The SPAOTP Awards 2007 : Disappointment of the Season
There were several contenders for this award, but we've decided to give it to the brutal challenge made by Ben Thatcher (then of Manchester City) on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes back in August 2006.
For those that don't remember, Thatcher and Mendes were running for a loose ball during the 0-0 draw at the City of Manchester Stadium when Thatcher inexplicably elbowed Mendes in the face while running at full speed. Despite leaving the Portuguese international concussed (causing a seizure later) and needing oxygen treatment, Thatcher walked away from the incident claiming he hadn't done anything wrong.
A slow-motion replay of the incident proved he couldn't have been further from the truth. Ben Thatcher was given a yellow card while Pedro Mendes headed for an overnight stay in hospital.
Manchester City saw fit to ban him for six games while the FA instigated its own eight-game ban. Thatcher later sent a written apology to Mendes who, two weeks later, returned to the game under medical supervision.
We think it's despicable that one player should want to impart so much pain on a fellow professional. A bad tackle is one thing, but to leave another player needing hospital treatment is totally uncalled for. To see what amounts to a physical assault during a game of football is something no-one would ever want to witness. It was without question our low-point of the season - one that we hope is never repeated.