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Sir Bobby Summed Up Arsenal On That Fateful Night Against Newcastle

8 years ago
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I saw the [intlink id=”33384″ type=”post”]excellent recent article[/intlink] about that shocking refereeing performance at Highbury, the night that Arsenal knocked Newcastle out in the League Cup quarter-final and David Ginola got sent off.

I remember the Ginola card, I think it happened as soon as the ball was played forward from the free kick awarded when Winterburn was booked. My memory might not be too accurate, but I remember him taking both of Ginola’s legs out at almost knee height.

I think Gerald Ashby had been the ref when we won 4-0 at Stoke earlier in that year’s League Cup, and some sections of the media trotted out the usual “goes down if you breathe near him” cliches about Ginola (Nothing to do with him being foreign, obviously…).

Perhaps Ashby went into the game determined not to be taken in by diving to the extent that he thought anything that happened to Ginola must have been a dive. Even Alan Green on Radio5Live, who I’ve always regarded as a Toon-hater, called the refereeing “a disgrace” in his match report.

One footnote that nobody has mentioned yet is that Gerald Ashby died while still quite young only a few years later.

Our next game was at Arsenal, and the players wore black armbands as a mark of respect. That was in December 2001, when we won 3-1 and they bleated that referee Graham Poll had robbed them by sending Ray Parlour off (Shearer tried to stop him, clearly saying “he didn’t touch me”, but Poll said he gave a second yellow for intent) and by wrongly awarding the penalty for our second goal.

Of course, they didn’t see the irony, or mention Ashley Cole getting Craig Bellamy sent off by feigning injury (the red card was later rescinded), or the fact that the real reason they lost was the inability of their strikers to hit a cow’s bum with a banjo.

Oh, and that lovely Thierry Henry, who lost Andy O’Brien when he scored our first goal from a corner, was reported to the FA for arguing with Poll all the way off the pitch.

That most dignified of football managers Bobby Robson said afterwards that “Some people here do not seem to be able to cope with losing”, which sums up Arsenal to this day.

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