I didn't really know what to expect for Saturday's legends match but I loved every minute of it. A smile beamed upon my face throughout and when I left the Macron for the last time until August I had this strange feeling wash over me, it was something that I hadn't felt for quite a long while: genuine love for my club.
Massive congrats and thank yous have to be given to the Supporters Trust, Community Trust and the team captains, they did brilliantly to put on the event and it was a real laugh and a lovely afternoon. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to them happening more often.
The game was a laugh and some what of a pallet cleanser for us all to get the sour taste of last season out of our mouths, so please don't take these ratings too seriously:
Jussi Jaaskelainen - 7
The returning Finn didn't have much to do during his time in-between the sticks, but him getting genuinely irked at John Bishop's incompetence was brilliant. He got a run out outfield and came SO BLOODY CLOSE to scoring, I was already cheering when the ball cannoned of the post, certain that it had gone in. Oh how amazing it would have been.
Scott Green - 7
It was a solid and dependable showing from the right back, who did really well to keep going forward and support the attack. It was his lovely cross that actually set up the opener.
Simon Charlton - 6
Was a very solid, no nonsense showing from the much love left back. He didn't pull up any trees or impress going forward, but was dependable and steady at the back. Well, apart from when he got in a foot race with Lee who left him in his wake.
Abdoulaye Faye - 8
The big man may not have had the mobility he used to posses, but he was still as a rock at the back. Was difficult for any of the Team Kelly attackers to get around and made a couple of crunching tackles and important blocks.
Mark Winstanley - 6
Jason McAteer - 8
There was nothing flashy about McAteer's performance, he just played in a professional manner and kept the ball ticking over nicely and provided the ball for the stars of the show to shine. Still has a golden touch and can ping a pass.
Jay Jay Okocha - 10
Easily the man of the match, it wasn't even really a contested. Jay Jay dazzled on his return to the Reebok, with bamboozling skill that had the crowd cheering with delight every time the ball landed at his feet. Not to mention he scored three fine goals to boot, sign him up!
John McGinlay - 7
Team captain McGinlay didn't spend too long on the pitch, but he certainly made an impact on it when he opened the scoring. An instinctive run to the back post and a textbook header just goes to show that you may lose the capability, but never the ability.
Alan Thompson - 6.5
Thompson was a winger back in the day, right? I mean, he was wearing #11 so I do presume so, which makes it weird that he played the vast majority of the game at centre back. There wasn't much formation or shape to the game (much to my uncontrollable frustration) but Thompson was definitely sitting right at the back for most of it. When he was there he looked alright, actually, and was constantly barking orders at his backline. His only error was trying a flick and giving the ball away for the sixth goal.
Danny Jones - 6.5
After seeing Bolton fan and McFly star Danny Jones impress at Soccer Aid a few years back I was expecting big things from the winger on Saturday. He didn't stand out quite as much as I was expecting but he put in a few decent crosses here and there.
Ivan Klasnić - 6.5
It was a delight seeing Ivan back at the Reebok, a place which, in hindsight, he shouldn't have been allowed to leave. The #17 goal machine looked sharp and in good shape and still has a great touch and awareness about him, it's just a shame he was a little wasteful in the box and couldn't get a goal on his return.
Will Jaaskelainen - 7
The young understudy, like his father before him, didn't have an awful lot to do. In fact. getting mowed down by De Freitas was probably his first action in the game. But he did look composed whenever he had to claim a cross or anything.
Sasa Curcic - LOL
I was really looking forward to seeing Curcic play because we all know he has the capability to do mental things, while not quite living up to that scale his brief cameo was certainly enjoyable. Curcic entered the fray, immediately got the ball and embarked on a mazy run, moving at a reasonable pace for a man of his ballooned size. He then got tackled, fairly, fell on his face and ended up showing his arse. The next time he got on the ball he fell over again, and then immediately took his leave and didn't return. Brilliant.
Fabrice Muamba - 8
Not much on Saturday was taken seriously, as it was all just a laugh, but Muamba's return to the Reebok pitch in a playing capacity was emotionally charged and got everyone on their feet. It was an incredible moment and one I'm very happy to have witnessed. I couldn't tell if his celebration after scoring the penalty was a joke or not, but from where I was sitting it looked like it met a whole lot to him. Playing wise, he was a little tentative at first, understandably. But he soon grew into the game and was putting himself about like he used to, gangly and uncontrollable, a sort of incoherent whirl wind that ended up doing good. He did really well to earn the penalty, showing a brief bit of a skill and an abundance in determination and he also made a fine sliding tackle on a clean through attacker that harked back to days of old. It was a joy seeing him out there again.
John Bishop - -1
Probably the only player on the pitch who was worse than Curcic but, to be fair, at least comedian John Bishop did manage to put in a shift. That, however, doesn't take away how laughably bad he was. I'm not trying to be mean, as I thank him a lot for taking the time to turn out for the game and he was hilarious on the pitch, but he was still bad. So bad that even Jussi got genuinely irked at him at one point. Was wonderful. He also beautifully gave the ball away which led to the equaliser.
John Thomas - 8
I hadn't heard of John Thomas before the game, but I'll have to look him up as he put in a great little showing. He was the one whose deft touch nearly set up Jussi to score, and he also scored a beautiful goal in which he deftly lobbed the onrushing keeper.
Both young McGinlays - 7
Both younger McGinlays looked good, but I don't know which one is which.
Keith Branagan - 5
'Ol Keith wasn't quite able to repeat his Wembley '95 heroics on Saturday, despite his best efforts. Not much he could do to stop a bullet McGinlay header and an Okocha screamer, but he may be disappointed with the third goal.
Julian Darby - 6
If I'm not mistaken Darby played the whole 90 and was getting up and down the pitch all game. Still fit as a fiddle.
Paddy McGuiness - 7
I was actually quite impressed with Paddy. He quietly plodded along, playing the whole 90 minutes, at right back and actually looked very solid. There was one occasion in which he had to clatter Danny Jones and earned a booking, but that momentary lapse aside he was rather dependable. He also, as he's known to do, provided a lot of funny moments.
Tony Kelly - 7
Zico didn't get much from open play but did come quite close with a venomous free kick, and actually had a totally legitimate goal of his own so hardly ruled out by a total jobsworth of a referee. In all seriousness he was absolutely hilarious and I love how much he loves this club, what a bloke. He certainly wasn't up for chasing any rolling balls though. Oh, he also set the sixth goal up, too.
Simon Coleman - 5
Was made to look silly by Okocha for the second goal as he sent him tumbling over, but otherwise put in a decent performance.
Alan Stubbs - 6
Despite being a shithouse who Hibbsed it again (haha) Stubbs put in a respectable showing, especially since his head must have been lingering on yet another massively disappointing defeat. Can certainly still a rake a 60 yard pass across the pitch, to be fair.
David Lee - 7
The wee man's still got it, ain't he? I genuinely think we could do worse than have him as an impact player next season, he's definitely better than Feeney. Although Lee can't shoot to save his life, he's a master at getting to by-line and knocking in a perfect cross, and he did just that for De Freitas' instant equaliser. Pace in abundance and some tricks of his own, Lee is an unreal player for a 48 year old.
Gavin McCann - 8
While watching the match it was easy to tell which of the players still kept them selves in shape, and Gav is certainly one of them. He was probably, just like in his playing days, the unsung hero of the match. He completed the whole 90 and looked like he could do 90 more. He patrolled the midfield like a general and didn't put a foot wrong with his passing.
Fabian de Freitas - 7
I was actually impressed with De Freitas, and the Wembley hero certainly looked up for it. He scored a bullet header immediately after McGinlay opened the scoring and looked like he wanted to add more, as he was constantly chasing lose balls and closing down defenders.
Dean Holdsworth - 7
Deano may not have the pace but he certainly he had the touch, and was actually quite smooth on the ball, as his early mazy run will testify to. He was tidy and often skilful on the ball and the crowd certainly appreciated his efforts.
Peter Reid - 6
For a man about turn 60 Reid was brilliant. Whenever he got the ball he was composed and played nice passes and he wasn't afraid to get in amongst it and challenge for headers.
Ritchie Branagan - 6
I really appreciate how much effort Branagan junior put in to be a kill joy and not let the narrative come in front of the football. That is the attitude of a winner. Of a champion. He desperately got a hand on Muamba's shot to deny a brilliant goal, he saved Muamba's first penalty and, even though it hit the post, tried so hard to make sure Jussi did not score against him. What a hero. He also pulled off the save of the game too, when he got a strong hand onto a powerful, bending drive.
Richard Sneekes - 6
The long haired wonder was good on the ball, until it came to passing it when the only thing he could really muster was a five yard side rule or smashing it up to no one. Worked hard and put himself about though. Played one nice through ball ton Lee, which the winger should have done better with.
Stuart Whitaker - 6
Looked alright in the brief time he was on the pitch.
Kevin Cooper - 6
A couple of nice passes and tackles, didn't look out of place.
Sam Stubbs - 8
You could tell this lad was younger than the rest, as his energy and pace was no match to a lot of the ageing legs out on the field. He scored one lovely goal and probably should have had more, got a nice touch.