FOOTBALL: SAVAGE: MY DUCKING & DIVING DAYS ARE OVER; WBA 1 Birmingham 1.
ROBBIE SAVAGE did professional football in general, and the Premiership in particular, a considerable service at the weekend.
Yes, THAT Robbie Savage - the self-styled "character" who irritates the hell out of most people.
In a burst of honesty, Savage ripped to shreds the idea that top players don't duck and dive in theatrical bids to get opponents into trouble.
From the lips of one who knows exactly what goes on, the fiercely-motivated Birmingham and Wales midfielder laid bare the lie which too often disfigures our game.
In the closing minutes of this clash between newly-promoted local rivals which provided plenty of evidence that both clubs will need to fight to the bitter end to maintain senior status, Savage was clearly and deliberately elbowed in the chest by Sean Gregan.
"If that had been the old me, I would have thrown myself to the ground in an effort to have him sent off," confessed Welsh hero Savage, who contested man-of-the-match status with fellow countryman and midfielder Andy Johnson.
"It would not have been a difficult thing to do, but this is a different Robbie Savage. I'm finally growing up.
"I was 28 on Friday, and my wife Sarah is expecting our first child. It will be Samuel if it's a boy, Sienna if it's a girl.
"Together with my club and country, I have a whole set of fresh responsibilities, so I have to react accordingly. Some might say it's not before time."
Reinvented or not, Savage still received what many of us must have been tempted to give him on occasion - a fat lip! Surprisingly, on this occasion, it was administered by referee Graham Poll, the official who dropped Savage in muddy water by reporting him over toilet misuse which cost the ex-Leicester star a controversial pounds 10,000 FA fine.
Savage went into a ruck, Poll intervened, calmed things down and one of his waving arms made contact with Savage's mouth.
"I know it was an accident," said Savage. "There are no hard feelings between myself and Graham. We got on very well together in the first game since that business last season.
"I'm continuing my appeal against the pounds 10,000 fine, and hoping to be told the date of my personal hearing soon."
Perhaps the message being spelled for Savage was that you often end up taking all the punishment when you decide to turn the other cheek.
Surprisingly, there was rather a lot of cheek- turning in the first half, when this eagerly-awaited encounter resembled nothing more than a lacklustre, mean-nothing fixture.
Birmingham boss Steve Bruce revealed: "After half-an-hour I heard Gary Megson complaining: 'Is this a testimonial game?'
"But to be fair, it livened up after that, and we are a little disappointed after grabbing the lead near the end, and surrendering it again."
That sudden burst of activity was sparked by Olivier Tebily's 81st-minute dismissal for a second booking in his running battle with West Brom striker Jason Roberts. Bruce exclaimed: "That red card was ridiculous."
Darren Moore's comic own goal gave the visitors the lead but Albion, who possibly deserved to pinch all three points on the balance of play, equalised when Roberts cut through on a Neil Clement pass, side-stepped Darren Carter's challenge and aimed the ball past goalkeeper Nico Vaesen.
SAVAGE: Making a stand
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Oct 21, 2002|
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