Thursday, January 31, 2008
Leicester City 1 Crystal Palace 0
It’s the night of March 31st and as blind little Tim gets tucked up in bed his mum says “If you pray really hard tonight, tomorrow you will be able to see!” So little Tim prays like never before. Morning comes and Tim is still blind. “Mummy mummy” he cries out. “I prayed so hard last night but I’m still blind.” His mum gently pats him on his head. “I know son.” She said............. “April Fool!”
Cooperman is on a training course. I’ve copped for his season ticket. The Architect and I go Dutch on another ticket. It’s cost £26. I booked it over the phone at lunchtime. They picked up the receiver after one ring. I’ve phoned NFFC many times and have yet to speak to a human being.
I’ve been to Leicester’s old ground, Filbert Street more times than White Van Man has mopped up a Full English. And yet, here we are, The Architect and I, lost in a concrete abyss. We’ve picked up some signs for Hinckley. I’d be happy to end up there, as tonight they entertain Vauxhall Motors in the Blue Square Nationwide North. It would give me the chance to cast my beady eye over the much sought after Scouse winger, Paul Taylor.
The Eagles are unbeaten in the last 15 league games. They have taken to Neil Warnock like a duck to water. Warnock has the trusted Mick Jones and Keith Curle on his coaching staff. He has shored things up. Clint Hill, Nottingham born Shaun Derry and Neil Danns have all recently put pen to paper.
Mad cap Foxes manager Ian Holloway has also been very active in the market. New signings Steve Howard and Barry Hayles lead the line this evening.
We are relieved to have found HMP Leicester. We’re close to the ground and park at a Leisure Centre.
We collect the tickets from a caravan outside the main ticket office. The stadium, like Derby’s, is a much of a muchness. A plastic palace. The pitch is in a state of disrepair. The Architect is confused and enquires if we have taken a wrong turning and ended up at the rugby ground at Welford Road.
Leicester City have finally begun to produce their own. Lineker, Heskey and Joachim is a poor return of top flight footballers from 30 years of youth football. But now one or two are knocking on the first team door. Home grown Stearman and Mattock are in the starting eleven.
Crystal Palace FC was formed in 1905 and are from South East London. Well known folk from the Streatham area include: Edward Woodward, Tracey Emin, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and the cricketer Mark Butcher. Selhurst Park is one of the trickiest grounds to find, even with sat nav.
Stevenage Borough’s Peter Taylor has managed both the Foxes and the Eagles. He made a pig’s ear of it at both. Out tonight’s squads Palace’s Jamie Scowcroft and Paul Dickov have worn both sets of shirts. I note that Teddy Sheringham’s son Charlie has a squad number of 37 for the visitors.
The game is complete and utter garbage. There’s very little talent on show. The Eagles Shaun Derry shines out like a Belisha beacon. He makes the game look so easy, on a wretched surface.
The Foxes Gareth McAuley and Patrick Kisnorbo are a pair of powerhouses. They are built like a brick wall. They babysit the youthful full-backs. The same can be said of Palace duo Matt Lawrence and Mark Hudson. Both these teams are built on a sound defence. It’s a stalemate. Both teams cancel each other out.
There’s nothing doing at the break. They wheel out Birchenall for a bit of public relations. They’ve won the Masters or something. The Architect and I are too busy pissing ourselves at the state of the pitch.
People around me are munching on their beloved Walkers crisps. I buck the trend and have a bag of Golden Wonder. They feel betrayed.
Ineffective Hungarian winger Zsolt Laczko misses a gilt edged chance just after the break. He looks like he could do with a double helping of Goulash.
On the other flank the Canadian Iain Hume complains and moans at every opportunity. He fails to beat his man for most of the night and his delivery is poor. But then again I wouldn’t fancy a night out with Palace’s Clint Hill.
On 61 minutes a text comes through from home. Vera Duckworth is six foot under. Mrs P has a feet up on the sofa and is looking forward to watching the ITV drama The Palace. Certainly no-one at The Walkers Stadium is enjoying watching this Palace.
The highlight of the night is on 75 minutes. The chavs at the back are causing a few problems and the boys in blue turn up on the scene en masse. While a dozen or so deal with the situation, two of the plod stand near to the exit, tossing it off. The bloke in front can’t see and stands up. The woman behind can’t see. There’s a huge slanging match. The police become involved. We’re finally getting our £26 worth. We miss five minutes of this dreary encounter. A chavster is shown the red card.
Palace’s Clinton Morrison hits the back of the net but the linesman has flagged. White Van Man is texting me. He’s ripping me to shreds. “0-0” son .. 0-0.” The clock is ticking. Palace defend deep. Oakley plays the ball in and the industrious Hayles steers the ball home. It’s chavtastic.
Dudley Campbell races away from the visitors defence but fails to press home their advantage. The game is over. It never deserved a goal. Both sets of supporters have been vocal. We walk out to Hey Jude by The Beatles. Help, I need somebody!
Leicester 1 Hayles C Palace 0
Man of the Match: Shaun Derry