I've heard about Rory Delap's throw-ins for some time, but on Saturday I got to see a few close up, and they were amazing.
I always wondered why they caused so much havoc - Ok, so he does long throws?! Big deal - I've seen some of the Bolton lads do that.
No, no, no - it's not that Delap's throws are long - it's more that the ball fizzes flat and fast, almost directly at the goal like a Smart Bomb. The ball starts at an altitude of seven feet and it stays there for about 40 yards just begging for a deflection or a knockdown. The pace is a real shock - as fast as a sweetly struck corner.
The really clever bit is that you can't be offside from a throw-in, so Stoke City can pack the penalty area with all their big lads (and they are all big lads), so absolute mayhem is absolutely guaranteed.
Some managers say that these throws should not be allowed, usually after they have been on the receiving end. I don't see how you could phrase a rule to stop it without going to the extreme suggested by Arsene Wenger - replace all "throws ins" with "kick ins".
Nope, Delap's throws are as much a part of the beautiful game as Ronaldo's dribbling, Drogba's marksmanship and Rooney's excuses. Delap is a unique athlete and it was a joy to watch him work. An even bigger joy though was that Bolton won - with the deciding goal coming from a Bolton long-throw ...