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BY THE BOOK, by Clive Thomas (1984)

Older readers, particular those who were at Stamford Bridge for the FA Cup Semi-Final Replay between Town and West Ham in 1975, may be may be interested in the following extract from the biography of the referee on that fateful April evening, one Clive Thomas.

For the benefit of younger readers, Thomas, one time FIFA referee, officiated at the top level of the game for some twenty-years before retiring in the early 1980's. The man from the Rhondaa Valley has some critical words for Bobby Robson, Mick Mills, Terry Butcher, Russell Osman and the Portman Road crowd ...

"It speaks volumes about Bobby Robson and his England side that I walked out a full quarter of an hour before the end of their important match with Denmark at Wembley in September 1983, hoping for a quick getaway after watching one of the worst and most gutless displays I had ever seen for a home international side. It gave me no satisfaction that the man in charge was one of the very few managers in the league I could not stand. Nor could I understand him: any man who airs his complaints to the press rather than talking man to man lacks courage in my view.

"Robson first made a bad impression on me at a semi-final replay at Chelsea in 1975. I took the names of four Ipswich players - Burley, Hamilton, Beattie and Wark - as they were losing to West Ham. After the match, during which I had disallowed a goal, Robson stated to the press: 'The referee was in absolutely no position to give an offside decision. The linesman was in a perfect position and he signalled it was a goal - there were several FA administrators at the game and I challenged them to take action against the referee. If they don't, they are failing in their duty to professional soccer.'

"Such an outburst by a manager does no good to the game. I would agree with Robson that the administrators failed to do their duty - but only by not taking a grip of him and giving him a warning. A member of the appeals committee that heard the players' case was Mr Bert Millichip, chairman of the FA, who appointed Robson to his England post. I wonder whether they said even a single word to Robson.

"Some seasons later, when one of his Ipswich team had been sent-off Robson made another strange outburst, this time against Kevin Keegan, who was then playing with Southampton. I had the match the following season and I was ready for Robson to behave in the same manner. Luckily he didn't, but it is sad that you have to prepare, albeit with reluctance, for such outbursts. It is wrong, to my mind, to blame the referee, the opposition, anyone rather than your own shortcomings. I fear this attitude spread through the Ipswich team, too.

"Robson's captain, Mick Mills, never seemed to forgive me for that semi-final replay, either. It's not that he says anything: the way he looks at me when a decision goes against him is sufficient to ensure that our relationship has never been good. Mills seems not to understand that it would have been easy for me to accept both goals I disallowed in the semi-final but West Ham, and more importantly, I would have known that it was dishonest.

"Whenever I refereed Ipswich thereafter, Mills would not speak to me, even at the toss-up. Right, I felt, if that was the childish way he wished to behave so be it - but I would not tolerate a dissentful attitude to linesman. The very next time I was at Portman Road, for an Ipswich Town/Nottingham Forest FA Cup replay, the home supporters acted as foolishly as Robson and his players. They didn't even send me to Coventry, but let me know full well what they thought as soon as I ran out on the ground. It was not long before Mills showed his dissent at a linesman's decision and I rightly cautioned him, to the chagrin of the crowd. (A small incident in the second half: I had to caution another Ipswich player, took out my pencil but - no notebook, as I had left it in the dressing-room. I had to pretend to go through the motions and, later, found an excuse to go to a linesman and borrowed his. Happily, the incident was not picked up by Anglia television.)

"But back to Mills. In my last season or two, he was gradually starting to acknowledge me. I wonder whether this was because he had moved to Southampton and had a manager with a more mature personality, or whether he had realised, belatedly, that Thomas would stand no nonsense.

"Other players from the Ipswich side who should never in my opinion be near the England squad - they would not have been ten years ago - are Russell Osman and Terry Butcher. Butcher appears to have no particular skills other than to ensure that no one passes him. I would certainly have sent him off for one tackle during the World Cup in Spain. He committed a very typical professional foul to prevent a likely goal.

"Now I'm not saying that these four, nor the other people in this chapter, have nothing to offer. They may be perfectly good husbands and fathers and remember their mothers' birthdays. But they are also people who by their attitude do very little to help the game and who should not be copied, I believe, by young people."

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