This piece was published in the Surrey Mirror and online on getSurrey (http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/pathetic-merstham-boss-lays-players-13733753), while I was studying my NCTJ Diploma in London with Press Association.
An “embarrassment”, a “disgrace” and “pathetic” was how Merstham manager Hayden Bird described his side after they blew a one-goal lead against local rivals Dorking Wanderers at Moatside.
Ryan Hall had initially put the Moatsiders ahead in the 22nd minute with his seventh goal of the season after Jerome Beckles was sent off for the hosts, before Tom Tolfrey and Chris Boulter scored in the second half to give Dorking the three-points.
“I think the team were an embarrassment” said Bird. “They betrayed me, they betrayed the footballing philosophies, and from minute one to minute 93 I thought they were a disgrace.
“They didn’t play to the idea, they didn’t play to the philosophy, they ignored what they did in training and they can’t play against ten men.
“It was too appalling for me to even discuss.”
When asked about why his team had struggled to play against ten men, Bird pulled no punches. “They’re clearly not good enough” he said.
“And today they’ve been nicking a living. That’s taking a wage under false pretenses as far as I’m concerned and they’ve betrayed me, they’ve betrayed my work, and they’ve betrayed Merstham Football Club.”
Not to be drawn on what punishment, if any, will be handed out to his players or changes he will make to the side going forward, Bird slammed his side’s work ethic.
“You won’t win a league game at this level if your levels are that horrifically poor.”
Bird was also reticent to discuss the quality of the refereeing performance, something both him and Marc White seemed unhappy with throughout the game, with White receiving a talking to from the officials in the first half.
When asked, Bird said “I have my views on the referee but I don’t want to talk about the referee because there were three teams on the pitch today.
“There was Dorking, there was the referee and the linesmen, and there was Merstham, and Merstham were by far the worst team.
The only four players to escape Bird’s fury were the four unused substitutes, with the Moatsider boss blaming the rest of them entirely. “I think all of the players who played were absolutely pathetic,” he finished.