Every Little Ref We Get Is Tragic…
Saturday 27th October 2013
—Lewes 3 Margate FC 0—
Sharing a car with three great friends of mine was honestly the high point of this Saturday. As Alan drove Terry, Stu & myself towards East Sussex, the banter was flying thick & fast, in between Stu falling asleep & waking up to offer everyone his XL box of Tic Tacs (move over Mel!)
The journey took a little over two hours, and as we entered Lewes, Terry remarked that the butterflies were beginning to flutter now (said butterflies being football related nerves!) I had to agree with her, as I had an overwhelming urge to chew my nails, but settled for Tic Tacs instead.
Entering the ground, imaginatively named The Dripping Pan, I have to confess that it was a very unique ground, with high, sloping terraces behind both goals, a seated stand to the right & what can only be described as a walkway above a long grassy hill.
At the risk of making myself sound childish, I’ll hold my hands up & admit that my thoughts turned to possibly doing a celebratory roly-poly down the hill if we managed to pick up 3 points at what would be a very tough game, Lewes being almost unrecognisable from the struggling side of last season – new management & players giving them a flying start – 5th in the table before kickoff & unbeaten at home.
However, as mentioned by Mick, current form counts for nothing, and Margate having previously ended Wealdstone’s unbeaten record, I felt that this would be a very close game.
As the teams & officials trotted down the concrete steps on their way to the pitch (cue much clattering of studs!) the travelling Gate fans took a look at the refs height, and expressed their concerns. This isn’t meant as a criticism of people lacking in height (I’m only 5’7 myself) but every time Margate have played under the gaze of a vertically challenged man in black, we seem to suffer from incompetent decisions & sendings off that can only be described as bizarre.
The game got off to a bad start when Lewes went ahead after 3 minutes, through a superb curling effort that gave Hollers no chance. Margate were doing their utmost to get back into the game, Bodkin in particular giving an impressive performance, covering every blade of grass, although sadly we didn’t really test the rather smug, self-satisfied Lewes keeper.
Cue the referee feeling the need to introduce himself. After missing several niggles by the Lewes players (shirt pulling, leaving their foot in at every opportunity) a 50-50 aerial challenge between Joe Vines & their number 6, who then proceeded to go down like the proverbial sack of spuds, led to the diminutive man in black merrily tooting on his whistle like it was about to be confiscated (would’ve been a good idea, to be fair!)
As Lewes players & fans were screaming about a non-existant elbow from Vinesy, the ref dramatically flourished the red card, leaving our talismanic defender to trudge dejectedly from the pitch. This effectively ended the game as a spectacle, as we still had a chance to get back into the game at 1-0 down with 11 men – being down to 10 after 25 minutes was asking the impossible, even from a side that have won twice this season with only 10 men on the pitch.
As the first half petered out into a game of half chances (mainly for Lewes) our strikers were looking increasingly beleaguered – an out of sorts Walshy looking off the pace despite winning flick ons here & there, and Charles Ademeno going down after a painful looking challenge which again had the Lewes fans in uproar – I’d never seen such a moaning bunch!
1-0 down at halftime, & the second half started in an even worse fashion, Lewes going 2-0 up within a minute of the restart. It’s hard to criticise our players here, as it was clear that we would always be chasing the game, and Vinesy’s calming influence was greatly missed at the back.
Substitutions came & went, Ademeno & the again impressive Jack Sammoutis (who battled well throughout) being replaced by ‘Cesc’ Fakinos & Paul Vines. To their credit, Cesc showed some excellent touches when he came on, and our midfield have impressed me a lot this season – Bodkin, Cesc & Sammoutis looking very much the holy trinity!
Paul Vines also battled well when he came on, a venomous shot from the veteran striker just failing to trouble the Lewes keeper, whose sardonic leering seemed slightly surreal coming from a man wearing a Day-Glo kit!
Lewes scored a third in the 78th minute, but in truth the scoreline flattered them – their main talents mainly involved moaning at the ref. Credit to their left winger though, who looked an excellent player and proved a thorn in Elliot Cox’s side all afternoon.
As the game drew to a close, the Margate faithful decided to respond to the Lewes fans heckling by bursting into a chorus of ‘Singing the Blues’, before focusing their wrath on the ref, who seemed incapable of showing a second yellow to their number 6, who was getting away with pretty much everything.
Thankfully the final whistle blew not too long after, a painful afternoon owing to the ineptitude of the referee – credit to our fans who stayed behind to clap our players who responded in kind – proud to be a Margate fan with our excellent support, which was recognised by our players, who looked disappointed & downtrodden as they made their way off the pitch – and who could blame them?
Criticizing the refs we’ve had / suffered with this season has seemed to be a frequent trend of this blog – the truth is, I’ll hold my hands up & admit when we’ve just not been good enough, but the result of Saturdays game was sadly determined by one person – who was wearing black (he even inspired the name of todays blog – a crafty remake of a certain song by The Police – see below!)
For what it’s worth, I genuinely feel that the level of refereeing in this League does need to be examined, and it would be interesting to hear what other fans of clubs in the Ryman Premier make of the refs that they’ve had this season too – would also be reassuring to hear that it’s not just me complaining!
On the bright side, Margate have got two games coming up to bounce back in – a home League Cup tie against fellow Kent side Folkestone Invicta on the Tuesday, followed by an important FA Trophy cup tie next Saturday, against Somerset side Clevedon Town of the Calor League Division One (one step below Margate in the non-league pyramid)
Finally, on a non-football related subject, I feel would be foolish of me in the extreme not to mention the highlights of our journey back to Thanet – an abusive elderly driver with an impressive array of hand signs, followed by a spontaneous burst of Disney songs & an 80’s medley from Stu, Terry & myself – credit to Alan for putting up with this with his customary beaming smile!
Terry was also kind enough to supply the new Away Day Burger Review in the sadly work-enforced absence of Grant, & also offered her opinion for the Keeper Arse-O-Meter too – the results of which are mentioned below
Terry’s Away Day Burger Review –
“A tasty, well cooked Stilton Cheeseburger from the Tesco Finest range – with a good bun. Service with a smile, & I might even have another one at half time!”
Burger Rating – 9.9 out of 10
Terry’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“I would’ve given him a 6, but he was a banterless oaf which dropped his rating to a 5.”
Arse-O-Meter – 5 out of 10
In a fitting end to this blog, pictures I took of The Dripping Pan are posted below, along with what was definitely the picture of the day – Dan “The Heartbreak Kid” Boyle continuing his fine tradition of pulling a girl at every ground (in this case it was Natalie Harris, the Lewes physio) – well played sir!