Even now, a week on, the disallowing of Freddie Sears' goal, the 'ghost goal', at Bristol City still feels surreal. No doubt you've all seen it.
Freddie's shot hits the back of the net, he goes away to celebrate, all the City lads are on their knees and their fans go quiet. After what seemed an eternity we notice the referee is running off towards the corner flag, not the halfway line. From that moment we just couldn't believe what was happening. I remember saying to the fourth official, "You have to tell him. He can't have seen it." The fourth official didn't want to know. Nor did Gary Johnson, City's manager, and the other lads on their bench when I shouted across to them, "You've got to do the right thing."
Over the weekend I got to know the facts. The ref went across and asked the linesman if he'd seen it go in. He was aware of what our lads were saying and hoping the linesman had seen it. But the linesman hadn't. He obviously was not up with play.
I had sympathy for the ref. They are told if they are not 100 per cent sure the ball is over the line then they can't give a goal. He was blinded by two players for a split-second so could not be sure. When he needed help from his officials they were the only ones in the ground not to have seen it. All four missed it! The body language of everyone involved made it clear what had happened, but if you haven't played the game maybe you don't pick that up.
At half-time we said, "it's gone, you've got to get on with the game," but it's so difficult. It was sod's law that they scored in the last minute. I was slaughtered for not shaking a City player's hand afterwards but I make no apology. I might be a big mouth and not everyone's cup of tea but I'm never a hypocrite.
There are a few things I'd like to point out. If you think I only said City should have let us score because it was my team involved, let me assure you last season I went public and said I felt Reading were wrong not to give a goal back to Watford when they were awarded that ridiculous goal when the ball had not gone in.
I'd also like to clear up the nonsense about the linesman seeing a foul in the build-up to the goal, something City officials and some of their fans seized on. There was never a foul and Gary Johnson, his staff and players know that. I can see where it came from. About 20 minutes after the goal the fourth official said to me, "Neil there might have been a foul in the build-up." I smiled wryly and said, "I'm not surprised in the least, if there was it will save you all getting crucified, but you and I know there wasn't." Keith Hackett, the referees' supremo, later rang me to apologise and confirm there was no foul.
The incident re-opened the can of worms about technology. Refs need help and, to be fair to Keith, he's been trying to bring in goalline technology for years but Fifa has resisted. The referee also called to apologise. In fairness to him, as I said to the fourth official with 10 minutes to go, he'd had a great game, apart from the goal, so how do I mark him?
I'd like to add that there was no danger of the FA charging me, so I was a bit surprised to see the old breaking news flash up that they had not. At the press conference, I said (1) I did feel cheated, (2) the referee needed help and we have to give refs technical assistance, and (3) when asked by a journalist, "surely the game should be replayed?" I said: "It should but there's as much chance of that as flying a kite on the moon."
Over the next few days those quotes mutated. I believe the journalistic term is "twirling", or "adding a bit of gravy". Most journalists were very supportive of my position but for some this enabled them not to let the facts get in the way of a good story. One took the chance to really slaughter, and I'll be consulting the lawyers. But he's a Norwich fan and a practising Sunday morning ref so he's probably not in the sunniest of minds at the moment. Generally the reaction has been heartening. I've had numerous managers ring me and letters from Bristol City fans apologising for their own club.
I got away from it all in Cornwall. There's no better way of clearing your head than going down to the harbour at Looe and skimming stones. Will did a fiver, Amy a sevener, and I was world champion with a niner. I don't know whether I should mention Sharon only a got a two-er, and that was on a generous count.
But I still couldn't sleep on Saturday night. On Sunday, the phone went all the time and I wondered how to get it out of my mind. I tuned in to the evening news. Within 30 seconds the headlines listed a 10-year-old girl being swept out to sea at Clacton, an 18-month-old child falling off a balcony on holiday, and three more soldiers killed in Afghanistan. I thought to myself, "Bloody hell, and I'm getting wound up about a goal." From that moment I forgot about it.
I said the same to the lads when we trained on Tuesday before playing at Ipswich. I said, "It's just a goal, you could be in Afghanistan but instead you're playing football. Let's realise how lucky we are and enjoy it."
That night, for whatever reason, we put on one of the best away performances any of my teams have ever played.
2. Idowu's leap had me jumping for joy
When we were arriving at Ipswich we had the athletics on the TV. Mick Jones and I couldn't leave the bus for watching Phillips Idowu, the triple jumper who seemed to have earrings everywhere. Thankfully he had a vest and pants on so I can't go into more detail. When he did the winning leap Mick and I punched the air. It was brilliant. As a Sheffielder I was also so proud of Jessica Ennis, who won heptathlon gold. She's overcome major injuries and funding problems but showed fantastic guts and determination, and that you don't have to be over 6 ft tall.
3. City visit crowns a big week at the Palace
What a cracking week in prospect at Selhurst Park: Newcastle United today, Manchester City in the Carling Cup on Thursday. Newcastle are joint-top already and will be a fantastic challenge for us. I'm also expecting a great atmosphere on Thursday. Whichever team Mark Hughes puts out it will be full of internationals – and he has so many stars that some are bound to play. I know Mark and the club have their critics but good luck to them. I think Man City fans have really got the short straw over the years so why shouldn't they enjoy it now? And although the owner is from overseas he's backing his British manager and staff.
4. Thanks lads for aiding my Oval trip
The lads did me a favour yesterday. I had a ticket for the The Oval so I asked if they could come in early. They agreed to start at 9.30 instead of 10.30. I'm sure they'll use it against me at a later date but I'm very grateful. I feared the worst but it was a wonderful day's cricket for an Englishman. The atmosphere was incredible.
5. Enemies should beware my voodoo doll
A Palace fan living in the US has sent me a voodoo doll. He says it looks a bit like Sepp Blatter, so when I get angry about referees not having technology I should stick a pin in it instead of getting fined for talking out of turn. Good idea, and there's more. According to the instructions it works on anyone from whom I can get a strand of hair. So, to some of my not-so-close friends, be wary of me approaching with a pair of scissors.Reuse content