Leopards Never Change Their Spots (well with one exception?)

Now, I personally have never been too intimate with many leopards. you may have been, but each to his own I say.

So, what am I referring to? Well, if I find out I will tell you.

This weekend, I was at home for a few hours with Tom. Michelle was not coming down, so it was time for some father & son time. We went to the cycling club on Saturday morning, but didn’t realise there were races on. This meant we could not ride on the road circuit, so we set off to ride home. We each chose to ride separate routes home and meet back at home. I got around 15-16 miles in and Tom did a few more.

Saturday afternoon brought a trip to Orient to watch them play Notts County. Tom on his new found health kick was unable to resist the very unhealthy bacon & egg baguette & chips at the cafe ( a leopard not changing his spots!) This slim line chap of course had the jacket potato with tuna, no butter or mayonnaise and a side salad.

The game itself brought the return to Orient of Stuart Nelson, now in goal for Notts County. To call him a goalkeeper is an insult to thousands of goalkeepers who play on a Sunday morning. Nelson is amazing at watching the ball go under him, over him and past him into the net. He was drummed out of Orient after some shocking performances. True to form, he managed to try to trip an Orient player and missed him! He also watched the orient second goal go into the net not bothering to try to stop it going in. A leopard never changes his spots remember!

The game itself was a rather enjoyable affair, indeed it was 42 minutes old before I looked at my watch for the first time. Most of the first half was at the other end of the pitch as Orient were kicking that way and were on top. I never really noticed the referee in the first half. After about 5 minutes of the second half, Orient were attacking our end and the referee came near us. “F*cking Hell, You know who that is?” I was heard to exclaim. Puzzled looks from Tom and those around me. I said its the clown who refereed the Cambridge game a few seasons back and so lost control that each time he whistled the players were asking each other what had happened and why he had whistled. I have seen him since a couple of times and he has been equally awful. He can’t control a game and ends up way out of his depth. A quick scout around for someone with a programme confirmed that it was indeed the referee of my nightmares, Grant Hegley. He is the only referee who I have seen who is worse than my mate Trelford f*cking Mills.

I did have to say that I wondered if Hegley had improved as he had not been too bad so far in the game. However on 54 minutes (less than 4 minutes after i realised who it was), he proved me right that leopards can’t change their spots.

The Orient player I referred to earlier tries to round the keeper, Nelson attempts to trip him. This results in the Orient player stumbling, a penalty?. Well the Orient player managed a shot at goal, which was blocked by a Notts County player sliding back into the goalmouth. The ball hit his arm. Hegley blew for a penalty, but for which foul? He then went to speak to the linesman who had also flagged for a foul. Whilst Hegley was having a discussion with the linesman, the Notts County yob, sorry manager, Paul Ince behaved like the gentleman he claims to be by throwing a cup of tea at the Orient chief scout – all this in front of the 4th official. Paul Ince, a leopard who can’t change his spots

After finishing his chat with the linesman, Hegley walks the width of the pitch to have a chat with Paul Ince before eventually sending him from the dugout. Hegley then walks back to the penalty area and orders the penalty to be taken. Still no indication what the offence was. Hegley did not book or speak to either Notts County player. Now, if its a penalty for handball, it must be deemed to be intentional as its not a foul if accidental. Deliberate handball carries a red card! The attempted trip is at the very least a yellow card, and as Nelson was the last man, it carries a red card. The refereeing from this point degenerated as Hegley had no control. Indeed it was 5 minutes from the time of the penalty award until it could be taken because Hegley lost control of the situation.

The exception? That has to be my mate Stewie, a lifelong football fan and someone who has been the star of TV, newspaper and courtrooms for his exploits after a few bottles of Pear cider, vodka or indeed anything alcoholic. After many many years living with his good lady, he went and married her last Friday. The news announced after the deed was done took many by surprise, some would say him as well. Congratulations Stewie- a leopard changing his spots?

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