A supremely frustrating game on Saturday saw Dulwich Hamlet deprived of all three points thanks to some unbelievably poor refereeing and a heartbreaking Grays equaliser in the 5th minute of injury time.
Welcome to the weird and wonderful O’BrienWorld
Now I’ll be the first to admit that hearing a football fan whining on and on about how they’ve been ‘cheated’ by a dodgy referee is the stuff of yawn-fests, but this fella really was World Class Shite – so bad in fact, that both sets of fans booed him off the pitch at full time.
After a first half of questionable decisions, the ref in question – a certain John O’Brien – made his successful bid for an Olympic Gold medal for Inept Refereeing in the 49th minute with a match-changing bad call.
With Nyren Clunis running towards goal, Gray’s goalie, Lamar Johnson, rushed out some 35 yards from his posts, and handled the ball to prevent what looked like an inevitable goal.
A stonewall sending off then? Nope, not in the dark and mysterious world of Mr O’Brien where rules take on a more abstract, metaphysical form, and so he bizarrely decided to just book the keeper to the outrage of Hamlet players and fans.
And that wasn’t his only crap decision – in a hard fought, but mainly clean contest, the Fucktard in Black did his best to ruin it for both sets of fans, unnecessarily sending off a player from each team for truly unwarranted minor incidents. Yep, the refereeing was awful.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s get back to the game, and all in all it was a pretty game too, with Grays proving to be a strong and well organised team who pushed Hamlet hard at times.
Another huge crowd turned up at Champion Hill, although the total was frustratingly just one short of four figures, with the gate registering 999 people.
Grays started strongly and kept the majority of possession in the early exchanges.
In the 19th minute, Ashley Carew put Hamlet 1-0 ahead with a thumping hoof from 20 yards that beat Johnson to his right.
Like a spinning mini-Moon from the Universe Of Pink & Blue Joy, the ball majestically swirls around in the netting, like an ecstasy tablet in a glass of champagne.
And the Hamlet fans get a-whooping.
A slightly disappointing Divot Of The Day.
And here is today’s Away Goalie Towel. To be honest, it’s a bit of a disappointing affair in a murky shade of bedsit off-white.
With 999 on the gate and my raffle ticket being 666, I was convinced I was going to win £333. But it was not to be.
Ominous looking clouds.
The first half proved to be a challenging one for Hamlet with neither team managing to make any real breakthroughs.
Half time. Can you spot the error behind the goals?
The ghost of Erhun Oztumer.
The famous Hamlet whippet.
A moody pose from the burger fella.
And here’s his softer side.
And then the rain came…
Aftermath of the penalty appeal. You can see just how far the ambling goalie was from his area.
A Hamlet hat.
Hamlet carved out a few chances in the second half, while Grays kept up the pressure.
Hamlet’s keeper Phil Wilson put in another superb performance.
With the clock ticking down, Hamlet fans kept up the singing.
In the last minute of the game, Grays managed to get an equaliser.
Truth is, they probably were good for the one point, but that’s only because they managed to keep their goalkeeper on the pitch, thanks to the lunatic ref.
Disappointed Hamlet fans head home, but the singing continued!
Here’s some of the verdicts from the forum.
Another seriously disappointing afternoon.
I don’t usually criticise the officials, as I think they have a hard job as it is, but I honestly haven’t seen such an inept and incompetent refereeing display as I saw today for a long time. They should be nowhere near this level of football.
The prize moment came when their keeper deliberately handled the ball ten yards outside the area when Clunis had knocked it round him and the Ref only booked him. I literally have no idea how he stayed on the pitch.
Other highlights include Kristian Campbell getting kicked three or four times as he zoomed down the line, with the Ref eventually awarding Grays a throw and they’re winger borderline carrying the ball past Pinnock on the left wing.
While the Ref spoiled the contest this was by no means a sterling Hamlet performance. Carew’s goal was a nice strike but the keeper really should have done better. Apart from that we never really carved Grays open and created scoring chances. It was slow, tedious and all very predictable. The frontline, frankly, were awful. Erskine was offside more times than I care to remember, Jarrett was slightly better than he was against Staines, but by and large he had no impact on the game whatsoever. Clunis operated in fits and bursts and Willock was lazy when he came on. I don’t like naming them but, when I know the kind of cash we’re paying them these days, they should take the criticism when they don’t perform. I totally sympathised with Matt Drage when he screamed in the first half at the front line and told them to give him “some f***ing movement”. They were static and weren’t working to create space or drag defenders out of position.
Drage, on the other hand, is absolutely outstanding. He’s fast becoming one of the best defenders I’ve ever seen at DHFC: he’s never caught out of position, he reads the game perfectly and his ball-playing ability is brilliant too. For some reason we took him off after he got twatted by their centre forward, despite him insisting he could play on. I wonder if we would have conceded if he’d still been on the pitch in 95th minute. In fairness though, I thought the entire backline played well today.
The other player who I think is worth a mention today is Jordan Hibbert. He was the only player in the front four who I thought came out with some credit.
When tucked in behind Erskine I thought he really tried to drive us forward, always looking to get a ball in behind the defence instead of passing the ball about in triangles like everyone else. He puts in a massive shift as well, both when we have the ball and when we don’t. He’s not the best footballer in the side, but he is very proactive, never hides and gets stuck in – a few of the supposedly better players should take a long, long look at Jordan and his exemplary work ethic.
Credit should be given to Grays too. They were by far the best side I’ve seen this season, and although he got sent off, that centre forward is absolutely fantastic. Thought he caused us all manner of problems last season and he did so again today. Their 3, 17, 10, 4 and 5 were all impressive as well. A draw therefore isn’t a disaster, but I feel like only half our team turned up today and we maybe could have held on or scored more if it weren’t for some poor individual performances.
Kingstonian won’t be an easy fixture in two days time. While we hopefully won’t have a moron officiating the game, some of the players have really got to start performing and taking responsibility. Maybe its time to drop one or two. Fingers crossed Drage, Scannell and Dixon can play on Monday. An OK result on paper, but we’ve got to start firing on all cylinders. And quickly.
Another poster added his thoughts:
On balance of play we weren’t worth more than a point, but we defended very well for the most part against a dangerous attacking side.
Given the referee’s truly hopeless performance a point apiece was probably the fairest outcome overall.
Remember the name: John O’Brien. This clown has plagued us for many years, certainly more than ten years, possibly nearly twenty. My heart always sinks when I see his name, but this was the worst yet even by his own dismal standards.
He was absolutely clueless and made the game a total lottery with his sheer inconsistency. There wasn’t a nasty foul in the match, but a lot of niggly ones. Most of the yellow cards shown were for innocuous incidents, including the two second yellows. Their centre forward gave a really good performance of powerful and legitimately aggressive play and was dismissed right near the end for catching a defender with a genuine but slightly late attempt to reach the ball inside our box.
After that the ref couldn’t wait to even up the numbers when Waldren slipped as an opponent went past him well inside their half, bringing him down as he fell. O’Brien’s piece de resistance of course was the failure to dismiss their keeper less than five minutes into the second half.
He sprinted way outside his box in response to a through ball ,Clunis comfortably reached it ahead of him, tried to chip it past and run around the other side as the keeper slid in to challenge, and he just stuck his arms out to block the ball. He as at least fifteen yards outside the box and our man would have had a clear run at an empty net with just one covering defender running alongside him.
Sometimes you see keepers dive in right on the edge of the box and they may not intentionally cross the line, but this was so obviously deliberate it would actually have been an easier decision to just send him off. There were no mitigating circumstances whatsoever.
As for our own team, we were worryingly outplayed for long spells, and our overplaying at the back caused both the injury to Drage and the equaliser. Drage fell awkwardly in being fouled after sidcestepping an opponent inside our box having been given the ball under pressure, and after lengthy treatment it seemed we’d already decided to replace him before he suddenly indicated he wanted to continue and the substitution was made anyway.
Not only did Pinnock move into the centre of defence with Campbell dropping to left back, but we also swapped Sankofa and Nelson in the full and centre back positions on the right. AsMS said, I can’t help thinking their equaliser may have been averted with Drage still out there.
Again we overplayed, passing the ball sideways and backwards until it reached Wilson with a forward bearing down on him; he hoofed the ball out for a throw, and that led directly to the goal when the ball was launched into our box.
Team (4-2-3-1): Wilson – Nelson, Sankofa, Drage, Pinnock – Carew, Waldren(c) – Hibbert, Clunis, Jarrett – Erskine. S
Get behind the Hamlet!
- Chat about the Hamlet vs Grays Athletic game on the Dulwich Hamlet forum
- Official match report
- Dulwich Hamlet FC forum
- Dulwich Hamlet FC songbook – the great chants from Champion Hill
- All the photos and match reports at dulwichhamlet.org