PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland
A little comparison of two articles written by the same journalist highlights the way the mindset works up here in Scotland. The articles were written a week apart and there was a stonewall penalty denied in each of the games being reported. In fact there were three stonewall penalties denied in one of the games
The newspaper is the Daily Record and the journalist is Keith Jackson (the terms ‘newspaper’ and ‘journalist’ being applied with a degree of artistic license in both cases here).
The games being covered were Rangers’ 1-4 defeat to Seville in the Champions League and Rangers 2-1 victory over Celtic, played within four days of each other at the start of October 2009.
First of all, let’s look at the reference to the referee’s role and the comment by Jackson in a game where he admits Celtic should have had a further three penalties and yet only lost the game by a single goal.
In the SPL game there were four mentions of Craig Thomson by name:
“Or even why referee Craig Thomson awarded them only one penalty kick when he had cause to point to the spot on four or five separate occasions.”
“Shaun Maloney was denied two stonewall penalty kicks. First he was taken out by a challenge from the outstanding DavieWeir but ref Thomson failed to spot it.”
“When Thomson did finally point to the spot in 24 minutes it was for a far less obvious foul on surprise Celtic starter Zheng Zhi “
“Wilson, though, made a bit of a meal of stumbling to the ground and he, too, was booked by Thomson for attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the officials, which did seem harsh.”
And now the same journalist’s reaction to one stonewall penalty being denied in a game that Rangers lost 1-4:
“Done in by a dodgy Eriksson. Swedish official Jonas Eriksson to be precise.”
“Quite incredibly, Eriksson choked and balked his responsibilities in jaw-dropping fashion.”
“Had Eriksson’s bottle not crashed so completely and if Rangers had converted from the spot and gone in 1-0 up at half time? Against 10 men? It is hard to imagine they could have capitulated quite so badly from such a position of strength.”
“All eyes turned immediately to Eriksson who seemed to be in the perfect position but who also appeared to freeze for just the briefest of moments before waving for play to continue.”
“Naismith thumped his fists off the rainsodden turf and let out a cry of disbelief. McCulloch ran at Eriksson pleading with him to do the right thing but it was over. Gone.”
“But this time these players don’t just have themselves to blame. They can thank Eriksson for his part in their unseemly demise.”
See any difference?
There was not a single word of condemnation against Thomson. No opinion, just a report the facts.
Eriksson, on the other hand, was totally pilloried and called dodgy, a choker, a rocket, a bottle-crasher and a man who freezes when called on to make a decision.
Finally, did the journalist think it affected the outcome of the game?
In the game involving Celtic, not a mention. In fact his summation was:
“Most of all, Mowbray and his players will have reason to question their own frailties. Some may now be fretting over the direction this team is taking because while they could justifiably have claimed at least a point, the truth is this could also have been a far heavier, perhaps even humiliating, defeat.’
In the Rangers-Seville game - a game in which Rangers were ultimately thrashed - this is how he commented on the effect of the non awarded penalty:
“As stonewallers go this one could have kept Genghis Khan and his Mongols out of Peking. So big, so blatant and so obvious it could have been spotted by a man on the moon. Sadly for Rangers, however, there was one rocket of a man who couldn’t quite make it out from all of 15 yards away and after this act of astonishing ineptitude, Scotland’s champions would go on to crash and burn quite spectacularly in the rarefied atmosphere of the Champions League.”
“Of course, there are occasions when it’s simply too convenient to blame another European loss on the decisions made by the man in the middle. All that wailing and gnashing of teeth has become something of a homegrown cliche over these defeat-strewn years. But not this time. Not even despite the fact Sevilla eventually dished out one helluva spanking to Smith’s players during a second-half performance that was as devastating as it was slick.”
“Yet despite this relentless blitz - and even though the embarrassment levels were soaring with each bone-shuddering blow that rained down on Rangers’ glass chin - this time you really had to feel for Walter Smith and his players. This time they really had a case. These players were left utterly bemused by the failure of one of UEFA’s leading whistlers to do his job and point to the penalty spot the moment Abdoulay Konko whipped the legs from under Steven Naismith. Everyone could see it. Konko was as guilty as sin.Deep down the full-back,who used both legs just to make sure he floored the little striker in front of a gaping goal, probably expected to be red-carded for his clumsy last-ditch foul. But, quite incredibly, Eriksson choked and balked his responsibilities in jaw-dropping fashion.”
“Which is why only the most churlish and heard-hearted of observers could have failed to feel some sympathy for Smith and his players as their night turned from bad to worse to excruciating. They did not deserve this. In fact, the way in which they had dominated long spells of the first 45 minutes had come as a delightful surprise.”
So penalties do affect the outcome of games when Rangers don’t get them, but not in the case of Celtic. And it’s only referees who give decisions against Rangers who are dodgy, a rocket and castigated.
When a journalist is prepared to write articles to suit one agenda only, he loses the right to be taken seriously. Jackson is not the worst, but he is clearly someone who lets his support for Rangers affect his judgement.
Fortunately for him his employer is even more blatantly biased than he is.
More paranoid ranting available at www.celticparanoia.blogspot.com
TONY BANANAS & HACKWATCHER