The news that Grant Basey has not after all suffered a broken leg is obviously welcome. But after the disgraceful challenge by Blizzard in the first minute I thought I’d check the Bristol Rovers website to see how they viewed the incident. Now I’ve nothing against the club, obviously there is a good association given Lennie Lawrence being there, and before the game at The Valley we had a very enjoyable chat with some Rovers fans in the Rose of Denmark (they went as far as inviting us down for some pre-match drinks for the return fixture, all of which was ruled out by the greater goal of earning much-needed brownie points by doing the right thing on the Valentine’s Day weekend). After all, some clubs/supporters don’t enjoy the same ability as us to assess such matters impartially. I have to say what is on their site brings shame on their club.
Their match report outlines a “thoroughly entertaining encounter” which was “marred by a number of injuries which saw four players forced from the field”. It acknowledged that “there was an early stoppage after Dominic Blizzard went in late on Grant Basey, who eventually left the field on a stretcher with a suspected broken leg”, adding that “Rovers responded well to that early delay”. After that whitewash I thought I’d check out what their manager had to say on the matter. Trollope dished up something worthy of his name. “We wanted a competitive edge to us and we wanted to show a spirit, but it was unfortunate for the lad who got carried off early, because I think everyone who knows Dominic knows he is not that sort of player. It was early in the game, Dominic was trying to get the ball, the lad nicked it and they’ve both gone to ground. The lad was just too quick for Dominic. If they knew Dominic’s character and what he was about they would realise he is not the sort of player who would go in late on anybody.” He went on to say “I don’t think it was a red card offence, I think the referee got it right with a yellow” and that “there were a lot of challenges from both teams that were highly competitive and I was proud that my team stood up to all of them”.
These days managers get hauled up on charges of bringing the game into disrepute for the slightest comments. For gutless, cynical, tasteless and deliberately misleading statements such as his he deserves a large fine and a ban. Where to start on what he said? “They’ve both gone to ground …”!!! Well, Basey went to ground because of the over the top challenge. “It was early in the game”!!! So bloody what. “If they knew Dominic’s character ….”!!! I don’t give a damn if he loves his mum and gives all his earnings to charity. Just where does it say in the rule book that a ref’s response to a potentially career-ending tackle should be influenced by the player’s character? I don’t mean to suggest that there was any intent to break a leg, only Blizzard knows that. But if he and his manager had any character at all they would apologise and acknowledge that the card should have been red. Their current response simply brings shame on their club and deserves a response from the authorities.