As has become a tradition on this site, the Monday column is the preserve of a review of the weekend’s action in the Scottish game. Congratulations are due to Hibs who have won the Scottish Championship and can now look forward to renewing rivalries with Hearts next season. Their tails will be up for the semi-final against Aberdeen. Given a choice I would pluck for this game in preference to the Glasgow derby. The Rangers-facing referee, who will despise both Hibs and Aberdeen in equal measure, will be so conflicted that he might break the mould and officiate in what passes in the Scottish game for an honest manner.
This will not be the case in two back to back Glasgow derbies. I have witnessed Willie Collum award a penalty for a dive by Kirk Broadfoot in the box. Broadfoot was not being challenged, under pressure, or in possession of the ball. He waited until Collum was unsighted and dropped like a ballerina in a swan outfit, knowing that Collum would be under intense Bear pressure to award a spot kick. An honest mistake? No just the action of at best a weak referee, or at worst a cheat. If he is the token Celtic supporter in the pro-Lite phalanx of referees, as some have suggested, he evidently overcompensates.
To compound Celtic’s problems their captain Scott Brown will almost certainly be suspended from the game at Ibrox. As the disciplinary panel do not reconvene until the 27th April, Brown will be eligible for Sunday’s semi-final if, as anticipated, Celtic appeal the red card.
Should Rodgers play the little girl that is Mackay-Stevens, Lite will have a field day at Ibrox. When I turn my thoughts to the first of two successive Glasgow derbies, I note that Dembele is a yard short of match fitness. Griffiths is a yard short full stop. Lite must really fancy their chances as Celtic are failing to capitalise on their dominance in possession and as we saw at Pittodrie if teams don’t close out games, Lite, who can execute, will prevail.
I’m sticking with my prediction of a re-run of last year’s final. I fancy Hibs to retain the Cup. Should Celtic prevail on Sunday, the following Saturday’s game at Ibrox will be subverted by the referee to bring Celtic’s unbeaten run to an end. A sending off and a penalty should do the trick. Celtic supporters should brace themselves for the inevitable. Beaton, Madden, Dallas and Muir are desperate to punish them. These four are the most blatant cheats, but there are other Scottish referees who live by the mantra: Anyone but Celtic.
It has long been my contention that when Scottish match officials set out to cheat, they do so in tandem. It remains unspoken. A Masonic handshake is all that’s required for the referee to know who will back his cheating without question
Donald Robertson and Stuart Stevenson were the only two observers who could misconstrue the most blatant dive I have ever seen in a Scottish game. There was as much guile from the appalling cheat that is Schalk as there was contact i.e. none whatsoever.
Robertson completed the standard subversion play by sending off Scott Brown, although Brown should have quickly established that the fix was in and that any foul by a Celtic player would face the ultimate sanction. It was cheating by numbers, with Robertson and Stevenson joining the dots. One can often gauge the scale of the cheating by the reaction of the players:
Will John Fleming, The Head of Refereeing Development, censure Robertson and Stevenson? Of course not. Their deliberate subversion of a game will be filed under ‘honest mistakes‘ and we will all be urged to move on ‘in the interests of Scottish football”.
However one should ask why these slings and arrows of misfortune are not a feature at Ibrox? If referees were merely incompetent why has this not been apparent at Lite home games?
I recall a time when the cheating against Celtic was so blatant that Neil Lennon and his backroom staff compiled a video dossier. What then followed, to widespread disbelief and much laughter, was a referee strike as the Scottish whistlers felt that their integrity had been impugned. Those brought in from other leagues as cover did a far better job with no hidden agendas. The strike only lasted one game as they were far from missed. Hugh Dallas, probably the most blatant referee cheat in the history of Scottish football, who had just been charged with transmitting a cartoon depicting the Pope as a paedophile, offered a sordid deal where he would call off the strike if the charges against him and his five fellow bigots at the SFA were dropped. Dallas was given short shrift. It now falls to his son to continue the Dallas family tradition of Anyone but Celtic.
Was Schalk, who entered the field of play with only seven minutes to play, sent on to dive to earn a point? Was the cheating predetermined? Did Robertson have a word with County Manager Jim McIntyre at half-time to apprise him that he would look favourably on a dive? Nothing would surprise me in the corrupt realm of Scottish football.
It was not the first time this season that Celtic were denied three points by the cheating of a referee. Sine did Rangers supporter Bobby Madden denied Griffiths a penalty when he was felled by a waist-high tackle from behind by Clint Hill. Hill later confirmed what everyone knew – it was a penalty all day long at the summer solstice. However to curry favout with his true blue buddies at The Salmon Leap in East Kilbride, he cheated. I accurately predicted prior to this game that he would cheat (JJ passim: A Challenge to The Invincibles).
Brendan Rodgers comes across as a good statesman, but this latest subversion called for someone with more fire in their belly, such as Neil Lennon. Rodgers asserted:
“The points were taken from us by a horrendous decision by the referee. I’ve seen some bad decisions up here but that was one of the worst. It was really poor, first because of his position – he could see it clearly – and secondly because there is absolutely no way that Sviatchenko even made an attempt to challenge, but the penalty was given against him. I’m one who likes to protect officials but that was a very, very easy decision, so I don’t know what he was seeing. He needs help from his linesman and the fourth official who were all on the right side of the field, so there were three of them to get the decision correct.”
Welcome to Scotland Mr. Rodgers. Has no-one informed you that you need two clear goals to escape the clutches of the bigoted referees?
Jim McIntyre, the Ross County manager, who was naturally pleased by his team’s acquisition of a potentially priceless point, stated:
” It’s not a penalty. I’ve watched it again. You can clearly see that Sviatchenko goes to tackle him but pulls out at the last moment and Alex is expecting contact and is on his way down. I can fully understand Celtic’s anger and disappointment but we’ve had several of them go against us this season and it’s hard to take.”
If Ross County has had a game subverted by the blatant cheating of a referee and his assistant then McIntyre should name and shame the match officials.
One wonders if this cheated point will condemn another more honest team to relegation or the relegation play-off games?