An Incompetent Ref and Fanfan's Ramblings

Last updated : 09 January 2006 By Strathclyde Bear
Those of you familiar with wartime football may recall the story of FC Start; a team largely made up of players from the temporarily disbanded Dynamo Kiev side, then working at a local bakery in occupied Kiev. The hugely impressive Start were formed to take part in a miniature league season in 1942, culminating in the "Death Match" against a Luftwaffe side.

The exhausted, starved and overworked Start players, against a super-fit German side and a Gestapo referee, not only defeated their opponents but also managed to humiliate them in the process. A story of genuine resistance under extraordinary circumstances; Start won against all the odds.

Fast forward some 60 years and you would be forgiven for thinking Kenny Clark and his assistants were appointed by Celtic to make sure their Scottish Cup tie against Clyde was a problem-free victory. The match saw some of the worst refereeing decisions in a long time, thankfully highlighted nationwide thanks to a certain debutante being big news down south.

The chance for Clyde's first goal came from incompetent Celtic defending; a 50/50 challenge led to du Wei hitting the deck and Brighton scoring with a well-taken shot. "No goal" sayeth the ref.

If that was a harsh decision then the second was just plain ridiculous. Two players were offside but the man that scored, Alex Williams, was clearly onside. The current active/inactive rule may be a farce but the rules are there to be adhered to and, in this case, the official either wasn't aware of them or was fearing for his double glazing. Regardless, the decision was wrong.

Now we get to the real beauty: the penalty decision. If that wasn't a clear goal-scoring opportunity - with Brighton only having the 'keeper to beat - then just what is? The Sportsound panel were laughing in disbelief at Clark's excuse and it was described as the clearest sending off all season. Did the referee issue a red card? Even a yellow card? Of course not!

The third chopped off 'goal' was again a case of the official not knowing or not enforcing the active/inactive offside rule. The ball was played forward but the offside Clyde player never touched it, with the ball coming off a Celtic defender before Brighton scored. The offside player therefore never became active and the flag should have stayed down. Pretty simple, don't you think?

You could put these lapses down to incompetence or cheating; either way, Kenny Clark, with his history and these examples, should never be allowed to officiate a game in Scotland again. Will the SFA act? You bet; they'll send a spokesman up the yellow brick road, riding a unicorn towards the Merry Old Land of Oz to make the announcement.

So there you go; without cheating on the part of Kenny Clark it may well have been 5-0 to Clyde against ten-man Celtic. Despite this, it was still, in this Bear's opinion, the greatest Scottish Cup upset in history. Don't forget that last Summer Clyde had only two registered players, prompting Graham Roberts to advertise for out-of-work footballers in papers and hold X-Factor style 'call me if you can play' auditions. A young side of rejected players, a team only months old, pulled together for this result. Maybe Graham could teach Alex a thing or two about coaching?

Roberts' post-match comments lead us on to a further worrying situation. The Clyde players and management both said they had studied Celtic's play all week - particularly the defence - and knew what to expect and how to beat them. Compare this to Rangers who, according to Jose-Karl Pierre Fanfan, do "only stretching and running at Murray Park" during training.

Organisation and tactics versus a bit of a running and stretching; it's no wonder we're sitting so far behind behind that mhob in the league. Celtic are there for the taking at the moment but with McLeish in charge we have little hope. Take note McLeish and Murray.

Strathclyde Bear