There was a post on Red Passion after we played at Peterborough earlier this month which made a very good point. As Darren Ferguson made his rather pathetic attack on us, there was a danger that some of the mud would stick. We weren't a voilent bunch of thugs, Steve Evans certainly didn't taking a running jump and butt their goalkeeper, who of course was able to play just three days later despite the suggestion that he was fatally wounded after the game, and we played much more good football than Peterborough did.
However, the poster suggested that if referees see Ferguson's comments then our card might be marked.
Bearing this in mind you can see why my heart sunk when I saw who our referee is for the rematch on Tuesday.
Mick Thorpe has reffed us four times, and each one was traumatic in one way or other. To be fair, generally the events which hurt us were nothing to do with Thorpe, to be fair, but
The first game he took charge of was at Scunthorpe on the first day of the 2002-3 season; in fact it was his first game as a Football League ref. It was the game which was marred, like the Birmingham-Arsenal match yesterday, by a terrible injury, as Waynne Phillips' career was ended. It wasn't a foul, just an unfortunate accidnet, and Thorpe could do nothing to prevent it, but bad luck seems to have followed him around ever since as far as we're concerned.
When we kicked off against Grimsby we were unbeaten for forty-one days, the longest length of time we'd been without tasting defeat, discounting Summer breaks, since November 2004 when Thorpe took charge of the spectacular collapse of an in-form team as we lost 5-1 at Luton.
Again, I don't recall anything Thorpe did to upset us in that game; our hammering had more to do with Simon Spender being used as a makeshift centre-back in a back three and being exposed in the air by Howard. However, Thorpe played his part in our next encounter, at Notts County in August 2005. In injury time Dennis Lawrence was fouled, but Thorpe didn't give it, didn't stop the game to allow the centre back treatment, and as Wrexham protested County scored the winning goal. Thorpe must have felt some guilt as immediately after the restart Dave Bayliss, giving us a first glimpse of his unreliable temperament, launched into an idiotic assault on a County player which Thorpe failed to punish with a red card despite the victim having stud prints on his kidney!
One more game to throw into the pot, and this one amazes me. Thorpe was ref for our spectacular meltdown at Peterborough in the F.A. Cup last November. Why has he been chosen to officiate the same fixture again so soon? It seems odd, as does a certain geographical matter. Thorpe is from Suffolk; let's hope by the end of the game we don't suspect that he cadged a lift to The Racecourse from his Peterborough neighbours!