Players in Scotland have been given the most severe penalty possible, sine die, and in every instance only the extent of the punishment has led to controversy.
Players in Scotland have been given the most severe penalty possible, sine die, and in every instance only the extent of the punishment has led to controversy .
There has never, to my knowledge, been a player who was banned in this manner who did not deserve some heavy punishment and never one who had not been warned by the disciplinary committee on his previous appearance before them what would be the dire result of further serious misconduct.
The most unfair punishment ever meted out by the referee committee of the Scottish Football Association, however, was to a Celtic player, George Paterson. Many older Celtic supporters will remember the match which led to Patetson being suspended for three months, to two other Celtic players being suspended, and the club fined £60 and ordered to post warning bills at Celtic Park for six months. Many of the younger Celtic followers will, I feel sure, be more than a little interested in the story.
Even the older ones who know something about it cannot have heard of some of the things that went on behind the scenes.
The occasion was a Victory Cup semi-hnal match with Rangers at Hampden in June, 1946; it was a replay, the first match having ended in a 1-1 draw. Reference has been made earlier in these pages to good teams making their own breaks.
If that is true-and I am strongly of the opinion that in most uses it is true-it must follow that teams less than good are not very often able to make the breaks for themselves. Well, Celtic were not a good team at this time, though they had some good players.
Luck certainly was not on their side in that first half of the Victory Cup semi-fmal replay. What is just as certain is that there was nothing they could have done about it.
The dice were really loaded against them from the start. Perhaps even a much better team than that Celtic side could not have changed the way the breaks were going.
Our outside-right, Jimmy Sirrel, who by the way is at present manager of Notts County, was injured in the first half and so too was our centIe-forward Jackie Gallacher.
But more ominous in my view was the strange interpretation of the rules by the referee, M. C. Dale, of Glasgow.
George Paterson was spoken to twice before half time for disputing decisions and while I feel strongly that in most cases players should not show dissent and that rarely do they make a referee change his mind when they do I had some sympathy with Paterson, who was our captain that evening.
When Paterson told me at half time that he and his team-mates were convinced that the referee was not in the best of condition to be in charge of a matchI shall put it no more pointedly than that-I asked the secretary of the Scottish Football Association, Mr. George Graham, to find out if the Celtic players’ complaint was justified but he could not see his way to making the inquiry.
Early in the second half Gallacher, injured again, had to be taken off on a stretcher and Sirrel was limping badly on the right wing. Rangers were leading 1-0; it seemed long odds against us retrieving the situation. Then came real trouble for us.
Rangers were awarded a penalty-kick and again our frustrated players protested vehemently. Jimmy Malian, one of our full-backs, was ordered off after kicking the ball from the penalty spot, and when Paterson made further protest he was sent packing too.
George Young scored with the penaltykick and the match had hardly restarted when two spectators came on to the pitch from the Celtic supporters end of the ground and made for the referee, their intentions far from peaceable. In fact I distinctly remember one of them throwing a missile of some kind at the official which fortunately missed the target.
The shocks for Celtic were far from finished. Paterson and Mallan automatically appeared before the referee committee. Also ordered to appear was Matt Lynch, our righthalf, who hadn’t even been spoken to by the referee during the match or afterwards. Lynch was astonished when he learned that he had been reported.
He immediately informed the manager and myself that during the stramash in our penalty area in which some of our players were protesting about the penalty decision he had been standing fully 30 yards away along with Rangers’ inside left, Jimmy Duncanson. Lynch said he had remarked to the Rangers’ player that as he had been in trouble with referees before he was not getting involved in this matter and was keeping out of the danger area...
This was Lynch’s defence against the accusation that he had been involved and Jimmy Duncanson vouched for him by letter.
But the committee would have none of it. Paterson and Mallan (who had previously been dealt with for misconduct) were suspended for three months, the suspensions to operate from the start of the next season. Lynch, Who hadn’t even been cautioned during the game, was given a month’s suspension.
The cruelty of Paterson’s sentence was shattering to both player and club. He had used unparliarnentary language to the referee, making a remark after Mallan had been dismissed from the field to the effect that the oHicial should perform a very diliicult operation With the ball.
What horrified all of us at Celtic Park was that Paterson, a man of most temperate language, had never in a career of II years been sent off or asked to appear before the disciplinary committee.
We were forced to the conclusion that he was punished as he was for one of two reasons-(I) he was adjudged to have provoked the misconduct of some of the spectators; (2) he had annoyed some one or other by making allegations against the Referee at half time. Maybe both reasons applied.
Perhaps, an the other hand, some one or other was having a go at Celtic-the fact that Paterson suffered dreadfully was raw deal. One newspaper had this ridiculous comment to make:--
“Rangers as well as Celtic should bear in mind the intention of the S.F.A. committee in passing the sentences they have. The clubs have even more responsibility than the players . . .”
All this under the heading-“Lesson to Rangers as well as to Celtic”. Maybe memory fails me, but I don’t remember Rangers being annoyed at the miscarriage of justice they sutfered. If the committee intended people to think that they would have handed out similar punishment to Rangers’ players and the Rangers’ club in comparable circumstances they did not convince a single Celtic supporter. The “lesson” the newspaper talked about was something that Celtic had no option but absorb. The “lesson" so far as Rangers were concerned was not compulsory.
Rangers’ players had committed no offence in the match. Admittedly they had been given the “breaks” but that was no fault of them; The conclusion that on some mysterious way they were being warned in the same manner as Celtic could have been reached only by those who practised the age-old balancing act. Never, in other words, go completely all out on one side or the other where Celtic and Rangers are concerned. Even if you should be taking one line strongly, add a rider to the effect that one is as bad as the other.
Celtic’s officials and players of the time were unanimous that the club and their players, Paterson in particular, had been punished with a lot of malice behind the findings. It was not the only instance of Celtic having a well justified grievance against the rulers of the game.
Three years later came one of the great balancing acts ever performed by a disciplinary committee. In fact I would say that for sheer evasion of an issue in which Celtic and Rangers were concerned the decisions of the SFA,, referee committee of season 1949-50 beat any other I have known.
The Cox-Tully case of the autumn of 1949 received a great deal of attention from the press: I do not think I am being anything but fair when I say that Celtic have not often been favourites of the press in general ..I would go so far as to say that in my time in football the press with a few exceptions, have been very much kinder to Rangers than to Celtic. In recent years the balance has swung, but then how could the newspapers have done anything other than praise a consistently successful club, one that has done more for Scotland’s prestige in the football world than any other?
So when I draw attention to the fact that the press as a whole were on the side of Celtic in the Cox-Tully case you will understand how badly Celtic were treated by the SEA.
The case resulted from an incident during a League Cup match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox in the first month of the 1949-50 season. After half an hour’s play Charlie Tully our Irish Internationalist forward, had been challenged near the bye-line at Rangers’ end by Sammy Cox, Rangers’ Scottish Internationalist wing-half. This is what followed, as I recall it;
Cox, in control of the situation, in that he was jockeying the ball in the hope of gaining a goal-kick suddenly left the ball and swung a boot at Tully; This happened in the penalty area at the end of the ground where the bulk of the Celtic supporters were gathered. Tully went down and rolled in apparent agony. To the consternation of his team-mates and to many of the 95,000 spectators the referee distinctly signalled for play to carry on ,, in other words he indicated that he had seen no infringement. The referee, Mr. A. B. Gebbie, was no more than 20 yards from the two players; there was no question of one or other having done anything behind his back.
When some of the Celtic followers realised that not only was no penalty-kick going to be given but that Cox was going to suffer no punishment ,, bedlam broke loose. A hooligan element threw bottles towards the pitch and succeeded only in injuring some innocent spectators down the terracing in front of them and indeed Celtic supporters.
Prompt action by the police prevented a worse scene. Tully received attention from our trainer for several minutes and at half time the marks of injury were clearly seen high up on a leg.
One newspaper described the crowd misbehaviour in these words -“The spark that led to the terracing trouble was the fact that NOTHING was done by the referee when Cox kicked Tully.”
There never is an excuse for such misconduct as some of the Celtic followers indulged in that day, but there was a reason ,, which that newspaper writer summed up concisely and correctly. It was infuriating for all of us when early in the second half Cox and Tully were booked for what was no more than a mild physical joust.
A point about the crowd scene is that only one arrest was made. As a matter of fact only two arrests were made in the ground that Saturday afternoon. But no one could minimise the terrible danger there had been to spectators, particularly children, when the bottles flew.
In due course the S.F.A. referee committee met, having received letters from the Glasgow magistrates and the Chief Constable. They held court for three and a half hours and had before them Cox and Tully, the referee and both of his linesmen, and representatives of both clubs, one of whom was myself.
The committee’s findings, which in due course were approved by the council of the S.F.A.--that is to say by representatives of all grades of football in the country would have been laughable if the position had not been serious.
Satisfied that the rowdyism on the terracing was created by “the actions of two players, S. Cox and C. Tully, and an error on the part of the referee” the committee made an astonishingly good job of sharing out the punishment. They unanimously decided that : both clubs should post warning notices at their grounds
whenever they met; both clubs should have notices in their dressing-rooms drawing the players’ attention to their responsibility and advising them of the S.F.A.’s determination to deal severely with misconduct; admission should be refused to those carrying flags,
No one up to now had been treated any differently from anyone else. And so it continued. To the amazement of Celtic and undoubtedly the pleased astonishment of Rangers both players were severely reprimanded, their behaviour to be recorded for future reference as an offence. The referee because of his previous good record had no action taken against him, though he was informed that his failure to take appropriate action could have precipitated a more serious situation.
A final piece of shilly-shallying was a request to the Scottish League to consider appointing for Celtic-Rangers games referees from another British association or to discontinue the practice of ballotting for referees and to appoint them by other methods.
Could you imagine a better example of a committee trying to make sure that no one could accuse them of favouring one club or the other? Or do you think that in trying to play safe or sit on the fence they merely succeeded in showing their true colours? In one respect they must have thought they were successful, for the council voted 20-5 to adopt their findings! Celtic made a request -and repeated it -- for an inquiry to be held into the case. It was fruitless.
The chairman of the referee committee had had this to say. “The committee’s opinion is that Tully had simulated any slight injury he might have received and that his actions may have been as blameworthy as an admitted indiscretion by Cox.”
It takes a peculiar mentality to think along those lines. What did not seem to count for much if anything was that Tully had made no admission of having committed an offence of any kind-and no one had seen him commit one. Cox, on the other hand, had confessed his guilt, as the committee had noted with their reference to “admitted indiscretion”. Nor had Tully provoked Cox with talking, as some who had seen the field incident had guessed, for the Rangers’ player made no such defence.
One sports writer said in his column --“The spectators saw Cox’s action. If Tully provoked that action in a manner not apparent to the crowd, why have the referee committee not made public his share in the incident? . . . It would appear that they consider the blame must be equally shared, irrespective of the facts . . . Their decisions are a shirking of a straightforward duty”.
Perhaps the remark of one of the S.F.A. office bearers who had sat in on the referee committee meeting and had heard the various witnesses and statements was the most illuminating of all. Said he when he was questioned about the apparent unfairness of Tully having been punished in the same manner as Cox:--“Well, at least Cox was honest; he admitted kicking the other fellow. But Tully wasn’t honest; he said he had been kicked in the private parts, though his trainer said he had been kicked on the thigh”!
Thus Tully was a liar for 2 inch or two, according to one who sat in judgment on him. The fact that there was no doubt Cox had kicked him was evidently not so important as where he had kicked him.
Charlie was not only kicked, but he was hurt -- i had no doubt of that. Not many people knew how easily be bruised; I have never known a player with so tender a skin. Those who thought that he play-acted in the incident with Cox were wrong. Those who said that he had simulated injury were not only wrong but were malicious in saying so.
Tully was not always the player sinned against, of course. A man of his style of dribbling is always liable to suffer rough tackling, and there is no doubt that in his time he got more than his share of that. But he was often guilty of showing his dissent and referees not surprisingly were on the look-out for him.
I remember once sending for him after a match at Parkhead in which he had been booked for talking. This time I was displeased more than usually. I had read that very morning an article by Charlie in a morning newspaper in which he said (or had said for him) that he had learned his lesson about arguing with referees and that he would keep out of that kind of trouble in future.
“You don’t take long to break your promises,” I said, and as I spoke I had the feeling he didn’t know what I was talking about. I was right. He replied -“What do you mean, Mr. Chairman?” I went into details. “I read only this morning that you weren’t going to get involved with referees any more,” I said, “and yet this afternoon you get booked-and deserved to get booked.” Whereupon with a suggestion of a smile the bold bhoy said -“I wish that fellow (and he named the writer who ghosted for him) had told me he was going to write that.”
By Sir Robert Kelly -from his book Celtic
Posted by voc1967 on Saturday 21 September 2019 - 14:23:05 | Comments (1) |
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