Manx Football Blog 5: I need a hero

BLOG HERO: Despite breaking his arm in the 10th minute of Saturday's Canada Life Premier League match between St John's and Rushen, referee Tony McMeiken finished the match

BLOG HERO: Despite breaking his arm in the 10th minute of Saturday's Canada Life Premier League match between St John's and Rushen, referee Tony McMeiken finished the match

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The blog returns with a bumper edition featuring Tony The Tache, Josh the Beard, Kane the TV star and Gibraltar the provisional Uefa members

THE Blog’s virtual cup is filled to the brim this week with news of heroic refereeing displays, biblical beards, ITV2 dating shows and Gibraltar’s provisional admittance to Uefa.

Bearded Wonder: Rushen's Josh Kelly

Bearded Wonder: Rushen's Josh Kelly

It’s with the story of referee Tony ‘The Tache’ McMeiken that I begin this week’s ramblings. One of the island’s most affable men in black impressively carried on officiating last Saturday’s Canada Life Premier League fixture between St John’s and Rushen despite breaking his arm 10 minutes in after an accidental collision with the Saints’ midfielder John Wrigley!

Tony, who celebrates his 20th year purveying the dark arts later this month, didn’t realise the extent of his injury until later in the day when the pain forced him to A&E for a check up:

‘I had just began to run backwards when John and I clumsily collided. There was the usual merriment when the ref is sent on his ar*e, before John pulled me up and we laughed and quickly got on with things.

‘The consequence was that John soon had to be substituted and will be out for a period with twisted knee ligaments. After tea on Saturday evening I went to the hospital and received my shocking news.’

‘I have to say it was/still is damned painful and sore. But hell, I’m a Peel Boy by trade and we crack on regardless!’

Tony admits that he’d been keen to carry on with the island’s referees’ accessor Kevan Maitland pitch-side at Mullen-e-Cloie undertaking one his regular performance checks.

‘I had really wanted to do well that afternoon - well that’s the same every weekend - particularly because I was being assessed by Kevan – a bloke whom I hold in the highest regard.’

Despite the injury Tony still managed to glean a high score from Kevan in his post-match analysis.

The injury in Tony’s 1,106th game in charge wasn’t his first serious one as the man with the most recognisable moustache in Manx football explained:

‘I had my cervical spine damaged in a collision with a ‘Northern Select’ player (Lee Christian, but I refuse to name names) when they took the IoM in a pre-Island Games rehearsal at the NSC in June 1995. I was off work for the better part of six months before that major mess resolved itself!’

Tony now faces six weeks on the sidelines, but keen still to be involved in the ever-whirling world of Manx football he’ll be mentoring some of his up-and-coming refereeing colleagues over the next few weeks starting at Douglas Royal’s Combination Two clash with Douglas Athletic this weekend.

I think Bonnie Tyler may have finally found her hero.

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Beard of the Season

Sam Theobald’s Tom Hanks in Castaway effort in last week blog prompted Rushen’s Jack Saxon to send in the attached picture of club-mate Josh Kelly. Epic effort Josh – the Port Erin sea air certainly seems to have added some body to your face furniture.

They’re have also been calls to enter the current Mr Twits (of the Twits fame)/Eric Cantona after several days sleeping rough on the boulevards of Marseille beard I’m currently sporting. I’ll take a picture and include it next week’s blog for you’re perusal.

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Cilla White

News reached the blog this week via various social media posts (thank you Oli Bennett and Calum Morrissey) that one of the Manx football fraternity would be appearing in ITV2’s new dating show Girlfri3nds on Wednesday evening. After tuning in diligently at 9pm, and incurring the wrath of my girlfriend who was keen to watch Manchester United’s Champions League clash with Romanian’s CFR Cluj, I was a little disappointed to not recognise any of the contestants trying to win a date with the three lovely ladies holed up in a mansion just outside Watford.

Immediately I took to the internet scouring the programme’s accompanying website where I was met by a large picture of Corinthians’ attacker Kane Ridings. Had I missed his three minutes of fame when I nipped to the kitchen for a Bakewell Slice? Seemingly not the Whites’ ace didn’t feature in the end. Although there is probably a far more sensible reason as to why he wasn’t televised, I like to think it was because the tales of his matchday heroics at Ballafletcher were deemed unbroadcastable by the show’s producers.

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Trendsetters?

Blog aficionado Ed Oldham (The beardy bloke that reads the news on Manx Radio) tweeted us this week with news of Gibraltar’s provisional acceptance into Uefa. If The Rock gets full membership granted at a meeting next May they will be entered into all of European football’s governing body’s competition including the qualifying stages for the European Championships. In 2007 the British Overseas Territory’s bid was blocked by the adjacent footballing authorities of Spain. The Spaniards view on the subject dosen’t seem to have softened so once again The Rock, who beat the Manx in the FA International Shield in June could be back to square one.

However, there seems to be renewed optimism that this time Spain’s hand could be forced by Uefa’s other members.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Gibraltar’s development officer and national head coach Allen Bula- admitted their delight at the decision taken by UEFA and admitted they were hopeful of being able to enter the qualifiers for Euro 2016.

He said: “It’s a great decision, and hopefully we will be full members in May 2013.

“The Gibraltar National A team is ready for Euro 2016 qualifiers.

‘We have been working hard to show Europe we have the quality to play at this level, and recent results since 2011 have shown this.

‘For sure we will not disappoint in Europe, we will gain points in our group, and we will shock Europe with some good results in our favour, that I guarantee you.

‘My vision which is shared by my technical team and players, is to become the first of the smallest nations, to qualify for Euro final stages. Mark my words when I set out to do something I accomplish it.’

The Jersey FA have been encouraged by Gibraltar’s progress as chief executive David Brookland of the channel island’s FA told BBC South West:

‘It’s a step in the right direction and that can only be a good thing.

‘Jersey have got, in some ways, better criteria - but you’ve always got to go back to this issue of being recognised by the United Nations as an independent state, which we’re not’ Brookland added.

If Gibraltar and Jersey became members of Uefa, Brookland believes a tournament among some of the smaller sides would be more beneficial rather than playing World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and, in all probability, losing most or their matches.

‘The direction we’ve always tried to go through when dealing with Uefa was to try and get some kind of small nations cup in place with some of the small nations such as Andorra, the Faroe Islands, San Marino and let’s say Gibraltar, Guernsey and the Isle of Man,’ he said.

‘It would allow those sort of teams, which we believe are of a fairly similar standard and have got a lot of similar criteria, to play in some kind of a European Champions League-type thing where you could play on a home and away basis.

‘That’s not saying we would have to be admitted in some way, but Uefa recognising that we’ve all got similar characteristics and that would be a good kind of tournament to play.’

The Isle of Man FA have regularly dismissed the idea of going for Uefa membership as it would end its strong relationship with the English FA and the financial support that goes with it.

They may have to reconsider this if Gibraltar’s bid gathers further momentum.

Right that’s it for this week’s bumper edition.

They’ll be Tweets from Union Mills v St John’s and Douglas and District v Ayre (Yes you read that correctly) at @manxfootyblog this weekend.

Set your smart phones to follow.

TTFN

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