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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Kevin Nolan column
Kevin Nolan
By Kevin Nolan
Bolton captain

Use of the arm and elbows in football has been the big talking point this week.

Every time you see the incident with Ben Thatcher it gets worse because you know what is coming.

It was sad to see. My team-mate Gary Speed knows Ben well and I have obviously played against him.

Kevin Davies (right) wins a header against Charlton's Talal El Karkouri
Kevin never swung his arm to hurt the player - he is not that kind of player

Speedo said he is a great lad and Harry Redknapp said the same. He is well-liked but it was wrong what he did and I am sure he will have been upset when he saw the replay.

He is a fully committed player and I am sure he did not mean to knock Pedro Mendes out. He probably wanted him to know he was around and went too far.

But the FA and Manchester City will deal with it and all he can do is take the ban and learn from his mistakes.

There were two elbow incidents in our game at Charlton.

Kevin Davies had to have surgery after suffering a cheekbone injury in a clash with Hermann Hreidarsson.

If Hermann looks at it again he will know he was wrong. Even his own players knew what he did was wrong but he'll get a three-game ban and it is the punishment he deserves and then it is all forgotten.

But Kevin carried on in that game and was then sent off himself, for a challenge on Amady Faye.

I think the referee wanted to even it up and the incident with Kevin was his chance to do it.

I really think Kevin did not intentionally hurt the player and Amady Faye did say after that he didn't touch him.

Kevin never swung his arm to hurt the player - he is not that kind of player.

He is a real honest professional and I felt sorry for him but that's the game of football.

The referee could have handled it better but I have had my say and it is time to move on.

It is very tough on referees to make a split decision on whether an elbow is deliberate or not.

As I mentioned last week I run a Sunday league side and you see young lads who jump in the air and use their arms exactly like the professionals.

Everyone jumps like that because it gives you more leverage and height and offers you some protection.

Referees only get a split-second to make a decision

You cannot jump with your hands by your sides.

Defenders have been taking elbows for years. The gaffer at Bolton, Sam Allardyce, even has a saying that you are not a true centre-half until you have broken your nose.

They just see it as part of the day job.

I think players are probably stronger mentally and physically than in the past but previously you would get away with absolutely everything.

Now they have stamped out a lot but you are never going to be able to spot everything.

Referees are not going to get everything right, they are not computers and they put themselves up to be shot at just like us players.

We have four officials who see the game and they are all in contact with each other.

It is a tough, quick, physical game and referees only get a split-second to make a decision.

But it would only take five seconds for someone to have a look at the monitor and then tell the referee in his ear piece if he has to go or not. It would not slow the game down.

They have almost real-time replays these days. As soon as something happens we have a monitor on our substitute bench and you can see it two seconds later.

The fourth official could do that as well and then maybe we can get rid of the cheating and the diving.

Obviously people still wouldn't be happy with challenges like Ben Thatcher's but incidents could be dealt with there and then and we wouldn't have had all this controversy dragging on.


Congratulations on your column and good luck with your bid to break into the England team. As a Greek man, I have to confess that I support Bolton because of Stelios playing there and Bolton has become Greece's favourite English team. Are you aware of that? Have you ever been in Greece or have you been invited by Stelios?
Tasos, Greece

I have been to a few places in Greece like Kavos and Malia. Stelios has told me to come over one summer but I haven't managed it yet. I'm aware we have a big following over there and he's a big name over there. I get tons of letters from all around the world which is fantastic and hopefully the club will continue to grow.

Don't sit on the fence mate - stick the boot in. Should Ben Thatcher be sent to prison after hospitalising a player?
Dan, Wembley

I think prison might be a bit harsh but it was a nasty challenge and thankfully everything is OK. I'm sure he'll get a deserved punishment and hopefully he will learn from it and carry on having a good career.

Do you think Nicolas Anelka will gel with you and the other team-mates?
Phil Carson, England

We met Nicolas before the Charlton game and he spent the weekend with us. We met him again on Wednesday and he seems a lovely lad. I don't think he will have a problem gelling with us as we have quite a few French speakers in Diouf, Faye and Meite. We get on really well with them and have a good mixture so I hope he'll settle in and do the business like he has at virtually every club he's been at. It is a massive step for us to get such a player of quality in.

What is the worst excuse you have heard from a fellow pro for being late or missing training and who was it?
Neil Cameron, Scotland

The worst excuse was saying they were minding the baby but I wouldn't like to say who that was. We've got quite an honest bunch of lads. I was late a few years back because I slept in and the lads were still waiting for me and I was in bed. Obviously living in Liverpool it took me an hour to get in and don't think that went down too well. But luckily he didn't drop me - I think we only had 11 players!

Kevin, your goal celebration is legendary in my house with my six kids mimicking the hand signal you use, but is it true that it's sign language?
Tim, UK

Someone explained to me halfway last season that it means I love you in sign language. It wasn't something I did because of that but it is nice to hear people like it. How it started was a few lads went to Mexico and a lot of the Americans do it when they are at a nightclub and a good song comes on. We started doing it as a celebration in the swimming pool when we were messing around so my mates told me to do it. But it has been popular - going down the motorway I get kids doing it to me. I normally change it yearly so I'm not sure if I'll do it this year. No-one has come up with any suggestions for anything different as I won't do anything stupid that makes me look like an idiot - it has to be something simple and effective. I can't do the Peter Crouch as I don't think I have the moves, maybe I need to go and get some dance lessons.

  • Send us your questions for Kevin using the post form in the top right-hand corner and we will post a selection of the best here next week.

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    I will not sue Thatcher - Mendes
    27 Aug 06 |  Portsmouth
    Thatcher dropped & charged by FA
    25 Aug 06 |  Man City
    Bolton dealt Davies injury blow
    28 Aug 06 |  Bolton Wanderers
    Charlton 2-0 Bolton
    26 Aug 06 |  Premiership


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