Category Archives: Terrace Talk

Unlikely Rivals

Usually your team’s rivals are based fairly near to where your team is located. Tottenham and Arsenal, Southampton and Portsmouth, Everton and Liverpool etc.

So although there is no obvious geographical connection between Crystal Palace and Brighton the two teams sets of fans absolutely hate each other.

It all dates back to the 1976/77 season when Terry Venables and Alan Mullery were the respective managers and the two teams were battling to get out of the old Third Division. The two teams would meet five times that season and thanks to a number of crowd incidents, questionable refereeing decisions and particularly aggressive matches a rivalry was born.

The highlight (for want of a better word) was a Crystal Palace fan allegedly throwing a cup of boiling coffee over Mullery only for the Brighton manager to throw a handful of change on the floor and exclaim “That’s all your worth Crystal Palace!” Mullery would of course go on to manage Palace for two seasons under chairman Ron Noades. I’m sure the when news of the appointment broke it would have made Rafa Benitez look popular!

Ask any Palace fan and despite Millwall and Charlton also featuring on their list of rivals it is Brighton who they despise the most. The rivalry only intensified last season as the South London club convinced Brighton’s top scorer Glenn Murray to join on a free transfer.

Murray would go on to score in a 3-1 win over the Seagulls. A result which meant Crystal Palace became the first team to beat Brighton in a competitive fixture at their new AMEX Stadium.

So with the team’s best of friends it was sure to be a tame affair when they met at Selhurst Park for the first time this season wasn’t it? Well as it turns out, no. It ended 3-0 in Palace’s favour with a certain ex-Brighton favourite scoring a brace.

In a predictably spicy affair Brighton were reduced to 10 men after only 7 minutes when winger Yannick Bolasie was brought down clumsily by defender Lewis Dunk. The dismissal was followed later by two penalties which undoubtedly left Brighton fans wondering what they had done to annoy referee Mick Russel.

The victory sees the Eagles reclaim their spot at the top of the table as the South London club look to ensure their promotion the Premier League for the first time since they were relegated in 2005.

Bizarre or not the rivalry shows no signs of abating, particularly if the fireworks continue to fly on the pitch. Incidents like the one on Saturday help to bring the rivalry up to date for many fans who are simply too young to know why they should hate another club which is almost 50 miles away.

The Eagles v. The Seagulls, it’s almost like something out of the NFL.

Robert Lock

Leave Becks alone

David Beckham recently announced he is leaving MLS team LA Galaxy and is looking to move to another team for “one last challenge”.

At 37 Beckham is likely to only be a bit part player if he goes to join a team in any serious league in the world, he’s not going to be starting every week for PSG is he!

The French club are reportedly chasing his signature along with a host of other teams bent on employing Brand Beckham and all the hype and shirt sales that comes with it.

David Beckham may not be the player he once was, far from it, but who among us would deny him the opportunity to have one last crack at the whip? He has claimed he wants one last hurrah before he hangs up his boots and calls time on an illustrious and celebrated career.

So I was surprised to read that some journalists have been critical of Beckham’s decision to carry on playing and that he should simply call it a day now. That he is only looking to move club to engineer one last big pay day before he retires.

I could not disagree more with that argument. Whilst some players do look to move clubs in the twilight years of their playing careers to ensure they have enough money to retire on I don’t think Beckham needs the money somehow.

He could retire today and still have enough leftover cash to fund the Hollywood lifestyle.

So on that basis I would hope his reason for leaving is based purely on football and not on any commercial venture.

The only question that remains is where will the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man end up? If the rumours are to be believed, and there are a lot of them, then he will head to the French leagues to play for either PSG or Monaco. Both of which would of course suit a luxury lifestyle.

I can’t see Beckham returning to the Premier League no matter how much tabloid headline writers want it to happen. The only serious offer on the table is apparently from struggling QPR and I doubt Beckham has given their offer any serious thought.

However having spent 5 years in the States with Galaxy there are serious doubts about his ability to deliver at the top level, few players manage to maintain such high standards into the tail end of their careers.

Ironically however two that have managed it are Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, former teammates and graduates of the same Manchester United academy in the 1990’s.

At 37 this move is surely to be nothing more than a last hurrah. But I think we should applaud Beckham, not deride him, for the man who changed so much about football in this country and indeed the world won’t be around for much longer.

Let’s enjoy him while we still can. He might not be the player he once was, few are at 37, but let him see out his final years on the pitch without questioning his reasons for being there.

Robert Lock

L’enfant Terrible

Joey Barton is a man who knows how to divide opinion.

Some see Joseph, as he is known on Twitter, as a maverick. A thinking man’s footballer who is not afraid to speak his mind and share his opinion even if it considered controversial.

And there are those who see him as a petulant, arrogant and egotistical young man who tries to pass himself off as cultured by quoting philosophers and labelling himself a pacifist.

How a man who is noted for his aggressive style of play and who once of stubbed a cigar out in a teammates eye can call himself a “pacifist” is beyond me. He’s not exactly Ghandi let’s put it that way.

And in the wake of his dreadful faux French accent in a recent press conference for Marseille Barton has taken it upon himself to cast doubt on QPR’s survival chances this season.

I know Barton is not the most popular with QPR fans after his explosive dismissal at the end of last season which could have quite conceivably seen the West London club relegated had results not gone their way.

But his recent comments, although true, surely mean there is no way back for the former Manchester City man when his loan at Marseille comes to an end.

Barton is technically still a QPR player and as such should not publicly criticise the club and cast doubt over their relegation chances.

He claimed in an interview that unless things at Loftus Road change and the group of talented individuals start playing as a team then they will more than likely be playing in the Championship next season.

Whilst in my opinion this is a fair and factual comment I doubt QPR fans would like to hear it coming from Joey Barton. Irrespective of his self-imposed exile to Ligue 1 surely he should not be allowed to speculate on his parent club in such a way.

Joey Barton has made no secret of his desire to stay with the French club so perhaps this is just his way of ensuring that he burns all bridges with QPR and engineers a transfer to Marseille when his loan spell comes to an end.

Whatever the reason or motive for his comments one thing is certain, QPR fans won’t be seeing Barton wearing blue and white hoops anytime soon.

And I doubt too many of them will be upset by that. Au Revior Joseph.

Robert Lock

If that was at the other end… (Video)

When your team scores an own goal it has to be one of the most infuriating and frustrating feelings in the world.

Most own goals are scrappy 6-yard box affairs when the ball bobbles up and off the shin of an unfortunate defender and into the back of the net.

But there are some own goals which are so breathtakingly brilliant if they were to be scored at the other end they would be serious contenders for goal of the season.

Goals which make you stare and exclaim “How did he manage that?”

Here’s one of my all time, at loss for a better word, favourites from recent years.

It happened it a Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Portsmouth in 2004 with the Eagles fighting to stay in the top flight.

Now I’ve watched this video many times and I’m still not quite sure how Tony Popovic manages to do this.

Readers please feel free to contribute with any OG’s which you think can better this one.

Robert Lock

Straight from the training ground (Video)

There’s nothing like a well worked set piece routine. And this is nothing like a well worked set piece routine.

Here’s Chelmsford City against Hayes and Yeading United last week. Chelmsford have a free kick which their number 6 steps up to take.

He starts his run up and goes to strike the ball, only to slip over embarrassingly and have the ball bobble tamely against his shin and straight to a Hayes and Yeading player.

A few swift passes and what seems like around 80 step-overs later and the ball is nestled firmly in the back of the Chelmsford net. Cue much embarrassment and a much needed change of studs for the number 6.

What makes it even more entertaining is that the free kick taker couldn’t touch the ball after his error and had to wait for another player to touch it first, hence why he doesn’t just dive straight into the tackle to redeem himself.

Take a look, you can’t help but feel sorry for the lad. New studs please!

Robert Lock

Harry Houdini back in town

I knew he wouldn’t end up taking the Ukraine job.

After weeks of speculation the former Tottenham manager and housewives favourite has usurped Mark Hughes at QPR to become the West London clubs new manager, despite reported interest from the Ukrainian FA.

I’d love to see that, Redknapp struggles to say Huddlestone never mind Tymoschhuk.

I doubt, despite what was circulated in the press, that Harry was interested in the Ukraine job. Not even a little bit.

Imagine if he had taken it though. That would mean our ‘Arry, for a long while everyone’s first choice as successor to Fabio Capello could have been the man who stopped England qualifying for the World Cup when the teams meet in September.

You couldn’t make it up!

It may be cynical but I think Redknapp was just using all the speculation linking him to the Ukrainian job to force QPR’s hand into making him their new manager.

Harry is a wily old so and so and I’m wagering he used the publicity to let QPR know he is very much in demand and wouldn’t wait for them indefinitely; “Take me now or lose me forever” to slightly misquote Top Gun.

I think QPR and Harry will be a good fit for one another. A team who look disinterested and unmotivated coupled with a manager renowned for his man management and motivational skills.

It will definitely work. Maybe.

Forget about silly little things like tactics and formations, which Harry is notoriously suspect on, and just get the first 11 playing as a solid unit. The rest will come in time.

QPR even have at their disposal 35 year old New Zealand clogger Ryan Nelsen. A man Harry signed towards the end of his reign as Tottenham much to the bemusement of many Spurs fans.

And Redknapp might just be the right man for the job as he demonstrated when he inherited a down on their luck Tottenham side following the departure of Juande Ramos and transformed them into a top six side.

Whilst QPR at the moment don’t resemble anything close to a team capable of playing for each other or actually winning a football match the squad has enough quality and experience to survive relegation this season.

Redknapp won’t want to waste any time however with the crucial Christmas period fast approaching. Statistics show that the team at the bottom of the table on December the 25th are more often than not relegated.

He’s got his work cut out but if anyone can do it, then Harry Houdini  can.

Robert Lock

Like father like son (Video)

It’s not often that a truly great player’s offspring goes on to live up to the same sort of standards as their fathers.

Ian Wright, a great goal scorer in his era had a hand in conceiving Charlton Athletics’ Bradley Wright-Phillips and no disrespect to Bradley, but he’s not a patch on his old man.

Perhaps things will be different however with Enzo Zidane, no points for guessing who his Dad is. Check out this video of him scoring for the Real Madrid youth setup against Athletico Bilbao in a friendly match recently.

30 yards out he shrugs off a challenge from a defender before firing an absolute howitzer over the keeper and into the roof of the net. Pop would be proud!

Speaking of famous dads Sergio Aguero’s son has a lot to live up too. Diego Maradona is his grandfather and some bloke called Messi is his godfather. It’s like a who’s who of Argentinean footballing greats.

No pressure kid!

Robert Lock

Hooligans are still alive and well in football

Just ask 25 year old Tottenham fan Ashley Mills who was stabbed in a bar in Rome before his side met Lazio in a Europa League tie.

A gang of masked men brandishing knives and clubs stormed into the Drunken Ship Pub and assaulted a group of Spurs fans as they were drinking before the game last Thursday.

Hooligans, in Italy? Well I never. It’s not like some Italian clubs, both Rome teams especially, have a history of violence or anything.

Thankfully Mills is said to be in a “stable” condition and is recovering in hospital following the attack but surely now enough is enough and serious steps must be taken to eradicate hooliganism completely from the game.

Following the tragic Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 where 39 Juventus fans lost their lives after a wall collapsed in a match against Liverpool English teams were banned for five years from European competition.

It prompted reforms which led to serious penalties in this country for anyone found guilty of any hooligan activity. Over time the threat died down until now where, thankfully, there is hardly any hooligan element associated with British football.

The odd incident may make the news but these occurrences are in the minority. So why is it so different in Italy and on other countries in the continent?

I struggle to understand how in this day and age we still hear reports of hooliganism, racist chanting and attacks on innocent and vulnerable fans. It’s like going back to the dark ages.

The worst we get in this country is some idiot running onto the pitch and hitting the rival team’s goalkeeper after his team score (see Kirkland, Chris).

But now is surely the time for UEFA to step up and do something about the matter. Mills was stabbed and could have died, just how more serious an attack has to happen before the authorities take action and start kicking teams out of Europe?

They may issue warnings and sanctions and the odd fine for a club whose fans have been found guilty of hooliganism but until they start booting guilty teams out of the competitions I can’t see it having an effect.

Because only then will it start affecting the fans; the ones who are actually at fault and responsible for it all. I just hope something is done soon, and no one has to lose their life over something as trivial as a football match before we start to see some changes.

Enough is enough.

Robert Lock