Football: Jim Mclean the Column That Packs a Punch; That Was a Holt from the Blue

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), March 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

Football: Jim Mclean the Column That Packs a Punch; That Was a Holt from the Blue


Byline: Jim McLean

I KNEW just how angry Celtic fans felt after John Hartson's perfectly legitimate goal was ruled offside in the CIS Insurance Cup final. I knew because it happened to me in three cup finals.

In the 1981-82 League Cup Final, Dundee United were 1-0 up against Rangers and Paul Sturrock scored a magnificent goal coming in from the left wing.

But John Holt, who was coming in from the opposite wing at the corner of the penalty box, was judged to be interfering with play and the goal was chalked off.

We also bagged a goal against Motherwell in the 1991 Scottish Cup Final in the first 10 minutes when the score was 0- 0 and that, too, was disallowed. It was a magnificent game but we lost 4-3 and I always think the first goal is vital.

And it was the same against St Mirren in 1987 when Kevin Gallacher scored a goal and it was chalked off.

In three cup finals we were punished by linesmen's decisions and it was ludicrous. And it was ludicrous for Celtic to be denied that equaliser.

In any game it is a nightmare to lose a goal but in a cup final it is utterly unbearable to feel robbed the way I did.

I'd like to know what punishment the linesman involved in this miscarriage of justice will receive. There is no place for complete incompetence in the game. He should be demoted immediately.

I was reading recently that Don McVicar, the head of referees, was telling his men not to bother about criticism - just continue as you are.

That is a ridiculous statement because, just like any footballer, no matter what you have achieved, you want to be better and you are always wanting to improve.

And there is no doubt that referees and linesmen in Scotland could be and should be a lot better. But I there is no way I reckon there is any conspiracy by referees against teams though I feel that the usually bigger clubs get the benefit.

There is no way, for example, that if Rangers had scored the same goal as Paul Sturrock that it would have been disallowed because of the amount of people celebrating.

But usually it is not bias - it is not Protestants looking after Rangers or anything like that - it is human nature.

There is no way I would suggest any of the referees are dishonest. But they are definitely incompetent and make mistakes.

It would be extremely difficult to bring in video evidence for all tight decisions and a lot of the time you just have to grin and bear it.

But there are times we might be able to use modern technology to help the game and if there are situations where we can use that technology quickly enough, it would make a huge difference. …

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