Sunday 09th May 2004

Francis blasts man-in-black for "shocking" performance

Cray Wanderers assistant manager, Joe Francis blasted referee Gary Johnson for his decisions during Saturday's Go Travel Kent League Premier Division Cup final, writes Stephen McCartney.

Two weeks ago, Johnson, 40, was interviewed at FA Headquarters in Soho Square for promotion to the national list of referees and duly gained this significant step up, and on Saturday at the Westbourne Stadium in Folkestone, he left supporters of Kent League football with a nasty taste in their mouth with his performance in Thamesmead Town's terrific 1-0 victory over double winners Cray Wanderers.

Speaking after the game, Francis, whose side were winners of the Kent League Cup last season, said: "I thought it was a very even game in difficult conditions.  

"I don't want to say too much about the officials but I thought he was an absolute disgrace!  He has disallowed a perfectly good goal - he has dragged it back for a free kick after Matt Woolf passed the ball for Sam Wood who went on to score - say no more!  Why doesn't he wait three or four seconds?" he asked.

Just like his manager, Ian Jenkins, Francis is waiting to see where his future lies.  But he hopes the club can win promotion and with that, the management duo will stay at the club.  But if the club are denied promotion sweeping changes both on and off the pitch could occur.

Francis added: "Ultimately we all want to go up together and we all want to go up as a unit.  We deserve it, as we have been the best team in the league for two years by far.

"It was just a bridge too far this week, our season came to an end possibly two weeks ago, and we've had a lot of big games.  It was our 55th game today, so that's difficult for some players." he admitted.

However, Francis was pleased his old friend, Thamesmead Town boss Paul Blade, collected the silverware, thanks to Marc Merridan's 32nd minute goal from close range brought the Kent League Cup to Bayliss Avenue for the first time.

He said: "Thamesmead are a good side.  If we wanted anybody to win it, we are pleased that Paul Blade's team have won it because they are a good side too. 

"I think if Paul looks back at his season, at least they have something to show for it with a little bit of silverware.  He is an old friend of mine and he knows the game, and I am pleased for him."

Francis, although calm,  reminded the man-in-black: "I'm not disappointed today - it left a bitter taste with the poor refereeing - shocking!  We give up too much of our time, too much of our lives and there are a lot of sacrifices to get here to play football every week, and we deserve better! Simple as that!"

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