficult, because of the above reasons. As much I made the conscious decision not to join in the applause, I did show my respect by standing in silence. He is due respect if only for the enjoyment he brought to many thousands of people through his incredible football skills. That has not been brought into question and deserves to be recognised.

I guess also that George Best was a victim. A victim of the first wave of celebrity-ism, and of all the pressures that that kind of media attention and the paparazzi abuse that goes with it brings. And once hooked on booze, it’s a long way back. So I say again, who am I to know or judge someone because he was suffering from a disease that I will never know anything about? Too many people said he was a nice guy, but I wonder how Alex Best feels now, or any of the other women he may or may not have spent time with.

Perhaps some of us should spare a thought for those people at this time, and for Milan, who has lost a dear friend.

What I did find strange was this. Was the applause prompted by someone playing applause over the tannoy system? The same with the ‘there’s only one Georgie best’ chant. It all seemed to start over the loud speakers, and me being the conspiracy theorist I am, I reckon that clubs might have been asked on the quiet to do that to drown out anyone who might have shouted out abuse? Did anyone else notice this?

Anyway, it’s snowing outside, so I’m going to go now. I’ll leave you with my token interview with a fellow employee who supports Chelsea. He’s a bit of a sad bastard really as he only started supporting them… well, guess when. Yes, when they started winning. Before that he was seen at Highfield Road occasionally supporting his local team, Coventry.

He plays five-a-side with us on a Thursday night and turned up one evening wearing his Chelsea top. Needless to say he got some severe abuse, and is about to now! Why do people have to associate themselves with someone else’s success like this? It must be a psychological disorder…

Friggin’ glory hunters! I hate ‘em!!!

Jim Foster (JF): Hello Peter Holmes (PH). Tell us about Chelsea. What did you think about how they played on Saturday?

PH: Erm, well I bought the game on Prem Plus - £7 it cost me. True Chelsea fan me, money to burn. I thought they were awesome. Joe Cole was particularly good. He deserved his man of the match and should have got a second penalty.

JF: Well I agree with that, but what did you think of Pompey’s tactics? What formation were we playing?

PH: (Silence – Pete doesn’t know). You’re a bastard.

JF: Why am I a bastard?

PH: I only look at my own team.

JF: So you don’t know anything about tactics then! Who’s your next game against?

PH: You’re doing this on purpose aren’t you (at this stage Pete asks Justin, who’s sat next to him, to log on to to find out who they are playing next. He doesn’t even know it’s against Liverpool in the week in the Champions’ League).

JF: Who’s been your player of the season so far and why?

PH: Probably Frank Lampard because he’s awesome and some of the goals he’s scored are awesome and I love him and oh if he was a girl I’d WANT him!

JF: When was the last time you went to Stamford Bridge?

PH: Er, never been.

JF: You what?

PH: Don’t have time. Too far away.

JF: Where do you live then?

PH: Yelvertoft.

JF: Right. That explains it. Seen any werewolves recently? Actually I won’t go there. So what do you usually do on a Saturday afternoon then Pete?

PH: Watch the results come in on Sky Sports and get up to stuff with the girlfriend. You know?

JF: Ooooh er. Tell me more. Is she fit?

PH: Her dad’s a Millwall fan and he shut the door in my face when I turned up at his house in my Chelsea kit last week.

JF: Ha ha! Lucky you weren’t beaten up. Anything else you want to add about your rather sad footballing loyalties and knowledge?

PH: No.

JF: You sad bastard!!