The Monday Profile: Michael Duberry
Picaresque wanderings that would impress Joseph Andrews himself define the career of Michael Duberry; one time Match of the Day super kid and now gracing the portals of the Kassam Stadium, following his arrival at Oxford United as a free agent earlier this week.
Having already turned out for Reading and Wycombe, “Dubes” has now set out his stall in each of the counties covered by the Thames Valley Police Force, but it’s an earlier brush with the law that internet sources often seem reluctant to comment upon at length.
Duberry unwittingly played the Astrid Proll role when Leeds’ team mates Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate needed a lift after a trip to the city’s Majestyk night club in the year 2000.
The ex-Middlesbrough defender was sentenced to a hundred hours community service while the South Londoner emerged as innocent of all charges after Sarfraz Najeib sustained injuries resultant from a street battle; with one of the sportsmen’s companions, Paul Clifford convicted of grievious bodily harm, and Neale Caveney afforded the same verdict as Woodgate. The Enfielder’s part in the trial swung controversially on his providing evidence for the prosecution. Although not present at the assault, he chose to contradict an initial statement; eventually taking the stand to testify what Woodgate had actually told him – that “they had just had a fight with some Asians.”
Football can be a scary community at times. That Duberry was subsequently vilified in certain quarters for having the courage to put justice before mateship was shameful, and interviews provided long after the fact still show how the affair has hung over him. We are unlikely to know the full force of the opprobrium directed towards Duberry from inside that Leeds dressing room, but the vitriolic chanting on the terraces has, in his own words, been “loud and clear”.
This is the real world remember. Not one where Tony Soprano will pay you a visit with a nine iron for telling someone where the drugs are hidden. “Snitch”, “grass”, “that’s one thing you never do” – all part of the “banter” of the round ball game and all long overdue a good binning. Duberry showed guts in telling the truth and that he refused to be hounded out of the sport and is still going at 35 is richly encouraging.
That it has affected his progress seems likely for even fans of clubs he joined after the event express reservations. Forced by Kevin Blackwell to train with the reserves at Elland Road, he achieved some equilibrium at Stoke before a Premier League swansong with the Royals. Finally, he has graced pastures north and south of the border, although his casual style – the very characteristic that first earned him attention at Chelsea – can undeniably lead to the odd mistake, Oxford – shaping up for a probable promotion push after some canny June acquisitions – will nonetheless benefit from his leadership.