Be Ruud Not To 21 September 2003
A rather dull Premiership match at Old Trafford in 2003 sparked into life in the last ten minutes when Ruud van Nistelrooy, firstly, conned the referee into sending off Patrick Vieira and then managed to smack a highly debateable last minute penalty against the underside of the bar. Naturally, we celebrated like we’d just scored a last minute winner, jumping all over the seats and hugging strangers.
However, the key moment was still to come because, just as I stopped celebrating, I turned back towards the pitch just in time to see Martin Keown arch above Van Nistelrooy like some sort of move you’d see on Street Fighter and crash his elbow down on the back of his head. This was swiftly followed by Ray Parlour, Ashley Cole, Lauren and Jens Lehmann picking fights with Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo. The newspapers and TV stations went into virtual meltdown over the incident and Arsenal were hit with record fines for players and the club.
I happened to bump into Martin a couple of years later on the tube and was able to share a few words as we journeyed to our respective stops. The conversation turned to the day at Old Trafford and he did seem a little embarrassed about the whole episode and didn’t want to be remembered for just that one incident. Despite that, I told him that he had turned himself into a “true legend” that day to which he remarked that “it’s a shame the FA didn’t quite see it like that”, although he also added as he stood up to get off, “but it felt absolutely fantastic doing it!” Stuart Watson
Bonkers in Cardiff 25 February 2007
The “forgotten” brawl that ended the 2007 Carling Cup Final was widely condemned by the football community and it branded us as “bad losers”. This was not a “one-for-all and all-for-one” brawl. This was one of the unsavoury petulant incidents, in which our players had grown frustrated and lashed out because they were not getting their own way.
Unable to build on our lead and domination of possession, we became frustrated. Noticing our waning discipline, Mourinho introduced Mikel to stifle our play with constant fouling, breaking up our flow and rhythm. It worked. With Chelsea heading for victory, Kolo Toure callously fouled Mikel out of frustration. Cue madness. Cesc had Lampard in a head lock, and a lot of pushing, shoving, grappling and throat grabbing ensued. Mourinho ran onto the pitch and went straight into the epicentre of it all. Even Wenger strolled onto the pitch and yelled at a few players.
Slightly away from the melee, Eboue slapped a Chelsea defender who fell to the ground, as if pole-axed. Once Howard Webb had regained control, Toure and Mikel saw red, Cesc and Lampard fortuitous yellows, and then, mystifyingly, Adebayor received a straight red card. It was a case of mistaken identity. Adebayor lost control at the injustice and he angrily towered over the not so small Webb, refusing to leave the pitch. He was eventually dragged off by Gary Lewin.
There was no glory or justification for this brawl. It cemented the petulant spoilt brat stigma we have yet to shrug off. . Andreas Kokkinos onlinegooner.com 9