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February 25 2024 8.15am

Last laugh for Kolinko

November 21 2003

Alex Kolinko

Alex Kolinko

Wales out, Scotland out - and Latvia through to the Euro-finals in Portugal next year, helped by two Palace "rejects". Jamesey elaborates

Two great opportunities were missed on Wednesday night for three home nations to be represented in Portugal next year.

Wales squandered the best chance of all, cheered on by over 70,000 raving Taffs they couldn't finish off the business. They had done all the hard work in Moscow mid-week.

Scotland I have less sympathy for. They are always so blissfully happy when England lose that for once I feel the nasty side of my character surfacing and a bit of a snigger coming on. Six nil, six, six nil, six nil...

Nevertheless one of the competition's minnows, Latvia, has reason to be proud of itself, having knocked out last year's World Cup semi-finalists, Turkey. And who were there central to the victory celebrations but Palace old boys, Alex Kolinko and Andrejs Rubins?

But for a touch of the "Grobelaars" every now and then, I always rated Alex pretty highly as a goalkeeper. His demise seemed to start with the well publicised incident in August 2 when he was clipped around the ear by the Carrot impersonator for laughing at an opposition goal.

The other feller, Rubins, was more of a shadowy figure who was often on the fringe of the squad. He never really got a run but looked quite a sharp and dangerous winger on a couple of occasions.

Being called a "waste of space" by the then-assistant manager, one S Kember, at a fans' forum, probably didn't do his confidence a great deal of good. (Had SK been on the vodka that night, we wonder?)

Anyhow it all makes rather sad reading in the circumstances. As I write, we are managerless (you can't really count Kit, can you?), and one place above the relegation zone. Two players who weren't rated by the powers-that-were have helped a tiny nation reach Portugal next summer, a superb achievement.

And while Messrs Rubins and Kolinko are sunning themselves in that beautiful country and enjoying the buzz of participating in a tournament that will attract the eyes of all Europe, will we Palace fans be consulting out gazetteers on the best routes to Wrexham and Rushden and Diamonds? Who'll have the last laugh then?


Email Jamesey with any of your comments to Jevans3704@aol.com

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