In recent years it has been suggested that British cup competitions have needed rejuvenation. One official took this to an extreme this weekend as he took charge of a rather innocuous looking tie between Stoke and West Ham.
Although referee Mike Jones and his assistants took it to another level.
You do wonder whether they were actually working for the major North American sports leagues in order to help them with European expansion.
In all you can identify around five or six flagrant errors that the referee and his assistants made and the only excuse at the end of the game may be that they leveled each other out.
Perhaps the worst of these was the decision to allow West Ham’s first goal. Striker Frederic Piquionne looked more like Randy Moss than a lumbering centre forward as he leapt in the air to control the ball. Problem is that this is the wrong type of football and controlling it with an arm isn’t strictly allowed.
This was after Stoke has scored their first goal by incorporating the screen, borrowed after a training session with the 2004 Detroit Pistons, and Robert Huth leaping to score.
Going into the second half, Mr Jones saw fit to allow an NHL style dive in the area after Matty Etherington was hardly touched but as with penalty shots on the ice they are regularly missed, which was the case here.
There was still time for Stoke to be allowed a free five yards in which they could touch any players running in for a corner and a penalty not be awarded as West Ham pushed for an equalizer that would have meant a replay.
Stoke’s play does at times resemble a mixture between a game of Rugby Union played with the wrong shaped ball and the home run derby but it grinds teams down and in hindsight West Ham will feel rather aggrieved at losing the game.
Although Stoke, adding the “12th Man” borrowed from the Seattle Seahawks, finished off what North America’s sports will hope is a significant part of their efforts to penetrate the European market. That’s what it looked like anyway.