James thirds dumped out in controversial circumstances

Alcuin seconds look set to push Wentworth firsts all the way for the runners-up spot in Group A, but their 3-0 win against James thirds on Thursday was earned with the aid of some dubious refereeing

Photograph by Maggie Aslet

Photograph by Maggie Aslet

This game is featured in the latest edition of the Nouse Sports Podcast.


The College Cup dreams of James thirds died in controversial circumstances on the Astroturf this afternoon. Alcuin seconds inflicted a third consecutive 3-0 defeat, but benefited from some poor refereeing decisions for their second and third goals as the game was stolen away from their dogged opponents.

The post-match chatter was sprinkled with words along the lines of ‘farce,’ ‘travesty’ and others which can’t be published here after Will Taylor, the Alcuin left-sided player, clearly handballed in the build-up to their second goal, the ball bundled in by Thomas Gibby at the back post. To compound their misery, the third goal – the last kick of the game – was also contentious. Paul Desoisa, Alcuin’s Man of the Match, hammered the ball into the top right-hand corner but goalkeeper Toby Owen had clearly been fouled in the process of retrieving the ball after a penalty area scramble.

Until these two tournament-defining moments which, sadly, have brought the standard of College Cup officiating into sharp focus once more, James had contained their opponents and even crafted a few opportunities of their own – notably when David Ambrozejczyk tipped Jack Fisher’s shot-on-the-spin over the crossbar. Their resolve had not been broken even when Matthew Lang finished neatly at the near post shortly after half-time for Alcuin’s opening goal.

The first period was even and goalless; the initial pressure came from Alcuin, who were hoping for the perfect riposte following their opening day loss to Goodricke firsts, as Taylor latched on to Desoisa’s sliderule pass and outpaced George Clarke only to blaze into the side-netting. At the other end, on their first break forward, Ambrozejczyk got his positioning spot on to deny Arran Bowen-la Grange’s header at the back post, after Andy Yates had produced a perfect floated free-kick.


Alcuin’s Paul Desoisa scored the third goal in the last minute, sealing his team’s first win in the competition. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.

Alcuin ended the half the stronger, though a breakthrough wasn’t forthcoming. Damian Pickard, the captain, forced a block from Owen with a 35-yard free-kick and Brown was unable to turn in the rebound from close range. Huw Harrow headed the ball away off the line following another testing set-piece, Simon Reiss slashing the follow-up over the crossbar. Just before the interval, Brown was released by a calamitous Nick St. George mis-kick but, under pressure from two covering defenders, fluffed his lines and sent the ball high over Owen’s net.

Starting the second-half, James would have been hopeful of picking up their first points of the tournament, an optimism fuelled when an intelligent quickly-taken throw-in from Yates set Fisher free, only for the midfielder to connect meekly and send his effort into the goalkeeper’s hands.

They were punished severely just a couple of minutes later as Lang ghosted forward from left-back to open the scoring. Conscious that their hopes of Plate qualification were hanging by a thread, James assumed an attacking licence, introducing Adam Tzimas in place of Yates and urging the tall Nathan McCusker forward at every set-piece. Tzimas almost made an impact, but Ambrozejczyk clutched his daisy-cutter from the edge of the box.


Alcuin Will Taylor protests his innocence despite what looked like a clear handball in the build-up to his team’s second goal. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.

Devoting all their energies towards gaining a surprise equaliser, it was cruel that James were crushed by a moment of controversy. Taylor had broke free of his marker but obviously moved the ball on with his lower arm, something to which the referee, located some distance away, turned a blind eye. Taylor reached the byline before squaring across goal, leaving Gibby with a tap-in. The protestations of the James players left the official in no doubt he had made a mistake, but the goal stood and the team started to wilt in the face of a two-goal deficit.

Owen dived at the feet of Brown to prevent a third but Alcuin wouldn’t be denied and, in the dying moments, the James goalkeeper was robbed of the ball – despite appearing to have both hands on it – and Desoisa capitalised with aplomb.

James have shown terrific fighting spirit in all three of their matches but join the heap of College Cup teams for whom pluckiness is just not enough, although they can feel aggrieved here. Alcuin remain very much in with a shout of beating Wentworth firsts to second position in Group A and will continue their quest against Derwent seconds next Friday.


David Ambrozejczyk, the Alcuin goalkeeper, scrambles across to keep out Arran Bowen-la Grange’s back post header. Photograph by Maggie Aslet.

Alcuin Seconds: David Ambrozejczyk, Simon Reiss, Bradley Wood, Jonathan Lane, Matthew Lang, Will Taylor, Damian Pickard, Gavin Hesketh, Thomas Gibby, Paul Desoisa, Alex Brown

Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Paul Desoisa

James Thirds: Toby Owen, Ben Li (Ruari Phillips), Nick St. George, Nathan McCusker, George Clarke, Dave Williams, Arran Bowen-la Grange, Jack Fisher, Huw Harrow, Andy Yates (Adam Tzimas), Tim Green

Nouse Fantasy Football Man of the Match: Toby Owen


  1. I wish I could take defeat as gracefully as James Thirds. x

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  2. 27 May ’10 at 8:06 pm

    Economics Student II

    You get the impression that the guy was forced into refereeing the game. He showed no interest with keeping up with play which is probably why he made so many bad decisions, with the worst ones falling onto James. He was also relucatant to apply the rules of the game, both sides had free-kicks where the walls had nowhere near retreated 10 yards and even when asked to, he didn’t measure out the walls. He was so quiet it took almost minutes for people to decipher what his actual decsion was. This guy was entirely the wrong person to ask to referee a game which makes you wonder who decided to put him forward. It was my understanding that each college team also has to provide a referee for some games so what team put this person forward?

    That being said, suggestions that James were robbed ignores the fact that they scored no goals and at the very least Alcuin scored one legitimate one. James can only be dissapointed that the referee made the scoreline suggest a rout whereas the reality was a plucky display against overall a better team.

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  3. 27 May ’10 at 8:12 pm

    Thierry Henry

    I though the handball was disgraceful and Alcuin, like me, and any other college team should have owned up.

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  4. 27 May ’10 at 8:19 pm

    Vanbrugh 3s Captain

    This is such a non-event that I can’t believe we’re even talking about it, nor having an article completely based on it (which surprises me from you, Adam). The only reason I comment on this is because of the ridiculous flak that one of my players is taking.

    Until we get Refsoc, or anyone who accepts payment for refereeing these games, I feel like no one ought to be having a go at referees.

    I asked the lad to referee the game today as it was supposed to be me, but as I have an exam tomorrow morning I thought I ought to prioritise.

    “This guy was entirely the wrong person to ask to referee a game which makes you wonder who decided to put him forward.” – you make it sound like everyone is falling over themselves to referee these matches, especially with the potential vilification that awaits if you make a decision that people don’t agree with.

    Ben (James 3rds Captain) refereed our game against Derwent 1sts on Monday and in my opinion had a bit of a ‘mare. We only lost the game 1-0 (the goal they scored coming after a clear foul on, somewhat ironically, the lad who refereed today). I didn’t make a big deal on Ben’s performance because he’s not, nor claims to be, a referee.

    Everyone ought to be grateful that anyone turns up to referee. I can’t imagine they’ll be many more willing to have a go when they have articles like this written about them.

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  5. After reading this heart-breaking article, I’ve decided to hang up my loaned whistle and retire from refereeing, despite it being one of my passions.

    Refereeing in the cup has been shocking throughout, I just happened to set a new low in a game that would have been 1 or 2-0 instead of 3-0 if I’d not genuinely missed these blatant incidents. The only outcome that it’s had any impact on is the Fantasy League and, unfortunately, my dazzling refereeing career.

    I apologize to both sides for the decisions that I made incorrectly throughout the game, and understand the frustration, being a player myself. Those of you who have had the fortune of refereeing in other games will know it’s not the easiest of tasks, especially when you’re doing it as a favour. It’s not like I begged to get the chance to make a tit of myself in front of 30+ of my peers, I do that regularly enough as a player. I’d never refereed before (shock-horror) and won’t be refereeing again (sigh of relief for everyone). Much love x

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  6. 27 May ’10 at 9:56 pm

    Pierluigi Collina

    To put it mildly, the referee’s performance left a lot to be desired today. However i wouldn’t go overboard on the criticism as this will not be the first time nor the last time that a college game is reffed by someone who clearly couldn’t care less, and to be fair it is an unenviable task.

    What is more disappointing is that Alcuin 2s felt the need to cheat in order to win the game. Although the game was in the balance at 1-0, they should have still been able to hold on and win against a 3rds team without having to claim goals that resulted from clear fouls. If the Alcuin captain or any of the players involved in the incidents could have been man enough to admit their offences none of this would be an issue. Instead they have come out of this looking rather pathetic.

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  7. Giving it the big one under the moniker of Collina. Big man/woman. x

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  8. 27 May ’10 at 10:11 pm

    James 3s Captain

    Firstly, appologies to Vanbrugh 3s if i had a ‘mare,’ i gave everything as i saw it and with the generally apparent poor reffereeing in the cup i don’t feel i had a bad game. The lad today clearly didn’t have a good game reffing, but just as the Vanbrugh Captain said, he his not, nor am i a referee. Although maybe asking someone else more suitable for reffing would have been better i completely understand that people aren’t queuing up to ref.

    Every team is asked to provide a ref for some of the matches but i think it would be all round better and easier if some way two players could be linesmen. There was a blatant hand ball today and if the ref missed it, a lino would have seen it. Bringing in linesmen would also put less responsibility on the ref especially for offsides (of which Alcuins 3rd goal was about 5 yards off).

    The lad who hand balled it today should have owned up but in all honestly i didn’t expect him to, especially in what in fairness was a much tighter game than the scorline lends itself to. Maybe had Alcuin already been 3-0 up it would have been different.

    We feel hard done by today by a really poor ref but putting him as a ref is like asking Nick St. George to make a decent clearance.

    Well played though Alcuin

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  9. 27 May ’10 at 10:22 pm

    Barry Venison

    I don’t think you’re ever going to get two linesmen if referees are hard to come by at the moment, especially the amount of abuse they get by all.

    Your idea about two players doing the line would be even more problematic, especially doing offsides as well. They’re never going to be honest and every 50/50 will go in favour of their own team.

    The college cup incorporates a lot of players of differing abilities, and when refs are giving up their time, there’s going to be poor and good refs. I think that players are just going to have to get used to it, especially in the group stages, as this isn’t going to change.

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  10. 27 May ’10 at 10:24 pm

    Economics Student II

    I do have sympathy for the guy being thrown in today. I am under no illusions that the majority of people don’t want to referee but I do feel captains have to make some effort to try and get the most suitable people for the job. The problem for the lad today was that he was in a sink or swim position and i personally felt rather than him being simply wrong, he didn’t give himself the best chance to get things right.

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  11. 27 May ’10 at 10:32 pm

    Calamitous Centre Back

    If the guy that wrote the post apologising about his performance is actually the ref then fair play to him because, whilst he did have an absolute shocker, all you can do is accept that. (also sorry about absolutely laying in to you at the end)

    After this torrent of abuse I’ve decided to quit 3s football as I believe I am undervalued by my captain. I will continue to dwindle in the doldrums starting for the 2s and hopefully, with time, I will be of the calibre required to pull on the shirt for Ben Li’s Black and White army.

    I apologise for my ineptitude and am deeply sorry that you will be without my great banter.


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  12. I’d imagine there’s as much chance of that being the real ref than those other comments being from Pierluigi Collina and Barry Venison…

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  13. Admittedly reffin a game of football is a hard job to do and even harder to do well and many say we should be grateful that someone was willing to give up their time to ref the game today but quite frankly standing on the half way line for 60 minutes waiting for the first person on the pitch to shout which way the throw in or free kick should be given and then agreeing is completely pointless and there may as well have been no ref. Furthermore the understanding of the basic league rules of no sliding on the astro come into play and to be fair the ref may not have known this (even though he has been playing in the competition) and it is clearly the person’s responsibility who assigned him the job to let him know the rules before throwing him into a game like today.

    I also understand alcuin wanted to secure the victory today because at 1-0 it was tight and could of gone either way but to for a blatant hand ball i would expect someone with a bit of respect not only for the match but for the tournament as whole to have had some dignity and been honest with the ref. But what do you do, game gone lets just hope things improve as the cup continues and football is played as it should be.

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  14. At least something good has come out of this, that calamitous centre back is gone for at least now, until he steps his game up a notch or two.

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  15. Simple fact is that nobody expects a top ref; folks are giving their time up and that should count for something.

    However, I am not sure why someone would give their time up to simply stand on the half-way line. All players should have a reasonable knowledge of the game and that, coupled with a reasonable attempt to keep up with play, will allways add soemthing to the game.

    The lad today just didn’t do that, he didn’t run once. Even if he gets decisions wrong, by being in a credible position – i.e. within 20 yards of the ball, he is able to sell the decision or at least retain some element of authority.

    You don’t have to be a qualified ref to manage that. I reckon that one of the better performances in the middle came from Chris Grayland last week. He kept up with play, took no shit, admitted when he wasn’t sure, and commanded the game despite not having a whistle. It doesn’t take much, but running rather than walking is a must.

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  16. It is genuinely the “ref” from today. I’m fully aware that you can’t slide on astro turf, I just genuinely didn’t believe it was a sliding challenge. It certainly wasn’t dangerous, and from my tactical half-way line position looked like more of a slip.

    I think neutral linesmen would be great too, but as we’re already scraping the barrel to get refs “that may as well not even be there”, it’s a bit of an ambitious dream.

    To Nick St. George: Your verbal abuse was more than justified it would seem. Apologies, and thanks for not having me lynched.

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  17. Collina, you really need to post under a real name to be taken seriously, it’s quite pathetic really. Secondly, to call Alcuin cheats is a little over the mark. If you were watching the game, both sides were guilty of some unsporting behaviour – to name but one very obvious example – Adam Tzimas tried claiming a corner near the end of the game when it had clearly come off him – the ref gave the corner even though it was apparent that it was GK, he reluctantly but sportingly gave the ball to me for goal kick after I’d bent his ear for it. It was, however, a minor incident in context of what this article suggests, but it is still in the same vein to what Will Taylor did.

    I’m not denying that it wasn’t handball, but put yourself in the shoes of a James left winger. If he is through on goal with a chance to win it or equalise and he handles it, would he really have held his hands up to stop the play, or would have the James support been calling for a James handball? Maybe if it was the other way round it might be some of our players flooding this article. The referee should have blown his whistle and it should have been a free kick to James, but like we have all been told since we were kids, you play to the whistle and it’s difficult to dispute that. Anyone, whether James or Alcuin, would have played on in that situation and not have done anything different under the same pressures, so the abuse he is getting surely cannot be fully justified.

    I’m also struggling to see how Alcuin needed decisions to win the game. Up until the first goal, the game was in the balance. From then on it was anything but, with the exception of Jack Fisher strike about ten minutes from time and a half chance or two from free kick. James did not have any real clear chances after the first goal apart form the above mentioned. For the final period of the game it was my counterpart Toby Ford who kept James in it (which surely has to suggest something) – he made some top class saves and deserved his MOM award.

    To the referee, as I was personally out of line in some of the abuse given in your direction when I was on the pitch, it would be unfair to give you more stick here. Holding your hands up and saying that you made a few wrong calls is very commendable indeed, so I apologize on my behalf.

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  18. Can you apologise on your own behalf?

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  19. Ambro – No mention for the great moment when you made a good save tipping a shot over the bar and lapped up the praise of your team, before turning round to lambast the ref, claiming a goal kick?!

    I’ve already had my say about this on this week’s podcast so I won’t go in to great detail, but I think it would perhaps have been a good gesture if Alcuin had let us score directly from the kickoff. Though on reflection, I appreciate that would be a big call to make in the heat of the moment.

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  20. Like I metioned above, I’m not going to give the ref anymore stick. I said that quote as a way of making my frustrations apparent to him, as at the time some of the decisions being given (for both teams) were ridiculous.

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  21. These comments are class.

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  22. regardless of how poor the referee was, he didnt deserve to be abused by the james left back. calling him a “fucking joke” to his face as well as slagging him off at any decision is WAY over the line.

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  23. from a neutral it was obvious the ref got 2 major calls wrong and plenty of minor ones too. to suggest it accounted solely for alcuin winning though is rubbish. as they were 1-0 up already.
    also he might have had a bad game but some of the behaviour of the james lads was completely over the top, some of the language at the ref was excessive and idiotic. i recall one lad from james, i think he had “li” on the back of his shirt running on the pitch solely to shout abuse at the ref, and another portly lad went right in the ref’s face and sarcastically applauded him. James don’t deserve anything from the college cup with behaviour like this. yeh he got some calls wrong, get over it lads. don’t resort to that.
    what would real james BNOCs like alex collins make of this, god only knows….

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  24. 28 May ’10 at 1:28 pm

    James 3s Captain

    My players as well as the alcuin players have apologised here to the ref. In the moments in the game all the players got annoyed, you saying that they’ve gone way over the line is needless. I’ve got to defend my players here and you know as well as i do that it won’t be the last time players swear or go over the top at a ref in the cup. I respect the ref for coming out and apologising. I hope this put the issue to bed now cos u slagging my players off is needless.

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  25. 28 May ’10 at 1:43 pm

    James 3s Captain

    Andy, I am the lad who had “Li” on his back, as captain i ran on the pitch to tell my players who were shouting at the ref to leave it and get on with the game. I then asked the referee admittedly in a harsh tone just to keep up with play at bit more. Also, alex collins would back me up on this.

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  26. As eluded to by the Vanbrugh captain earlier in these comments, the James captain didn’t ought to be telling anyone how to referee a football match. I watched the Derwent 1s vs. Vanbrugh 3s game and his performance was utterly appalling. Saying that you “gave everything the way you saw it” is a complete embarrassment because, if true, you don’t know the rules of the game.

    The Vanbrugh skipper was injured for that game, and whilst he was clearly frustrated by the performance you gave in the middle (which ultimately cost his team as much as the referee in question cost yours yesterday), I watched him at the final whistle go to his own players pat them on the back etc. and then go straight to you and shake your hand.

    If only you could be as graceful in defeat as he was on Monday.

    Yates (I assume your talking about him as the portly fella) should have been booked for the sarcastic applause (I bet you’re not complaining about the ref not doing that).

    James’ attitude during and after the game has been little short of atrocious and you deserve absolutely no sympathy for the way you’ve handled yourselves.

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  27. From the sidelines it it becoming more and more obvious that the referees in the college cup have very little interest in keeping up with play

    Every referee i have seen so far, with the odd exception has been content to amble around the middle or the pitch and i’ve yet to see one ref break into a jog

    The job of refereeing is hard enough without trying to make decisions from 40 yards away

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  28. I thought the referee had a decent game in his defence.

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  29. The referee set his stall out early doors and never budged from that. He was consistent all game. Give the lad a break, he did well in my opinion.

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  30. 28 May ’10 at 6:03 pm

    James 3s Captain

    Derwenter.. At no point did i say i could ref a football match. As a captain i had to do it and like the lad who reffed our game, i did the best i could. I have already apologised to Vanburgh for getting whatever decisions i got wrong. We were annoyed at the time but in hindsight we know it means fuck all. My players and I have appologised to the ref, as i have already said and this hatred from people who won’t even put their real names is needless.

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  31. Derwenter – to suggest our attitude following the game has been ‘atrocious’ is complete bollocks. No comments on this article from our boys have been hostile or aggressive; if anything they have been quite the opposite – everybody has agreed that the ref had a bit of a shocker but we’re not on here berating him, and a number of the lads have apologised to the ref for the abuse we gave him – I think Huw’s contribution to the podcast sums up our feelings perfectly really (http://www.nouse.co.uk/2010/05/28/the-nouse-sports-podcast-9/).

    Admittedly, during the game we were far from subtle in our protestations, but put yourself in our shoes – we’re 1-0 down in the match we probably have the best chance to win out of all our group games, creating chances (Ambro has pulled off a couple of top-class saves that on another day, or with a different keeper, may well have ended up in the back of the net) and then suddenly we concede a goal that should never have been allowed to stand.

    What would you do? Just say ‘oh well’ and get on with game? Of course not. What sort of a team would we be if we hadn’t been outraged at the decisions?! We didn’t come into this tournament bent over asking to be f**ked in the arse, we came to compete and these sorts of incidents are pretty hard to take (pun very much intended) in the heat of the moment!

    Ambro – I completely agree that had it been one of our lads who’d committed the handball we probably would have done exactly the same thing as your Alcuin side did, but I’m really not sure any of us have the audacity to actually attempt such a blatent ‘Thierry’. I think the lad himself feels pretty guilty about doing it; it completely killed the game and that is the biggest shame, because up until that point it had been a pretty entertaining affair.

    This debate could rage on for eternity but I think everything has pretty much been said on the matter now; our lads have apologised for any aggressive behaviour towards the ref and there’s really no need to continue slating us, especially our captain who if anything has acted with more maturity than any of us.

    Kiss my face.x

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  32. no one cares

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  33. 33 comments would suggest otherwise…

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  34. 28 May ’10 at 9:26 pm

    'Stand still'

    Pickard is an absolute warrior. Playing on with a dead leg to help his boys secure a 3-0 victory is notihng short of heroic.

    He wins the Alcuin ‘William Wallace’ Award for bravery.

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  35. *no one cares except bitter James reserve players. Move on.

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  36. and myles preston apparently…with his standard futsal-based bant

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  37. no one cares….

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