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Anthony Gordon marks 20th birthday with ceremonial football match — Report
Thursday, 25th Feb 2021 18:11 by Clive Whittingham

Twenty-year-old Everton loanee Anthony Gordon — 20 on Wednesday — marked his twentieth birthday, on Wednesday, with a twentieth birthday celebratory football match, in which QPR were sort of involved, at Deepdale, on Wednesday.

Matthew 2:1 — 12 — The Magi visit the Messiah

After Anthony Gordon was loaned unto Preston in Lancashire, during the time of lockdown, Magi from the Sky studios came to Liverpool and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Liverpool with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be loaned. “In Preston in Lancashire,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Preston, in the land of Lancashire, are by no means least among the rulers of Lancashire, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people.’

Then Herod called Alan Parry secretly and found out from him the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Preston and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the floodlight they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the ground where the child was. When they saw the light, they were overjoyed. On coming to the ground, they saw the child with Alex Neil, and they bowed down and worshiped his ability to get to the byline and put the ball into a "good area". Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and man of the match trophies to mark his twentieth birthday, which was on Wednesday. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country via the M6 toll, even though it costs extra.

And lo, another two hours of lockdown was passed. By watching something passing for professional football, played between two teams exhausted by the sport's insistence it could just carry on as normal in exceptional circumstances, in conditions that came close to bringing about a postponement - if only there was anywhere else in the schedule to put it. A gruelling evening made next to unbearable by the half-arsed, sycophantic slop that apparently counts as professional broadcast coverage of this division, in which Todd Kane has been “excellent for Queens Park Rangers this season” and narrative as basic and lazy as ‘oh look it’s that lad’s birthday today’ are hauled out in front of the paying subscribers and beaten repeatedly with a board with a nail in it until only a powder remains. Of it. And your brain.

Anthony Gordon, on loan from Everton, and 20 on Wednesday, or so we were incessantly informed, was the object of attraction. Rewarded for a decent cameo in a 4-0 defeat at Cardiff at the weekend with a start here, on his birthday, as one of four changes made by Alex Neil to his starting 11. Gordon, 20 going on 12, had a good birthday night. He almost had a goal to go with the jelly and ice cream when Geoff Cameron cracked through Ched Evans (round of applause for Geoff) and the offspring of Dobby the House Elf tried to catch Seny Dieng out with a speculative free kick from super long range. The keeper read his intentions and saved well. That would have been a nice present, for his birthday, which was on Wednesday, and would also have crowned a man of the match performance, which Sky presented him and jokingly referred to as a birthday present, because it was his birthday, on Wednesday, the day of the game.

There were other moments for the birthday boy on his birthday as well. Rob Dickie came across and spoiled the birthday party with a typically stout piece of defending as he threatened to break clear in a counter attack on 35 minutes. Dickie was less convincing when caught under a cross from another newcomer, anaemic Liverpool loanee Sepp van den Berg, and birthday boy Gordon guided a back post header over. In the second half Dickie got too close to the 20-year-old on the day he turned 20 and took a yellow card from referee Darren England for a deliberate foul, and soon Feminist's Friend Evans was heading into the side netting when well placed to do better after Gordon torment down the right this time had led to a corner. Birthday.

Nobody could argue Gordon was the best player on the pitch, and an obvious man of the match. Nor that it was a big relief when Neil, weirdly, decided to take him off and replace him with Tom Barkhuizen, condemning a game long since on life support to slip away quietly into a nil nil draw. And it’s not like there was a great deal else to talk about in a match that started frenetically, flying from end to end, but suffered through weather and fatigue and quickly petered out into a draw both teams seemed reasonably content with. But not since the heady era of websites counting down the days to Charlotte Church’s sixteenth birthday, so all the dirty old pervs would know when they could legitimately wrap nicotine-ravaged fingers around shrivelled willies and crack one off over her big tits, has there ever been such a weird obsession by so many grown ups with the fucking birthday of one pale child.

It could only, surely, have been a behind-the-scenes sweepstake on how often it could be mentioned, and who could do it more often. But Neil wouldn’t have been in on that, and when he honed into view for his post-match and announced immediately that it was Anthony Gordon’s sodding twentieth birthday I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I can’t watch football like this any more. I can’t do it. I beg of you. Open the gates, I’ll pay, what do you want, £60? £100? A grand? Just take it. I’ll give you a grand now if you let me go to the Birmingham game on Saturday. Vaccine? Jab me up. Mask? Not an issue, I’ll wear a chuffing hazmat suit if you want. Vaccine passport, identity card, one of those lead cups they put over their bollocks at Chernobyl? Anything. Anything. The only thing stopping me getting in would be my erection getting caught in the turnstile. I just, I can’t, I can’t sit here, sober, coiled in tension, watching Championship football, in empty stadiums, with these inane, bland narratives and the thoughts of Lee Hendrie, and Andy Hinchcliffe sticking “quite” in front of everything, any more. I don’t care, I can’t do it any more, I don’t care, stop making me do this, wheel me in in a bastard iron lung if you have to. I can feel my love for this sport, my enthusiasm, my life, my intelligence draining out of me. An absolute costume of a man, obit destined to conclude “…before turning the gun on himself.”

Is there not a producer somewhere, or a match director, in the earpiece, just giving it a quiet “ok lads, we get it’s Anthony Gordon’s birthday” (twentieth, on Wednesday) “let’s move the conversation on a bit eh?” No, of course there isn’t, because he’s too fucking busy rolling in fucking replays of fuck all happening, or close ups of managers standing there watching fuck all happening, while actual stuff is happening somewhere else. Ooh, Daniel Iversen’s got the ball. Wonder how that happened? Well, no idea, because we were being forced to watch Alex Neil standing and looking instead. Maybe there should be a red button feature where we could ask him. Ooh, good position Rangers, but could do with an overlap down the left here, ah wait there is an overlap down the left here it was just obscured by the biggest fucking graphic ever fucking conceived of QPR’s next six fixtures. I know QPR’s next six fixtures. I know it’s Anthony Gordon’s fucking birthday. And I don’t give a single fucking flying toss what Alex Neil is up to standing on the touchline. I need to be there now, in the rain, deciding myself what I want to look at, and what narrative I’ve taken from the game. I need to be in that dodgy pub opposite the station, not the one with the fireplace, the other one than used to have the IRA stickers in the bogs.

Just… make it fucking stop.

Of course, the easiest way to have made it stop would have been for QPR to make it seven wins from eight. To continue a remarkable about turn in form sparked by a formation change and January additions down the spine of the team. I mean, who cares about anything else when Rangers win eh? We left the Whetstone Spar Shop looking like the aftermath of the Lockerbie air disaster post Brentford.

Deepdale hadn’t been a happy hunting ground prior to last season’s 3-1 win, but North End’s home record is dire this year with just four wins and nine losses prior to Wednesday. It was, in theory, all here for us, and had Lyndon Dykes scored either in the fifth minute when Austin got him through on goal down the right, or in the twelfth when Cameron's elaborate long pass did the same down the left, then who knows how far home heads might have dropped and what the outcome would have been. He was unfortunate with the first, doing everything right, going across the goalkeeper for the far corner with a well struck shot, only for Iversen to make a fine save with a trailing leg. The second attempt, though, was abject — a lob that wouldn’t have even made the goal if there’d been nobody around. No goals in 16 now for the Scotland international. Marvel at the eyes-to-ball-direction ratio in this snapshot…

There were other chances. Dom Ball, revelling in a crowded midfield and driving rain, very nearly went steaming through the heart of the home defence onto an Ilias Chair pass on 28 but was just about crowded out. Austin sliced wide with his left foot on 50 minutes when a corner dropped his way — by his high standards, a good opening. A swift counter shortly afterwards saw Kane feed Austin and he probed at the near post where Iversen’s handling had to be immaculate under heavy interest in the rebound. But, in truth, QPR’s players looked tired, taking time to get into the game initially, and then fading after a bright start to the second half. Their tactic of dragging the opponent to one side and then switching the play to the opposite wing back, which worked so well in the win at Watford, played out perfectly here on multiple occasions only to break down at Todd Kane’s various abysmally executed, under-hit, over-hit and barely-hit crosses. Might be worth having your fingers in your ears for real for a few days mate.

Preston were forced by contract situations into letting eight players go in January, including key men Darnell Fisher, Ben Pearson The Goblin Boy, and Ben Davies, for a relative pittance. Eight came the other way, including more loans than they can play in a matchday squad, and even their imperious away form has deserted them of late, now two wins from 11 in all comps. But they could easily have scrapped out a 1-0 here, with QPR’s number one January transfer target Ben Whiteman depressingly influential and absolutely perfect looking for the spot in our midfield he’d be occupying.

Kane just about got Browne’s testing nineteenth minute cross behind for a corner from which Cameron lost van den Berg and Dieng saved his header well. Overall Rangers did ok standing up to a succession of first half corners, certainly a far cry from the set piece horrors of 2020, but the recalled Brad Potts wasn’t far away at all with a snap shot from one that dropped his way out of a crowd, and many goalkeepers at this level wouldn’t have been able to cope with a twelfth minute looping header destined for the far corner under heavy pressure from opponents and team mates alike as well as Dieng did — firm, confident, clean hands, strength, and a firm stance to prevent it being carted over the line. He did get away with a rare poor kick in first half stoppage time — Evans slicing a good chance wide — but we’ll let him have that one. More Preston shots in the first 45 here than any other first half they've played this season. Stand up Seny, everybody look at Seny.

Potts and Cunningham took turns in blasting miles over the bar in the final half an hour. Iversen made a nervy save as Austin tried his luck from 20 yards. Both teams had penalty appeals, Chair seemingly caught by the otherwise excellent Whiteman after getting to a bouncing ball first but nobody else seemed to think so, Browne on the end of a typical all-or-nothing fool’s errand from Yoann Barbet which the Frenchman just about got right with a touch on the ball. Referee Darren England ignored both, but did show a yellow card to Stefan Johansen for taking his opportunity after an initial clean tackle to stamp on the inside of Ched Evans’ thigh. Right at the top where it would really hurt. High five.

Cunningham’s pathetic late collapse to the ground attempting to get Mac Bonne sent off was really quite something. He gets zero, just for this. The game, though, had been destined to finish goalless long before that embarrassment.

Todd Kane concluded proceedings hooking a cross into the stand with four men up in support in the box, which rather summed up his ropey night after recent improvements. Fellow boo-boy favourite Lee Wallace fared a good deal better on the other side, but then he only had to cope with Scott Sinclair, who showed about as much interest in this game as he did in his 2007 stint at Loftus Road.

There was a deal of frustration, because it felt like if we’d been anywhere near the levels we’ve been at in recent away games we’d have won this. The amount of times Kane got into good positions and wasted them was mind blowing, the chances that Dykes missed earlier in the game real tooth grinders, that Chair penalty appeal… It just felt at times like we were sloppier in our work than we have been of late, but given the fatigue, and the conditions, you could forgive that. It’s a game we’d probably have lost before Christmas, showing the increased determination of the team, its better shape and effectiveness as a unit, and the strength of a defence which now has nine clean sheets to its name. It’s also one of those places where a point is rarely a bad result, and really it shows how far we’ve come in a short time that we are perhaps a little bit disappointed not to have won. Seven unbeaten away from home? Yes please.

If you’d offered me this result, and all the others we’ve had since the turn of the year, back in December then you’d currently be shopping for a prosthetic arm. Take the point, and the party bag, and never remember the game again.

Happy birthday Nadia.

Links >>> Photo Gallery >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

PNE: Iversen 7; van den Berg 7, Storey 6, Hughes 6, Cunningham 0; Browne 6, Whiteman 7; Sinclair 5, Potts 6 (Johnson 87, -), Gordon 20 (Barkhuizen 80, -); Evans 6 (Jakobsen 87, -)

Subs not used: Bayliss, Rafferty, Molumby, Huntington, Ripley, Rodwell-Grant

QPR: Dieng 7; Dickie 6, Cameron 6, Barbet 6; Kane 5, Ball 7, Johansen 6 (Field 78, 6), Chair 6, Wallace 6; Dykes 5 (Willock 67, 6), Austin 6 (Bonne 78, 6)

Subs not used: Lumley, Kakay, Hämäläinen, Kelman, Adomah

Bookings: Johansen 70 (foul), Dickie 72 (foul)

QPR Star Man — Dom Ball 7 His kind of night, his kind of game, and he played it well, not only as a midfield presence without the ball, but also driving forwards effectively with a few impressive/hilarious shoulder drops. Dieng excellent as ever, perhaps I’m a little guilty of taking that for granted.

Referee — Darren England (Barnsley) 7 I thought the Chair penalty shout was worthy of more attention than it seems anybody else did, and he went through a couple of stages of real pedantry over the placement of free kicks and minor offences, but not too bad overall.

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Myke added 18:27 - Feb 25
Cheers Clive. To be fair to the lad he had a pretty decent game. To be fair to Sky there was feck all else to talk about , especially 2nd half

thehat added 19:10 - Feb 25
Great stuff Clive it was a toss up between Barbet and Ball as MOM for me.

I just gave it to Barbet last night due to the fantastic defenceive header late on to deny Ched Evans a certain goal.

Ball was good too reminds me of Martin Allen


WestonsuperR added 19:20 - Feb 25
I thought it was a fairly decent game, certainly not bad a 0v0, some reasonable football played in very tough conditions.

Barbet MOM for me, defence has been outstanding recently and Barbet key to this.

MrSheen added 19:39 - Feb 25
Still, to cushion his disappointment at being subbed, he did get a hand delivered birthday card from Lionel Messi begging him to come and protect his llegacy.

I thought the commentator bounced back well from the shock of his departure by prattling about the 13 boot labours of Ilias Chair.

denhamhoop2 added 19:59 - Feb 25
To be fair Hendrie will have a hard on for Gordon a young slight wide player at his local top flight club who are living on their glorious past. Who starts off brightly talk of possible England career who struggles to actually gets games for them ends up transferring to Middlesbro/Forest and retires by his early 30s thanks to his off field activities. That's my predictions for Gordon hope I'm wrong just seen it too many times before

062259 added 22:18 - Feb 25
Kane 5? You’re ‘avin a laugh!! His crossing was execrable. According to, Kane attempted 12 crosses and not a single one found its target. Yes, he gets into position well to make the cross, but the end product is consistently no better than park football standard.

timcocking added 06:23 - Feb 26
that photo of Dykes lol

JustJules added 09:02 - Feb 26
Watched it on Viasat over here in Sweden and the commentator was the same. By the end of the game I was feeling guilty I hadn't got him a birthday present.

enfieldargh added 09:52 - Feb 26
JUst so you all know mines the 25th November and I'd like one of those things that helps you get into sports venues, not keys ...oh yes a match day ticket please.

Fabulous report one million times more entertaining than the game. Thank God it was his birthday!!

francisbowles added 10:15 - Feb 26
Clive, why were you watching it on the evil network? Does your wifi have a reliability issue?

I watched it on the club stream same pictures, long shot of Alex Neil (yes I know what he looks like, thanks) whilst the game carries on. However, if the commentary mentioned it was his birthday, I must have missed it. I had no idea, lol.

Thank god, I didn't have to listen to the inane ramblings on the TV.


Northernr added 10:21 - Feb 26
Picture quality + gives me something to write about.

TacticalR added 11:03 - Feb 26
Thanks for your report, which I can tell is the product of a lot of pain and suffering.

I listened to the Andy Sinton/Nick London commentary, so I missed all the birthday boy stuff.

Despite their poor home record and ditching key players in January, Preston looked quite good, especially in the first half. On another day, their tactic of getting to the byline or the side of the box and then pulling the ball back for players to shoot would have got them a goal, it was just that their final shot was off target.

We looked tired and fragmented, and Kane's crossing is so frustrating when the whole team have crafted an opportunity and got into position.

So on balance, this is a point gained.

ivoranidea added 16:09 - Feb 26
Great report Clive, pity you didn't mention the fact that one of the Preston players had a birthday on Wednesday,

bermudabob added 16:30 - Feb 26
I thought the comment from the studio pundits that they felt Preston had decided tactically to let Kane "cross" and defend the cross rather than pressing him was probably true and very telling.

NayDaze added 17:45 - Feb 26
Very funny 😆 Any cake?

extratimeR added 17:50 - Feb 26
Didn't we have an Alex Neil Sky continuous picture crisis last season as well?

I vaguely remember the Sky camera fixated on him for what felt like 15 or 20 minutes?

Nick Parry appears to believe that all the QPR players are called Charlie Austin or Geoff Cameron, can thus be correct?

Surely we would have noticed this when the team sheets were read out? No wonder they are exhausted.

Very, very funny Clive!

BrazilNutR added 19:29 - Feb 26
Enjoyed that as alway,

Brazilian commentary was amusingly very similar with equal interest about Gordon and in particular his birthday. I also find the Brazilian commentators really really annoying the way they shorten the names,, so they only ever referred to PNE as "Preston North" and us as "Queens Park", it really grates!

I did find it particularly funny that the 2 Brazilian commentators on ESPN were so amazed by the level of shithousery regarding Cunningham's theatrics, which for Brazilians to be shocked is quite the barometer for just how awful it was.. and they also both felt it was a good and entertaining game - another indication of just how unwatchable Brazilian league football usually is.

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