Come back Jimmy Dunne

Thursday 17 January 2002

"Oh Barry Hayles! Barry, Barry, Barry Hayles." I chant not with joy but despair. He had to go and spoil it all. I was heading for a real super sneer, a mega moan or a wonder whinge, if you like, but no. He had to go and ruin my big night. Fulham may march on in the cup but my own personal grouse season is in danger of falling apart. Football is a cruel game.

It all looked so promising following the bore draw at Wycombe. Admittedly I missed that game as I was stuck in traffic. It was two days before I made it home. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of griping incessantly for the duration of the replay. But if I was going to reach anything near top bleating form I needed practice and the Boro fixture seemed the perfect opportunity.

The omens were not good. I woke with a niggling throat injury and my daily whinge at the postman was pitiful. However, fuelled by dangerous levels of cough linctus I made it to the match and was rewarded with that excellent early howler from our defence that gifted them a goal. I immediately launched into an ambitious and snide tirade but the overworked larynx just couldn't cope. It was a schoolboy error and the voice went completely.

I was reduced to making a strange hissing noise and shaking my head violently in order to convey my contempt. Alarmed spectators quickly summoned some stewards and I was led out of the ground. My desperate attempts to signal that I was perfectly sane only made them frogmarch me all the quicker from the scene. I could swear some of those watching me were laughing. Including my ten year-old.

Perhaps it was the stress, perhaps it was the vast amount of cough syrup but I suddenly passed out and my whining/hissing was clearly over for the day.

My mood was not improved the next morning over the breakfast table when my ten year-old gave a glowing account of how we stormed back into the game and secured an important win. "Saha did this...Marlet did that...Finnan was superb...blah,blah,blah." He just went on and on. It's bad enough hearing positive feedback at the ground but I simply will not tolerate it under my roof and I had to eject the lad from the kitchenette/dining area. But he's still young and he'll learn.

Back to Tuesday night and with my voice nearly fully recovered I was obviously hoping for the worst. From a moaner's point of view the first half had everything. Everything except a Wycombe goal of course. Meanwhile we were lack lustre in front of goal and unsteady all over the pitch. Proven pedigree international players coached by the finest football minds are all very well but we still clearly lack the predatory instinct of an Andy Sayer or a Phil Stant. We also still need a midfield general in the John Dowie mould. It is a modern day mystery but we just don't seem to want to buy these kinds of players anymore.

After their cup exploits last season I was fully expecting Wycombe to come at us in the second half but they let me down badly finding little time to play football in between their fouling. I still clung to the hope of extra time and losing on penalties and getting my bitter ranting back on track but it wasn't to be. How am I supposed to cope if we insist on a patient passing game and then suddenly score at such a crucial time? It's enough to make a whinger weep. "Oh Barry Hayles, Barry, Barry, Barry Hayles..."