Following Chelsea’s defeat to Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday the media focus has been on the accusations made by Chelsea and their players against referee Mark Clattenburg. Unfortunately, the referee did make a mistake when sending off Fernando Torres and his assistant was at fault over United’s winning goal. Chelsea, however, have been the recipients of many dubious refereeing decisions in the past eighteen months which their opponents have had to accept graciously.
The Chelsea manager, Roberto di Matteo was quick to blame the referee saying that his mistakes had ruined the game. Strange that he wasn’t so forthcoming when equally clear mistakes went in favour of his Stamford Bridge club. Then, more seriously, Chelsea issued an official complaint alleging that the official had made inappropriate remarks to two of their players – John Obi Mikel and Juan Mata.The Football Association and the police are now investigating the allegations of racial abuse.
5th November, 2006
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Chelsea 1
It was Bonfire Night and what a match was served up at White Hart Lane! There were fireworks both on an off the pitch that Sunday evening as Spurs defeated Chelsea for the first time in a League game at White Hart Lane since Nico Claesen’s winner in August, 1987. At last, three points from Chelsea – the jinx had been broken! Tottenham won with goals scored by Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon while Chelsea had John Terry sent off. Spurs deserved to win and it was no backs to the wall performance – they competed with Chelsea throughout the game and created chances themselves. Chelsea played well but Spurs did better. There was a belief in the Spurs’ players that they could win and they were rewarded for all their hard work.In a match report that I wrote at the time I included this paragraph:
‘Well done to Graham Poll who refereed very fairly – he wasn’t intimidated by Chelsea players pressurising him and he allowed the game to flow but booked players as was required.’
Two years ago in his column in the Daily Mail, the referee Graham Poll explained what happened following the game. John Terry’s dismissal sparked a furious reaction from Jose Mourinho and his players, who launched a campaign to discredit him. Terry approached him immediately after the game, the first time that any player had ever done that.
Terry accepted Pol’s explanation but the following day Ashley Cole accused the referee of having told Chelsea’s players he wanted to ‘teach Chelsea a lesson’ and Terry said the referee had said one thing to him on the pitch and another in the dressing room after the game.
Graham Poll felt let down by the Football Association which failed to support him and the integrity of every referee. A fortnight later Chelsea withdrew all the allegations and John Terry was fined £15,000.
In his article from 2010, Poll says,
“The sad thing is that the whole furore overshadowed what was a magnificent performance by Tottenham.”
Now, personally, I was never a supporter of Graham Poll but this incident and the lack of support from the footballing authorities led to Poll retiring as a referee.
It’s interesting that following Chelsea’s defeat on Sunday, events have taken a very similar turn to those after Spurs win at White Hart Lane in 2006 with the focus and finger pointing at the referee Mark Clattenburg over the allegations made by Chelsea and their players.