History repeats itself with referee dispute
Published at 09:06, Monday, 05 March 2012
THE furore surrounding the performance of the referee at the abandoned Tynedale Rugby Club Veterans v North Shields cup tie is nothing new.
For Tynedale have previous when it comes to falling out with officials.
On one occasion, it was only the efforts of visitors and the police which prevented a referee being picked up by angry Tynedale fans and thrown into the Tyne.
The official in question was William Cail, who went on to become president of the Rugby Football Union itself at national level.
Mr Cail told the Northumberland RFU at its annual meeting on April 2 1889 of the “terrible experiences” he had had, after refereeing a replayed cup-tie at Hexham.
Such was the outrage that it was proposed that if Tynedale was allowed to enter the cup competition the following season, it would be subject to the ties being played on a neutral ground.
The Hexham Courant of the time reported that the semi-final defeat at the hands of Percy Park provoked a hostile demonstration afterwards against Mr Cail, who was subjected to a good deal of verbal abuse both during the game and afterwards.
The report said: “During the game if he blew his whistle he was hooted, and if he did not blow his whistle he was also hooted.
“One Tynedale committeeman, he alleged, called him a scoundrel and flourished his stick at him, while, as he left the ground afterwards, the crowd threw clay at him.”
However, Mr Cail was no shrinking violet, and defended himself in a robust manner, striking one man and getting hold of another by the neck.
A letter from the Tynedale secretary added that by his own admission, Mr Cail had “struck a half-deaf and blind old fellow aged sixty years or so.”
It seems that the ill will against the official dated back to the first game against Percy Park, when Mr Cail’s refereeing raised a few eyebrows.
The Tynedale secretary said: “A large number of Hexham people were displeased at Mr. Cail for hitting twice on the mouth with his fists James W. McIntyre, one of the Tynedale players, when on his knees protesting against the play of a member of the Percy Park team.
“No more unassuming young man plays football than McIntyre.”
Despite being a law-abiding and unassuming fellow myself, I too have a history of clashes with petty officialdom.
My boyhood was spent in a constant battle with school caretakers, park keepers and nightwatchmen whose only purpose in life seemed to be the prevention of enjoyment by children.
In those days, children were fair game for anyone in authority, and there were no social workers or do-gooders to wring their hands over them.
If you did something wrong, you knew if you were caught, you would get a clip round the ear, a thwack with a knobbly walking stick or a boot up the backside.
I grew up in the post-war housing boom, where every spare piece of ground became a building site and an adventure playground for every child for miles around.
There was sand to dig in, trenches to play war in, ladders to climb, roof trusses to wriggle through and floor joists to tightrope along.
And it all had to be done without catching the gimlet eye of the watchman, an old soldier in trench coat and trilby who hunted children just as assiduously as he had hunted Germans a few short years before.
My brother and I were once defending a shell-damaged French farmhouse from a heavily armed horde of SS troopers – well it was really a half-built house being pelted with stones by the Wilwick Lane mob – when the Huns abruptly melted away.
Striding purposefully towards the house was The Watchman, black coat flapping and brandishing his stick – and we were trapped upstairs.
As he thundered menacingly upstairs, we gulped, and like Butch and Sundance leapt out of the window into a welcoming pile of sand.
We then took refuge in a pile of roof trusses, hardly daring to breathe as he stormed out and began casting about, swearing horribly and claiming: “Ah know where you are – Ah can see you!”
As he was standing about two feet away from our quivering bodies, we thought this extremely unlikely, and he eventually strode away muttering, leaving us clinging to each other, weak with delicious terror.
We still went back the next day ...
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk