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Premiership Parade Vol 4 - A good Premiership fisting

September 20 2004

Bouba Diop enjoyed his day job

Bouba Diop enjoyed his day job

From that fateful day way back in the dark ages when Mr League first decided to group football teams together according to ability, tactical awareness and how much cash they had, the lower divisions have been renowned for highlighting the more physical aspects of the beautiful game. But not any more, not after this weekend’s Premiership action…by Matt Amer.

If we are truly honest, as football fans we like to see passion from our players. Who hasn’t enjoyed a cheeky smile with our neighbour when a mistimed two-footed challenge leaves an opposition striker with a stud embedded in his left testicle?

But in these days of players swapping teams more often than David Beckham swaps his hair cuts, it is rare to see any true passion on the pitch. Instead you get, to use one of the most overused phrases in Alan Hansen’s Big Guide To Football Clichés, handbags at ten paces.

Not so this weekend; no sir. This weekend saw punches thrown that Audley ‘soon-to-be-playing-the-genie-in-Aladdin’ Harrison would be proud of – apparently they actually hurt! For the second weekend running Chris Coleman’s Fulham were at the centre of Premiership controversy, tallying up five bookings and two sendings off in only ninety minutes of football.

Trouble flared after new boy midfielder Papa Bouba Diop objected to having his foot trodden on and reacted, like any seasoned pro would, by twisting the offending West Brom player’s ear and trying to take him home to have a stern word with his mother.

When the defender chose not to be taken home to Mummy, for fear of being sent to his room with no dinner, Diop pushed his ear, and subsequently the rest of his head and body, to the floor.

In a school playground, this would seem the correct course of action for any dinner lady – or lunchtime attendant - worth her money; on the football pitch it is sadly frowned upon – as is confiscating the ball - and Diop was sent from the pitch.

Incidentally, rumour has it that Mama Bouba Diop may well have been waiting for Papa in the dressing room as, deciding once more to ignore those pesky rules, Diop decided not to take an early bath, but to take a seat on the bench in case any more fighting erupted…

which it did. Showing much more brawling prowess than dinner-lady Diop, Andy Cole and Neil Clement went for it hammer, tongs and any other implement you might care to name, later in the game.

By this point Clement had already been sent off - cynics might claim he was trying to even the teams up a bit - but saw fit to start a fight with England’s greatest international forward with a strike rate of 1 goal in every 300 chances. Quite why the brawl started is unknown.

Possibly Clement pointed out that Cole’s career had more wrecked clubs than a seal culling museum. Maybe he suggested that, unlike Wayne Rooney, Cole really couldn’t score in a brothel. It could even have been that he claimed Cole was worse at striking than a workaholic miner.

Either way young Andrew was riled and foolishly retaliated with ‘You could be playing for Palace by now’… probably. At this point the realisation that Clement was still wearing a baggy Baggies shirt rather than glorious red and blue hit home… and so did Clement’s fist.

The only thing that would have made the following brawl more authentic would have been some broken chairs and a window for one of the fighters to be thrown through. Instead they were both given red cards and sent to bed early.

All around the Premiership the red mist seemed to be filling the heads of rather more players than usual.

Friedel was to slow to catch his wigAt Ewood Park, Brad Friedel took the phrase 'throwing his weight around' a little too seriously as he uppercut Ricardo Fuller with his shoulder. Fuller, who this week end couldn’t hit a barn door with a banjo, had just rounded the goalkeeper, when 16 stone(ish) of all-American power hit him like… Andy Cole’s fist.

In one of very few reffing errors this week, Mark Clattenberg thought Fuller had thrown himself to the floor, breaking a few ribs and winding himself for extra dramatic measure, and booked him for simulation.

At Highbury, where high flying Bolton - who need oxygen masks to breath at the Premier League altitude they are not accustomed to - held Arsenal to a remarkable draw, visiting centre back Jaidi took his aggression out on ball rather than man, thumping a header in with such power that if the net had not been there it could have caused concussions in the first four rows of the stands.

Sadly, at Goodison Park, George Boateng had not got into the spirit of proceedings and was rightly booked by Howard Webb for his lack of aggression.

I’d like to say that something interesting happened at Stamford Bridge, I really would, but, as the records will show, the match ended 0-0. To be fair to Alexei Smertin, he did come on for the last five minutes and managed to get himself booked.

The real drama, if that is the right word, came in the post match press conference when Jose Mourinho accused Tottenham of being too defensive. On this season’s display that is akin to Jose accusing his wife of spending too long making sure she looks beautiful.

With all this passion flying about the most touching moment of the weekend came from our own Selhurst Park when, after Anelka Utd beat us, Kevin Keegan was interviewed by the BBC. Keegan, whose defensive astuteness has seen Anelka Utd flourish of late, was in tears as his stay in Manchester was extended by at least a week (understandable!).

He is, apparently, behind Man City 1000%, will not resign, and in all his years as a manager, has never been sacked. First time for everything though, isn’t there Kev?!

Email Matt with any of your comments to

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