Phil Dowd’s Curse on Aston Villa
Last season MOMS published the Home Office report of the number of banning orders that prevent Villa supporters from visiting Villa Park. What can’t be explained though is why the club hasn’t dished one out to public enemy number one of Villa Park, referee Phil Dowd?
Every time it’s announced that Dowd is referring an upcoming Villa game, Villa supporters let out a collective social media grown. Villa fans have even suggested at least it is a chance for Paul Lambert to rest a few players, knowing that his team now had no chance with Dowd in charge of the game.
In my mind’s eye, this is the referee responsible for denying Villa two League Cups, for killing off any last hope of Shaun Maloney’s Villa career, and also for contributing to Villa ‘s recent woeful home record.
The Final Nail in Shaun Maloney’s coffin.
The beginning of Stoke-on-Trent born Phil Dowd’s torment of Villa began in earnest on Boxing Day 2007. After Villa supporters celebrated Christmas day, Dowd was playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge 24 hours later at Stamford Bridge.
Martin O’Neil on top of paying over the odds for functional competent pros would occasionally buy in, on the cheap, a small player known for his technical flare. It was almost just for decoration of the Villa squad, as he rarely played them.
There was Wayne Routledge with his two appearances, but a year before him, also standing at five foot seven, was Shaun Maloney, who potentially offered Villa the guile in the final third that could have made a massive difference, especially when it came to breaking down teams at Villa Park.
At Stamford Bridge, Villa were killing Chelsea and 2-0 up in the first half due to a brace by Maloney, and well on course to dish out a beating on an out of sorts Chelsea team. O’Neil finally gave home-sick Maloney a proper chance and he was talking it. That is, until Dowd helped put an end to the diminutive Scot’s Villa career.
With seconds to go to the half-time whistle, Villa defender Zat Knight was sent off by referee Phil Dowd for ‘preventing a goalscoring opportunity’ (remember this quote of Dowd’s), when he was adjudged to have fouled Michael Ballack in the penalty box.
Knight never touched Ballack. The German midfielder had dived. Dowd reduced Villa to 10 men, and gave a penalty that proved to be the first of the next three goals in Chelsea’s favour due to their numeric advantage.
“Zat Knight’s sending off was a major moment,” O’Neill said after the game. “I’ve seen it a couple of times now and while I’m aware that I have the benefit of replays I will look at it again. It wasn’t a penalty. The Chelsea player went over and there was no contact.”
It was perhaps the pivotal game in deciding Shaun Maloney’s Aston Villa career. On a hat-trick with the whole second-half left to bag it, O’Neil sacrificed the Scot for a defender.
Maloney, who went on to win man of the match just by playing 45 minutes, had been in full flow and was finally enjoying life in a Villa shirt. The substitution pretty much made his mind up his mind there and then, he needed to leave B6, especially when O’Neill then didn’t give me much of a look-in in games afterwards.
What unfurled on the pitch was an incredible game and from the jaws of defeat, Villa twice equalised to earn a remarkable 4-4 draw against Chelsea.Without Dowd’s error though, it would have been a game they would have clearly won and Maloney may have developed into a Holte End hero.
Dowd Owes Villa Two League Cups
To this day, we don’t know why Nemanja Vidic didn’t walk for pulling down Gabriel Agbonlahor in the penalty box during the opening minutes of the 2010 League Cup final at Wembley. Was it a penalty? Hell, yes. He was the last man, yet didn’t even get a yellow card.
Remember what Dowd said about sending off Zat Knight off for not even touching Michael Ballack?
If you ever needed evidence for referees projecting the status quo and the interests of the Sky Four, look no further.
So what about this second League Cup he cost us? Well, even 3-1 down from the semi-final first leg against Bradford City last season, you’d have still backed Villa to get through. 2-0 against Bradford was hardly a big ask…well, until we discovered who was the referee for the evening at Villa Park.
Fast forward to the end of the game and witness the scenes of Bradford City players going up to Dowd to celebrate.
I mean, I know Dowd did a good job helping Bradford to the win, but they could have been a bit more subtle about it.
In Premier League there’s also a recent worrying trend that has begun with Dowd and Villa Park… Go to Page Two