Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My Dislikable XI - Number 13 (Dave Stevens)

The unlucky 13th in the Dislikable XI series is supplied by a Royal in exile in the States - I am not referring to Sarah Ferguson. Dave Stevens is Reading born and bred, but being based in Las Vegas doesn't limit his ire towards this team of irritants. They are displayed in the red shirts of Swindon Town, although in choosing the colours Dave surprised himself, realising he hadn't actually picked any Town players.

You can follow Dave on twitter at!/shakefon

Goalkeeper Carlo Nash

I might as well start as I mean to go on, so I'll admit from the outset that a lot of my choices are based on actions against Reading players. Carlo gets the nod ahead of several other undesirable shot stoppers thanks to an incident in February of 2006, when Reading - high flying and a mere month away from sealing promotion to the Premier League for the first time ever - met Preston at home.  

With barely 5 minutes remaining in the first half and the scores tied at 1-1, Reading striker Dave Kitson chased down a long ball, only to be met (and clattered to the ground) by the on-rushing Carlo Nash, who - as memory serves - entered the 50/50 in a manner Jackie Chan would be proud of. Kitson went down and had to be replaced while Nash escaped without even being booked. Nasty. I like to call him Carlo "Rash", or at least I did when he would actually be able to get a game (zing).

Right Back Danny Mills

I've never been a fan of that rat-like bully with short-guy syndrome Gary Neville, so you'd think that the man who replaced him at a major tournament after injury would be on my good list. Well, you'd be right- unless, of course, that replacement was a weasel-like bully with short-guy syndrome, incapable of going an entire match without making at least one of the following: awful pass, reckless challenge, disciplinary faux pas or positioning error. Danny Mills: get out of my sight.

Left Back Julian Dicks

While I'm a fan of the physicality of English football, of players getting stuck in and not being afraid of being solid in the tackle, I don't rate players who build a career around unflinching hard challenges or those who revel in "hard man" nicknames.

Julian "The Terminator" Dicks basically fails my own personal "fit and proper persons" test on those factors alone but I'll admit that his influence on the (mercifully brief in popularity) "game" of Fouling Football that some of the more agricultural players at our primary school would whip out during a perfectly good kickaround certainly sealed his fate in being chosen at Left Back here.

Centre Back Chris Riggott

Nasty piece of work, Chris Riggott. A centre back with questionable ability, he travelled to Reading's Madejski stadium with Middlesbrough on the first day of the 2006/07 season. A sunny day, this was Reading's first ever game in the top flight. A game that hadn't started too well for the Royals, as they found themselves 2 down with barely 20-odd minutes gone. Riggott then proceeded to hack away at anyone and everyone who had the misfortune to be in spitting distance of the Boro goal - first his own team mate, Arca who had the audacity to clear the ball to stop it rolling over the line, and then - earning his spot in this dislikeable XI team - a few yards from the centre spot, he went in high on Dave Kitson (who had earlier scored Reading's first top flight goal in history) and did extensive damage to his knee, such that Kitson barely played for the rest of that inaugural Premier League season. Talentless Thug. 

On the plus side, in looking him up just now while writing this, I've seen he's unattached and doesn't have anyone interested in him. Karma's a bitch, Chris.

(Riggott subsequently re-signed for Derby County)
Centre Back John Terry
If the Oxford English Dictionary genuinely accepted photographs as definitions, and defined phrases as well as words, the entry for "Flatters to Deceive" would be a big ol' picture of John Terry.

I hate to break this to those England fans (probably Chelsea sympathizers) who haven't noticed this yet, but Terry's nowhere near as good as he's touted to be. Yeah, he'll throw himself in harms way to block a shot - bravo - but how much of England's "hoof it upfield" woes have come from JT? Plenty, as he seems to treat the ball like it's on fire - get it out as quickly as possible, disrupt, destroy! Give me a ball-playing centre back any day of the week over Mr. Route One. Oh, and his off-field dalliances
certainly don't help his cause.

Right Midfield Danny Murphy

2008. Reading's second season in the Premier League. That well known Syndrome has been in full effect, but on the last day of the season, there's still hope. As long as we win and Fulham do not, we're staying up. We travel to Derby. We put 4 past them. There's not long left in the days games - a mere 14 minutes of regulation time. Could we have performed the great escape? Would we live to fight anoth... oh god, Danny Murphy's scored a header. He never scores headers.

And thus, Fulham preserve their top flight status and we return to the familiar surrounds of the second tier. You know what, Danny Murphy? Fulham have had plenty of time to enjoy the top flight.  Wouldn't have done them any harm to drop down for a year or two. Reading were going to extend their stadium capacity if they stayed up. Thanks for killing off all those jobs, Danny Murphy. Oh, and the hopes and
dreams of many a Royals fan.

Left Midfield Stewart Downing
His inclusion here is not entirely his own doing, I must admit. But Stewart Downing deserves his place on the left flank here for the simple fact that there is currently a bidding war going on for him in excess of £15m. Why does that make him dislikeable?

Easy! Cause he's really nothing special. He's a winger and he's got less than 10 assists in the past 2 years. He plays on the left, is English, and yet has done nothing to solve the English Left Side dilemma. He drifts in and out of games and is lightweight to a fault. £15m! Put a decimal point in there and we'll talk, but that's ludicrous.

Central Midfield Michael Essien
This wasn't a difficult choice, the man seems to consider his job half done if he doesn't go flying in studs-up at least once per half. Seemingly not in possession of a footballing brain, Essien is a classic example of a brute who gets away with a lot of vicious, malicious challenges simple because he plays for one of the league's top clubs. Guaranteed if he was playing for the likes of Stoke, Wigan or Fulham, he'd spend the vast majority of the season watching from the stands as he served out yet another suspension.

Striker Dean Windass

I'm not sure I even need to explain this as I'm pretty sure most of you read the name and thought "yep..." but for completeness, I'll tell you why I'm including him.

I don't know how well known Ivar Ingimarsson is outside of the Championship, but to those of us who follow Reading, he was a great servant and well known for his discipline. Prior to the 2003/04 season, he'd never been sent off - and in fact, to date, he's only been sent off twice. The first time in his English football career that he saw red was thanks to the aforementioned Windass who, while playing for Bradford decided that football wasn't enough of a game and going on the wind up would be better.

Not content with biting Ricky Newman in the build up to Bradford's opener, he then punched Ivar before headbutting him subtly. The icelander (perhaps understandably) pushed him away and received a sending off for his troubles, courtesy of a clueless Linesman who claimed he elbowed Windass. All smiles, the "model pro" Windass came off the pitch at the end of the game saying "I've conned him, I've conned the ref!" pleased as punch, before having to be escorted back to the dressing room by his teammates as the Reading players moved to confront him for his antics... I certainly don't miss the guy in the game.
Striker Tommy Smith

So, it's August 2009. Us Royals fans are still reeling from a second half of the season capitulation (a feeling we should probably have been getting used to) that saw our mighty Reading team drop from 2nd place (and an immediate return to the top flight) to the playoffs and the inevitable loss to eventual winners Burnley. Oh, not to mention the subsequent sale of our top players (Kevin Doyle, I still miss you every day...) and the resignation of our most successful manager of all time, Steve Coppell.

Now I'm sure you can imagine, that's a lot to take in one go. So, to preparations for the new season. New manager, new plan. We're sat refreshing the transfers page on SkySports website, hoping for some good news and lo and behold, what's that? Tommy Smith has passed a medical and is set to sign??! The same Tommy Smith who scored against us a few times? A GOALSCORER?! Rejoice... until, of course, we discover that he's swanned off to Portsmouth and signed there instead. I feel like his subsequent lack of form is the gods showing their opinion of his decision.

Striker Kenny Miller

Where to begin with this spiteful little scrote. He first appeared on my radar as he scored for Wolves at the Madejski and proceeded to celebrate the goal in front of the home fans rather than the substantial away support that had travelled down from the midlands. You stay classy, Kenny Miller - way to disrespect both sets of fans in one fell swoop... He's further helped in to this team by my ancestral roots: my family on my mother's side are staunch Rangers supporters and I was reminded on many a family visit north of the border that you don't cross the old firm divide as a player - especially not twice.

Manager Alan Pardew
A great way to undo years of hard work at a club and the respect and admiration that comes with it is to down tools and walk out for a club in the same division. For extra points in the "lost credibility" stakes, go ahead and claim the move was too good to resist given how "massive" the club is. And so it was with Alan "Parjudas" Pardew, who - on the back of transforming Reading from a team doing little of anything in the 2nd division (as was) to play off contenders in the 1st division (the old names were better, weren't they?) - decided that he'd very much like to abandon all that and manage West Ham - a truly massive club...several positions below Reading.

I enjoyed every single defeat he suffered at that club, especially his first return to the Mad Stad and a brace from Dave Kitson and of course, the 2006 FA Cup Final where he oversaw his team losing a 2-0 lead, a 3-2 lead and then a penalty shootout. Oh how I never tire of seeing his smug face fall.

Previous XIs

No. 1 - A United View
No. 3 - 9-Men
No. 4 - William Abbs
No. 5 - Goaltastic
No. 6 - Football Charlie
No. 7 - Phil Lupton
No. 8 - Lee Doane
No. 9 - Leazes Terrace
No. 10 - Gib Football Show
No. 11 - The Exiled Robin
No. 12 - Ashley Hurst

1 comment:

  1. Others who have slighted Reading FC would be Jose Mourinho, Mark Futcher and Andy Johnson.