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The Flemming Report - March


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By Bob Flemming

No more games in March, so here goes....

March. “Mad March”. “As Mad As A March Hare”. “Marching All Together” as they say in Leeds (to worry sheep). “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” apparently. “Beware the ides of March!” -Which is Shakespearean for “Watch yersel on March the 15th lad”. Fortunately we’ve no game on that date, so we should be OK. See you learn something by reading this rubbish every month. It’s not just about the cold hard facts and what happened with the Rovers.

Thursday 2 March - Ryan Nelsen was warned about his future behaviour following a charge from the FA of improper conduct, after the home defeat to Everton on December 03 2005. In case you’ve forgotten, and I’m presuming that the FA must make notes, Nelsen stated that referee Mark Halsey has a history of sending Rovers players off. A heinous crime. Fortunately Nelsen has since learnt his lesson and has promised to never tell the truth again. Actually, more to the point, to never tell the truth in ear shot of the FA.

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Sunday 5 March – Tottingham Hotspurs 3 – Blackburn Rovers 2. What a cracking game. I seem to be saying that sort of thing quite a lot in this review lark. Some of the best football I’ve seen for a long, long time from a Blackburn Rovers side. At one point in a ten minute period we had 84% possession. Which, as we’re all aware, counts for nowt if you don’t win.

Robbie Keane scored twice, he punched one in but took the other well after the linesman suffered temporary blindness when awarding Spurs a throw. Pongolle scored a cracking diving header from a Bellamy cross to get us back in it just before half time, making amends for missing an absolute sitter earlier in the game when his legs stopped working. Roles were reversed with our equaliser, Pongolle cutting back for Bellamy who scored with a splendid finish. And that’s how it ended.

Oh yeah, apart from Mido scored and Stalteri handled in the box in the last minute, but to no-ones surprise, he got away with it. We drop to 6th.

Clearly not the best day at the office for the officials and all credit to Mark Hughes in his post match interview, he kept his cool brilliantly. Here’s a manager who will not be falling out with the men in black / yellow / green / purple as a result of comments made in the heat of the moment. These guys hold grudges and nobody can tell me otherwise, they’re like little egotistic, bad-tempered, power mad chameleons.

We’ve had a bit of bad luck in a couple of games this season, maybe we’re due a little more good luck? Still despite the result I was already looking forward to our next game against Villa.

Wednesday 9 March. Roberto de Savage (copyright Stuart Hall) and alleged homosexual / confirmed ex-burnley footballer (the only dingle in the village?) Leighton James, have a bit of a do live on top Welsh radio station, Abergavenny FM.

James insists that his close “friend”, Wales Manager John Toshack, has never had an apology from Savage after he decided to drop him from his squad, which is mainly comprised of Championship, League One and League Two players, an ex-character from Sky One’s Dreamteam and Giggsy Wiggsy. Never had an apology?!? Is he kidding?

Apparently “Tosh” doesn’t have a mobile phone says James - "Why should he?" Neither, it would appear, does he have a television or a radio. Nor does he ever buy a newspaper. Savage needs to write an apology to Toshack, advises Leighton. A bit of a gamble that Robbie, he’s probably boarded up his postbox an all.

Unfortunately for the Welsh FA, it would appear that they’ve appointed Howard Hughes rather than the next Mark Hughes.

Saturday 11 March. Blackburn Rovers 2 – Aston Villa 0. Todd and Bellamy with the goals, both screamers, especially Todd’s, he’ll not hit one that cleanly again for a while. The result just goes to show what a funny old game it really is *shakes head and chuckles to himself*.

We played badly and won, the previous week we played brilliantly and lost. So there was a big debate about what would you rather have? Play well and lose or play badly and win. To me it’s blindingly obvious that Mark Hughes tells the players to go out and play like Brazil in the 1970 World Cup. Unfortunately that’s not always possible.

In fact it’s never been possible. Mainly because of the opposition’s childish tactics that prevent us from expressing ourselves. One day though you just never know.

Wednesday 15 March. Following his presumed exit from Newcastle United, ex-Rovers coach and the Overlord of All Evil™, Dean Saunders is spotted in Iran with a hung-over Alan Murray, assisting with the development of nuclear weapons.

Thursday 16 March. The Liverpool match is moved for the second time. Liverpool announced this on their own web site before Blackburn Rovers did, as though they made the decision. In my opinion we did the right thing. It was just the way it was it was orchestrated that was a bit off….

Rick Parry: “Hello John? Hi! It’s Rick.”

John Williams: *silence*

RP: “It’s Rick Parry!....”

JW: *silence*

RP: “Rick Parry from Liverpool?.....”

JW: *oh sh1t*

RP: “Rick Parry from Liverpool Football Club?...... “

JW: *Here we go, what does he want now?* - “… Oh it’s Rick! Hi Rick, how are you?”

RW: “You with me now! Yeah I’m great thanks. You? Yeah, whatever. Anyway right I’ll get straight down to my business. Listen John, would you mind if we pi**ed you about a bit more? We’re going to have to move your home match again. Yes I know we said that 5.15 on the Saturday was fine but that was a couple of weeks ago and we’re out of Europe now so our schedule isn’t so bad. Look, I know it’s short notice so it’s OK if you can’t move it, you’ll just look totally compassionless to the rest of the country. It’s not as though you need any good PR is it la?”

Anyway, moving on. Saturday 18 March: Blackburn Rovers 3 Steve McClaren’s Middlesbrough 2. The ground was that empty at 3.00 I thought they’d started laying on free ale at the Hordens an all. But no, it was just the turnstiles breaking down at 2.50. It made me wonder under what circumstances Rovers would actually consider delaying the kick off, surely 10 minutes wouldn’t have mattered?

Another home win. It’s almost getting predictable. A great battling performance. Bellamy opened the scoring at 9/2 with a neat bit of his typical weaseldry in their box and he curled a sublime finish low into the bottom corner past a static Mark Schwarzer. Viduka equalised after some Birmingham-City-esque defending on our part only for Pedersen to curl a sublime free kick from an acute angle into the bottom corner past a static Mark Schwarzer.

Savage was then sent off for committing two bookable offences. The first saw him tackle someone and win the ball and the second was when a Boro player drove the ball at his hand from five yards. The referee clearly had no option but to ignore any semblance of common sense and send him off. Therefore becoming the first referee to send Robbie off in domestic football. That’s something to bore his grandchildren with.

Rickenbacker equalised and it looked like there would only be one winner. Then the Welsh Weasel scored a fantastic third for us. Cutting in from the right he unleashed a swerving, bending, bullet of a dipper (it seemed to move a bit in the air before straightening out and then dipping again and bending, with a slight suspicion of swerve) with his right foot into the right hand corner of Mark Schwazer’s goal. Instead of diving he’d have been better off just being static.

A fantastic result for us and the first time we’d won with 10 men since 1932. We stay 6th.

Tuesday 21 March – Liverpool fans notice that Steve Bruce has a rather large head during their 7-0 win away win at Big Club in the FA Cup. However it’s worth pointing out that he is not an animal. He’s a human being.

Saturday 25 March. It’s all aboard Gav’s European Bus of Culture for a couple of light ales and we’re off to Sunderland. Slumberland 0 Blackburn Rovers 1. They’re really not very good. We’re better. We got the goal and then did just enough to hang on. A bit too confident? Possibly. I’d have felt happier with a 2-0 lead.

Still it was yet another three points thank to Steven Reid’s amazing goal. Like a taller, skinnier, Irish Cockney Diego Maradona, with no hair, he collected the ball in his own half and simply tore through the Sunderland midfield and defence as though they weren’t there (…actually, thinking about it….) before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the centre of the goal which forced their keeper to dive out of the way.

We move up to fifth, Arsenal didn’t play.

That’s the end of the month. A month where we’ve won another three games and played Spurs off the park - but lost. A month that, in terms of points won, confirms us as the best team in the Premier League in 2006 (although ManU can equal that this evening).

So the next time someone says to you that they aren’t going to Ewood Park and reels off some excuse for not going (you’ve heard them all before - it’s almost become fashionable to think up new ones) then just tell them it’s their loss.

What lies ahead? Well we can make fourth spot. It’s a tall order but as I mentioned at the end of February: “The players are showing a real belief and a desire to win that we haven’t seen for a few years. Maybe we can do it? Maybe this is our time?” Hopefully we’ll still be in with a shout of fourth at the end of April, although just getting into Europe would be a massive achievement.

This season is drawing to a close faster than any other I can remember for a long, long time. I don't want it to end! Whatever happens from hereon in Rovers have taken great strides forward. Long may it continue. Thank you Mark Hughes.

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