Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Ilkeston 2 v Mansfield Town 4 - Friendly - Abandoned 73 minutes

Wednesday 3rd August 2011, at the New Manor Ground
Ilkeston (2) 2
(Karl Dinedth 8, Gary Ricketts 43)
Mansfield Town (4) 4
(Matt Green or Josh Hill OG 5, Matt Green 16, Briscoe 25, 44 pen)
Admission £5/£3 concs, Programme £1, Attendance 521
In the after match confusion it seems that most people have credited Matt Green with the Stags opening goal, but it was definitely 'finished' by an Ilkeston player after Green's initial effort.
But if Green was awarded it and is claiming it then so be it, there are bigger arguments to be resolved after tonight's debacle.
All goal times were confirmed by the great big timekeeper (pictured below) that I was sitting next to during the first half
7.45PM and all is well
With Mansfield Town leading 4-2 on 73 minutes, the Stags manager Paul Cox withdrew his players from the field of play/battle field on safety grounds ... before any more of his players were injured in this pre season 'friendly'.
Three Stags players had been hospitalised tonight already, namely Richie Sutton, Martin Riley and John Thompson, they were all injured by the same person, Ilkeston's player coach Gary Ricketts.
And from what I saw none of the challenges were accidental.
A couple of Twitter updates by Martin Riley (there are several more of these incidentally):
1.Sitting in A&E now, the same player has put three of our boys in hospital in the same game!
Gaffers just walked the team off the pitch!
2. I'm fine, 5/6 stitches and ill be fine for the 1st game but Sutts and Thomo are gonna be out for sure.
A quote from Matt Halfpenny's report on the This Is Nottingham website:
Ilkeston boss Kevin Wilson said he would take firm action if he found Ricketts was clearly culpable.
He said: "This will be dealt with in the right way, but whether that becomes public I don't know.

I need to digest it over the next 24 hours, see the incidents again on tape and then judge them.
But you don't like to see things like that at a game
" I just hope all the Mansfield lads are OK, especially the lad Thompson."
Subsequently, Ilkeston have suspended Ricketts pending an internal investigation.Jim Thornhill, match referee.
Well, what can I say about him, that isn't already glaringly obvious to everybody present at the New Manor Ground tonight, given his inept handling of this 'friendly' fixture?
His complete inability to keep control of a game of football - and one fired up individual in particular - were a disgrace to his profession.
Was he frightened of Gary Ricketts and reluctant to take any action against him?
You have to wonder.
What on earth was Kevin Wilson, the Ilkeston manager, thinking of ... leaving it until Ricketts third assault, right in front of the managers dug outs, before he even considered removing the clearly out of control player coach? And then only after the referee had finally spoken to him about Ricketts' conduct (eventually).
Actually, though it was 'only' his third assault, there had already been a good few other offences to take into consideration, of a slightly less malicious nature ... but only slightly less.
All the talk of suspension and internal investigations in the aftermath of this farce are all well and good ... but Ricketts could've have been taken off by Wilson at any point.
It was blatant with a capital F, that he needed removing from this 'friendly' match, for his own sake if nothing else, so why wasn't he?
In these sorts of games, the referee only shows yellow and red cards as a very last resort.
Might I suggest (very strongly) that that last resort, point of no return, had elapsed a very long time before Paul Cox felt the need to take his players off, because enough was enough.
It seems to me that the referee had already said he wouldn't be issuing any red or yellow cards tonight because it was only a friendly and that Ricketts saw that as a licence to 'get stuck in' with impunity.
From the outset he was clattering into opposition players to see how much he could get away with ... and upping the ante with every single rule transgression he got away with accordingly.
But why?
He's a big strong player, but he's also got plenty of experience and ability, as he showed against Notts County when I saw him playing for Ilkeston at the start of last month.
Whatever his motivation was, he is clearly a liability to Ilkeston when he's in this sort of mood.
One really sad aspect of his behaviour, aside from the shocking mess he made of those he injured, is that his family were on the sidelines watching on.
He had given his little girl a peck on the cheek when he was walking on to the pitch just before kick off, at the players gate just below the 'posh seats' that I prefer to watch games at the NMG from.
Darryl Thomas goes close for Ilson
I've seen some of the knee jerk reactionary ranting about events at 'Ilson' tonight on t'internet, a good deal of it from people who weren't even there ... and the idiotic hyperbole from a minority of outspoken supporters in both camps ranging from 'Ricketts did nothing wrong he's just a competitive and committed player, Cox was a disgrace taking the players off' to 'I hope somebody breaks Ricketts legs and Ilkeston go bust' - you work out for yourselves which side of the divide both of these OTT and less than helpful comments originated from - but from an eye witness perspective what I'll say is:
Besides the unfathomable antics of one out of control individual, this actually had the makings of a half decent game of football, with loads of talking points and a lot of goalmouth action at both ends.
However, when Ricketts self control had clearly deserted him - and as a senior player and coach at the club he should have a better grip on himself and some perspective on his responsibilities - then it was up to the referee, the Ilkeston manager, or a combination of both of them, to either get him to calm down, or get him off the pitch.
He quite obviously had issues and needed help staying on top of whatever demons were eating away at his rationale.
Rolling substitutions were allowed, he could've taken time out to cool down, but inexplicably, he was just left to carry on regardless.
To paraphrase - The dirty bastard should have been either 1) withdrawn or 2) sent off ... end of.
As for Paul Cox's actions, well ... it may well be against the rules to tell your team to leave the pitch after a lengthy break caused by yet another serious foul on one of your newly assembled team, a week before the season starts, but every single Stags fan in the ground rose to applaud the decision.
The referee wasn't giving Mansfield any protection whatsoever and Ilkeston weren't taking any action whatsoever to control their senior player, who had taken on the guise of a thug running amok, while Ricketts himself showed no signs of ending his reign of terror.
In fact, he was actually getting angrier as the game went on and didn't like it one bit that a Stags trialist, Nick Wood, who had come on as sub, could acyually stand up to his robust challenges and was playing him off the park.
Whether Cox broke the rules or not, he had no option but to take his team off, for their own safety.
If nobody else was going to put a stop to Ricketts OTT behaviour, then Cox was right to take his players out of the line of fire.
For what my opinion is worth (very little I'd guess), I condone Paul Cox's actions 100%.
I guess I could post a report about the actual football that was played, because there were a few decent performances out there tonight and some cracking goals, including (ironically) one from Ricketts himself - but alas, football took a background role tonight to other events.
James Burgin tees up the cross that Ricketts scored from
Okay then, if you insist:
5 mins, Matt Green's close range effort went in off of the unfortunate Ilkeston defender Josh Hill, after a left wing cross from Kick Hegarty, a trialist who's played for Grimsby Town and St. Mirren.
8 mins, A Stags attack from a corner broke down and Darryl Thomas sprinted away with the ball, Karl Dindeth kept up with him and took Thomas' unselfish sideways pass in his stride to put home the equaliser.
16 mins. Mansfield ahead again, Matt Green fires home after Lee Stevenson's defence splitting through ball.
25 mins. Stags left back Joe Kendrick crossed for Paul Connor, the big striker couldn't connect with the ball, but Louis Briscoe was on hand to fire home. 1-3
43 mins. Ilson left back James Burgin whipped in a cross that Ricketts met with a powerful header, 2-3
44 mins, Matt Green hit the Ilkeston crossbar, a defender handled the ball from the rebound. Louis Briscoe scored from the resultant penalty.
The sun sets on a very strange night in Ilkeston
Prior to tonight, I'll confess that I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Ilkeston Town, the forerunner to the current Ilkeston club and was genuinely made up for them that football had been revived in the town.
I have friends at the club and know quite a few of their fans well.
Now I'm not going to let the recklessness of one individual cloud my judgement of the club, the place and the people, but I sure as hell won't be going back there for a while if Gary Ricketts remains there.
I initially thought that he would be a great signing for the Robin, but I now honestly believe that he has some serious issues that he needs some professional help with.
That's a shame for Ilkeston FC..
Unfortunately, in the short term, it's caused Mansfield Town far more problems than their hosts though, given the injury/assault count tonight.
The Stags were on their way to victory when the game was abandoned, but football itself was the real loser tonight.