Back in November 1992 a pretty well known woman reflected on the year gone by and decided it had been pretty grim all round really. Ten years on and I can’t help but find myself doing much the same thing.
Of course I don’t have her fame (or money, more’s the pity) and the horrible events she was looking back at were probably more serious than a football supporters’ woes to be fair but nonetheless, she summed it up perfectly by declaring “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking it so.”
Sum up the past twelve months much? You bet your backside it does! Champions League aside, the last year has been a right royal pain in the rectum to put it mildly and we could have well done without a dose of déjà vu at the weekend.
I don’t need to remind anyone it started off with that QPR game a year ago, coincidentally another game where ridiculous decisions saw us end up with 9 men on the field and 3 points worse off. But if we thought the game was bad, it was nothing compared to the fallout that dragged on for the next year – and still has legs on it like the bionic man as far as the press and opposing supporters are concerned.
Needless to say, a repeat of that 12 months on is the last thing we needed. Of course, there are obvious differences, this time round, Chelsea aren’t the same side and even with ten men we looked the better side against our opposition. In fact, I don’t think there’s any question we could have gone on to win if it hadn’t been for the second sending off. If ever a decision was going to change the course of three points, that was it right there. I mean, United might have completely lost their way despite an initial 2-goal lead but most sides can scrape something against 9 men – and scrape it they did.
As if that wasn’t enough of a reminder of ‘that’ game a year ago though, what was to come was even more jaw-dropping because as we now know, with the aftermath of the game came certain allegations made against Mark Clattenburg – and we seem to have gone full circle – youtube video and all.
And here’s the thing – whilst a year ago, the minute an allegation was uttered against John Terry, he was branded a guilty man, suddenly the world of football wants to resurrect the principle of ‘innocent til proven guilty’. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a firm believer in it (God knows I quoted it enough in JT’s defence), I just find it ironic it suddenly seems to be being applied with such fervor when it’s an official under scrutiny.
If I’m honest though, what bothered me more than that particular double-standard though were the immediate insinuations that the whole thing must be no more than complete fabrication on Chelsea’s part – some elaborate plot to seek retribution. I mean seriously, the club has been under such intense scrutiny over the last 12 months the only thing not reported on has been their bowel movements. Does anyone genuinely believe anyone at Chelsea would welcome increasing that sort of attention to the point of a full-on colonoscopy? I very much doubt it.
Granted, it’s bizarre to think anyone dare open their mouths on a pitch anymore after the last year, nevermind do so in a way that could only make the pantomime gone before look like a nativity play in comparison – and maybe even more amazingly, that ‘someone’ be an official – but that’s not to say it hasn’t happened.
Of course, people were only too happy to believe it from John Terry, he didn’t exactly go into that QPR game with a spotless character preceding him but from what I’ve read, Clattenburg is no angel either. He’s previously been dismissed by the PGMO and subsequently reinstated with an 8 month suspension, there’s been allegations of gambling, domestic violence and drug taking along the way, a marital break-up, former girlfriend and business partners arrested for laying into his Porsche – all very professional footballer really. Then there’s the derogatory comment about a certain player that didn’t impress Mark Hughes much at the time and he’s even been spotted changing his mind mid-decision on the pitch after taking advice from Steven Gerrard – resulting in the yellow he’d gone for in his pocket turning into a red for Everton’s Tony Hibbert. He didn’t see fit to produce the same card for a two-footed Kuyt challenge later in the game either, so please let’s not paint him as holier than thou here.
Personally, I’ll make no judgment either way on what he did or didn’t say during the game on Sunday but an allegation has been made and naturally the FA and the police will apply the same processes to the accused they set a precedent for so recently….