HERE in the Fellows'Common Room, within the philosophy department of the Scottish University of Sporting Comment, most of the other chaps suggest, the generally friendly discussions between myself and my rugby counterpart, that old fart Aristotle Armstrong were the basis of Robert Newman's and David Baddiel's feuding professors, with their catch-phrase of: “That's you that is.”
Craig Thomson - Not His Best Hampden Afternoon
Cannot see it myself, old Aristotle is a strange cove, but, somehow likeable. Any way, he joined me yesterday afternoon to watch the Betfred Cup Final, and, having had a fatwah declared on him by the High Heid Yins at BT Murrayfield, following some trenchant criticism of a couple of rugby referees, I was interested in what he thought of Craig Thomson's performance.
Aristotle was not impressed, and while I consider his views on football, which he refers to as Wendyball, a wee bit extreme, I have to concur with his view – Craig Thomson had a “'mare'”. In particular, his decision to award Celtic that ludicrous second-half penalty, then compound his folly by red-carding Motherwell's Cedric Kipre, for allegedly bringing down Celtic's Scott Sinclair. If Thomson had made that level of a mistake in his "day job" as a solicitor - he'd be up before the Law Society of Scotland to explain himself. In football, he will probably get a few more big games.
The red card which Australia's Sekope Kepu received in yesterday's rugby international at Murrayfield was just about the easiest ever to adjudicate on – it was an absolute stonewaller. Well Thomson's decision to send-off Kipre was one of the worst I have ever seen.
Truth be told, Thomson had a bad day, but, just as players blow hot and cold, so too do officials. He is now in his 14th season as a FIFA official, and for many of these, he was considered Scotland's top official. I am afraid, not any more; perhaps it is time for him to hang-up his whistle.
I always felt, if Motherwell hoped to win, they had to score first. They were already a goal down when Thomson suffered what we here in Ayrshire refer to as: “A rush of shite to the brain” and made his howler. After that it was game over.
Mind you, he didn't get everything wrong. I though he got it right when he took no action after Kipre won the ball off Moussa Dembele in the first half, leaving the Frenchman rolling on the floor. I thought it was a good, old-fashioned last-ditch tackle, of the kind the game's High Heid Yins seem determined to eradicate.
Analyst Terry Butcher liked it, but, was, because of modern mores, obliged to kid-on he didn't, Chris Sutton, as expected, was raging.
Still, one trophy down, two to go; 65 wins and counting; that Paris pasting didn't hold Celtic back much.
A rare shot of Fernandinho on his feet
What a pity Thomson was unaware of an incident in the Manchester City v Huddersfield match, in which the match referee, without hesitation, and to his great credit, booked City's Brazilian Fernandinho for quite the worst “dive” I have ever seen. The Huddersfield player's foot wasn't within a foot of the City player, but, down he went, and then had the gall to be grievously offended when the ref booked him. It should be noted, both Sinclair and the Brazilian had a spell at the Ethiad. Just what do they teach them at “the noisy neighbours'” training ground – advanced referee conning?
Old Aristotle was telling me, former top rugby referee and later SRU President Allan Hosie always argued that serious foul play in rugby – no matter where on the field it was perpetrated - should be punished with a football-style penalty, from a spot in front of the posts. A bit extreme perhaps, but, in the spirit of inter-code relations, and with a view towards cutting-out diving, perhaps football should adopt a rugby punishment.
In rugby, if say, a player from side A commits a foul on an opponent, who then perhaps retaliates with a manly punch, the referee can reverse the penalty. Why doesn't football try that for “simulation”. A player, let's call him Sinclair, from a team, let's call it Celtic, “dives” inside an opponent's penalty area in an effort to win a penalty.
If the referee spots the dive, he could therefore take play to the opposite end of the park, and give the opposition, let's call them Motherwell, a penalty. I reckon this would pretty much eradicate “diving” overnight.
Old Aristotle, by the way, was pretty scathing on young master Sinclair at Hampden, pointing out, 24-hours or so earlier at Murrayfield, Scotland's Hamish Watson had taken a shoulder to the jaw from an airborne, 18-stones plus Australian, and although Watson went down – and who wouldn't; he bounced straight back up and didn't even need a wipe with a cold sponge from the physio.
Now That's What You Call A Red-Card Foul - Kepu Hits Hamish Watson
Of course, Watson is a Manchester-born Scot, Sinclair is a Bath-born Englishmen, who admits: “I felt a bit of a touch and went down”. The differing attitude to different levels of contact clearly proves that old jibe about “soft Southerners”, and also the different attitudes of the players of rugby and football.
Final word, both Chris Sutton and Neil Lennon, on media duties at Hampden, got tore into Sinclair for his blatant dive – enough said. A clear case of the “always cheated” actually cheating themselves – whaur's yer moral high ground noo?
THE RECENT bad weather meant, only ten of the scheduled 32 matches in the third round of the Scottish Junior Cup went ahead on Saturday.
Result of the day, for me, has to be Rossvale's 3-2 defeat of Aberdeen giants Banks o Dee. The Bankies' last fixture before Saturday's cup tie, was a match in THE Scottish Cup, in which they were hammered at home, by Ayr United.
Not really a surprise, but, the North Region cracks surely fancied themselves against the Bishopbriggs side, who play in the Central League, First Division. So, well done to 'Vale, who are on a good run of form just now, and pushing for promotion.