“It’s like the Romans, innit?” bellowed Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw (MBR&M) coach-for-the-day Ian Holloway. “When one moves forward, you all move forward.”
Holloway is more often to be found in the Queens Park Rangers home dressing room issuing instructions to his team, but was roped in as an emergency substitute for the showdown between MBR&M and a motley crew from HMV at Charlton Athletic FC’s ground earlier this month.
Not surprisingly, Crystal Palace manager Ian Dowie had cried off attendance at the charity event in aid of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy – his team having been relegated at the very same ground just three days previously.
Holloway was a more than able stand-in. His pre-match team-talk and constant instructions barked from the sidelines (such as “Swallow, you’re a passenger!” to The Lawyer’s deputy editor out on the right wing) inspired the troops no end. Having fallen behind to an early HMV strike, the legal eagles fought back to take a deserved 2-1 lead and looked to be cruising to a comfortable victory until a highly controversial penalty decision went against them. Despite constant pressure as the game drew to a close – including a couple of very solid penalty shouts of their own – a draw forced the game into penalties, when Charlton manager Alan Curbishley’s nous proved decisive.
It remains unclear whether MBR&M senior partner Paul Maher intends to sue on the grounds that the terms of the deal were that his team would be coached for the day by a “Premiership manager”.