The Roland Harris Column

Sunday 27 July, 2003

A ridiculous kicking for our birthday

The Harris family comes from far and wide around Great Britain but we all got together on the occasion of my great Grandfather's birthday. We assembled with aunts and uncles, cousins and long lost brothers as Roland Snr opened his telegraph from the Queen and we cheered as he read it out.

Then The Irish Harris' and the Scots proceeded to kick seven shades out of Great Grandad.

Of course they didn't but that's how City celebrated 100 years as a club, by having a load of farmers and thugs batter our boys. "What are we doing arranging such a tournament so close to the start of the season?" some are moaning. Not me.

I think this weekend's Centenary Tournament gave City a great work out. If we play a team as cynical as Aberdeen in the entire Nationwide League season I will be surprised. The body checks, badly timed lunges and leaning on our young players just cause they skinned them alive reminded me that West Bromich Albion are back in our league and today's nil nil with Aberdeen is preparation for that at least. Mark Bower will be back for Christmas after one of the feistier challenges in the game.

Nothing like the tackle that took out Peter Atherton yesterday though. Rustic was not the word. Perhaps you could forgive Coleraine for being, you know, rubbish at tackling because well, they are not that good but you would have thought that in the spirit of the friendly they would have not broken any of our players in half. Friendlies like that though are no good at all. West Brom never take it easy so what perpetration would that be?

Have I mentioned I hate friendlies? I do, can't stand them. It's cause they fall into two categories. The slack and the ridicious.

Slack is the take it easy friendly where two sets of teams makes like the Harlem Globetrotters and pass around attacking moves in a way that bares little resemblance to a proper game. I hate friendlies like that and really don't see any reason to pay good money to watch them.

This weekend the friendlies were ridiculous. We have Coleraine celebrating a goal got when Simon Francis was mugged and the ball stolen by force. We have City playing with ten men cause Wayne Jacobs has been rough housed out. We have Aberdeen's midfielder bowling over Ben Muirhead when out boys was full in flight and we have The Dons centreback kicking anything in claret and amber. Later we got Tom Kearney piling into Red shirted Scots for fun because of the ridiculous thing which, as if you could not guess, was the Referees.

The Referees thought these games were slack, they were not. They were competitive games played in a proper spirit. Ben Muirhead slices through the Dons side and gets knocked down and out should come the yellow card. The Don's Phil McGuire is a dirty player, but I guess after one or two of the bad tackles he did today he would expect a booking. He got warned time and time again and it was obvious nothing would come of it, why should he stop?

The players know that they should be booked, they are used to being sent off for stepping out of line too much, why then do Referees think that in the spirit of a friendly game they have to leave the cards at home? What sort of perpetration is it for City or the Dons if obvious penalties are ignored? McGuire will not last two minutes at Ibrox or Parkhead playing like he did today, he knew it, we knew it, the other 21 men on the field new it so why then did the Referee not? What preparation is it for Ben Muirhead, let alone the injured Mark Bower, to allow tackles that would not be allowed in a league game?

It is the ridiculous.

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