The Missing Links
Date: Monday 18th October 2010Recent scientific research indicates that homo sapiens as a species, outside of Africa, have within their DNA approximately 4% that is Neanderthal in origin. Unless you’re from Stoke, where, clearly, Neanderthal DNA is being mixed with old china clay and fed to the male of the species for breakfast. And it works.
Day by day they make backward progress, inch by inch, crawling through time in a bid to reach the true glory days of their kind – the 1970s and 1980s when watching football was a seriously dangerous pursuit, when women and children, and many men, were excluded from the game by sheer fear. The time when to admit you supported your club home and away was practically an admission of idiocy or malevolence or both.
Saturday was marred by violence of a scale that is, thankfully, extremely rare at the Reebok. A Bolton goal in injury led to an invasion from the Middle Palaeolithic period practically permitted by an understaffed orange platoon and met by the sober and restrained residents of scoreboard corner. It was continued outside. It was deeply depressing.
This is a pity, for the best of the Stoke supporters had brought some real, old-fashioned football passion to the Reebok, they backed their team until they were hoarse and played a full part in an afternoon that saw some good football action, a see-saw of a game, skilful and functional football from both teams, concluding with a joyous home victory just about deserved. And all this despite a shambles of a performance from a referee who managed to unite both sets of supporters by his even-handed ineptness.
This was a different experience from those of the two slow and aching years of the Megson interregnum. Coyle’s teams are not scared of attacking. Not away at Villa, not at home to the Mancs, and certainly not against Stoke City. The visitors only briefly, late in the game when it was 1-1, seemed prepared to settle for a point. From a first half when Pennant gave us a hard time to the end when a shadow of Eidur showed his enduring liking for the club that rescued him from the seconds shelf at the back of the store, stoke gave us a real game. Excellent!
For Bolton Holden was busy throughout the game and sometimes effective as well. Muamba broke up attack after attack with that extraordinary energy store. Elmander looked ever danger, ever involved, ever a total contrast to the frightened hideaway of the last two years. SKD better hope Capello doesn’t get the highlights. Cahill, on the other hand, will hope that he does - he was outstanding in a defence that finds it all but impossible to keep a clean sheet.
But Ivan Klasnic surely deserves to have the last say. He redefined the definition of a cameo role. A great goal worthy of any poacher in the league, a girly push on a bad lad, a nearly-foul to upset the nearly-sighted apology of a referee and our hero went off to the early bath, where he could have a good soak and plan what he’s going to get up to next Saturday, when, unlike me, he will not be in Wigan.