Part 1 - Off like a train - Part
3 - Colchester, Tinkler and Fairs success - Results
and table - printer
In October 1970, Leeds
United centre-half and senior professional Jack Charlton was
involved in one of the year's great sporting controversies. He
had agreed to be interviewed by broadcaster Fred Dinenage for
Tyne Tees Television on Saturday, 3 October. The interview was
arranged as part of a pilot programme but was considered so good
that it went out unedited, with Charlton's agreement.
The defender was in high spirits after United's
impressive start to the season. Leeds had beaten Huddersfield
earlier in the day and earlier in the week he had scored twice
in a 5-0 defeat of the Norwegians, Sarpsborg. Much of the interview
was a light hearted affair with Jack playing up to the cameras
and the audience, and, according to Geoffrey Green in the Times,
"Charlton himself emerges as the man he is, warm, forthright,
articulate and honest."
The following verbatim extracts were the elements
that sparked the controversy.
Question: As wages and incentives have got higher,
has the game got more violent?
Answer: You do what is necessary in the circumstances.
That is one of Alf Ramsey's great sayings. If I was playing in
an international and saw someone getting away with the ball and
I could not catch him, I would flatten him. My job is to stop
a man scoring. I would not break anyone's leg or anything like
that, but I would maybe grab him by the scruff of the neck and
stop him running. I think every defender in the Football League
would do it.
Question: You have had your fair share of cuts and
bruises. What is the worst thing that has happened to you, what
is the worst foul?
Answer: I cannot mention names but I have a little
book with two names in it and if I get the chance to do them I
will. I do not do what I consider to be the bad fouls in the game
such as going over the top. That is about the worst foul in the
game, but I will tackle as hard as I can to win the ball, but
I will not do the dirty things, the really nasty things. When
people do it to me I do it back to them. Because I am not noted
for doing so people don't do it to me, but there are two or three
people who have done it to me and I will make them suffer before
I pack this game up.
Charlton declined to confirm exactly who was on
his hit list, but promised ominously "they know who they are".
The programme was originally screened only in the
Tyne Tees region, but like wildfire, quotes spread like wildfire
in the media all over the country, with Charlton painted as the
blackest of wrongdoers. The interview was given a nationwide screening
when it was repeated in full on ITV's World of Sport the following
Saturday, 10 October.
Forty years on, it all seems something of a trivial
matter. At the time, however, what became rather po-facedly known
as "The Charlton Affair" was taken very seriously indeed by the
self righteous guardians of the game's good name.
The Football Association announced that they would
take immediate steps to investigate the matter, a spokesman saying,
"The matter is already receiving attention and early contact will
be made with Charlton through his club. If he admits making the
remarks reported, it will be taken up to the Emergency Committee
to decide whether he will have to face
a charge of bringing the game into disrepute."
Don Warters reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post:
"The man who was England's World Cup centre-half in 1966 has a
reputation throughout the game as a gentlemanly character on the
field, hard enough, yet fair enough, but for those who know him
off the field he is a man who will speak his mind without fear
or favour. I have a great respect for anyone who speaks his mind,
but there are times when it is better to bite the tongue.
back to top
"Jack Charlton is the elder statesman of the Leeds
United side, but his remarks ... were hardly diplomatic. They
may have been true ... but they have not done the image of football
both in this country and abroad the slightest bit of good.
"Charlton has played the game a long time, and while
he would be the last person to want to wrongly influence youngsters
taking up the game, his outburst will not have gone unnoticed
by boys who look upon such as Charlton as idols and also for guidance.
"Jack Charlton may only have said publicly what
other players will admit privately - that vendettas in top soccer
do go on - but this surely was an instance where Big Jack should
have fallen into line and kept his thoughts and his intentions
By the end of the week, the FA had charged Charlton
with having made remarks likely to bring the game into disrepute,
issuing a statement which read: "The Emergency Committee, acting
on behalf of the council in accordance with standing orders, has
heard a complete recording of a television interview by Jack Charlton,
and is of the opinion that statements contained therein constitute
breaches of FA Rule 38 (A) (8) in that they are likely to bring
the game into disrepute. The committee is decided, therefore,
that the player be charged in accordance with FA Rule 38 (8) with
breaches of Rule 38 (A) (8). The Committee has decided also that
the attention of the Football League be brought to the matter
in the light of Football league regulations 39 (3) and 74. The
Emergency Committee has further decided that until the matter
has been resolved the England team manager should be informed
that Charlton won't be eligible for selection for any FA representative
That last part effectively ended Charlton's England
career, although, at 35 and with Alf Ramsey intent on rebuilding
for 1974, he was no longer in contention anyway.
Charlton was roundly booed by the home supporters
when playing at West Bromwich Albion on 10 October, though he
said at the time: "I must thank the supporters of West Brom ...
for the wonderful way they treated me. It was the most nerve-wracking
game of my life, which covers a lot of ground, but I was allowed
to settle into it without trouble. They treated me strictly on
merit during the game."
The FA's investigation took almost a month to complete.
On 4 December, the Times reported the outcome: "Jackie Charlton,
of Leeds United and England, has been admonished by the Football
Association after his black book interview on television last
October when he said that he would do
two players whose names he had in a book if he had the chance.
A three-man commission in London yesterday also advised him to
be more careful in future when commenting on the game.
"A statement, made by the FA secretary, Denis Follows,
said that Charlton expressed regret that anything he said could
have been construed in such a way as to bring the game into disrepute.
He felt that certain remarks he made might have been better expressed.
"The commission accepted that Charlton had been
speaking in a light hearted manner for a television audience;
also that he might not have realised the serious effect which
his statement would have on the public, or that the reaction was
likely to bring the game into disrepute. The commission decided
that because of his length of service in football and his established
position as a senior player and an international, certain remarks
were ill considered."
Charlton's Saturday column for the Yorkshire Evening
Post a couple of days later was devoted to the matter: "When I
asked the FA for complete privacy at my hearing, the last thing
I expected was that it would be effective. The whole little black
book affair, as it had become known, had been about as private
as a goldfish bowl.
"For two weeks people were calling at my home and
on my telephone. There was hardly a minute free from it wherever
I went. Yet at the hearing there were no reporters, no photographers,
no television cameramen, nobody from the film companies. The ironic
thing was that of all places to have the meeting, it took place
in the London offices of Tyne Tees Television!
"The reason for having it there was that the commission
had agreed to see the television interview all the fuss was about
before passing judgement.
"The reaction next day was in complete contrast
to all this hullabaloo. I would have thought the people who knocked
me would at least have had the decency to complain about me getting
off with such a mild caution. Most of them seemed conveniently
to have forgotten about it all. Maybe the truth is they were all
a bit shame faced.
"People I have known for years kept on at me while
the name Jack Charlton was being criticised and generally mauled
about. They wanted me to justify what I had said on television
but I refused to discuss it with anyone who had not seen it for
themselves. I kept telling them the words, taken out of context
and out of the atmosphere in which they were said, gave the wrong
impression. Those who did go away to see it never came back on
the subject and that surely was
the most significant thing.
"More than 400 people wrote to me. Most of those
who were with me had seen it and wanted to say how much they enjoyed
it. There were six letters against me, but only one of the half
dozen writers had seen what he was writing about. It was a bit
of an effort but I wrote back to them all, personally.
back to top
"Looking back ... I now realise I was wrong to say
the things I said, the way I said them. It's not because of the
fact that Jack Charlton was hurt. That's nothing. But it gave
people the opportunity to hurt through me the game I love. I regret
that very much.
"The truth is there was never any little black book.
It was just my way of saying there are a couple of players who
have had an unfair go at me at one time or another.
"People criticised me for saying too much. The trouble
I feel now is that I didn't say enough. I thought I had qualified
all I had said so there could be no misunderstanding. Obviously
I was wrong.
"If I was hurt it doesn't show now. Apparently people
don't dislike me as much as they did. At any rate I have never
been better received to my face. Maybe they say other things behind
my back, but I'll never know about that.
"The darkest part was the ignominious end to my
international career. I knew it was over anyway. It was logical
if, as I said the other day, you look at the England team in a
way that makes the distant future all important. But after 35
caps, goodness knows how many representative matches, as well
as months spent training with the England lads, to be evicted
in that way...
"Now, they say I am available again for selection
by England. I know I won't be picked again, but just to be free
to be chosen again is a great thrill!
"I apologised to the FA Commission. I told them
any offence I had caused was wholly unintentional. The interview
was recorded. I could have dropped it or any part of it, but it
never occurred to me it would be wrongly construed.
"What this has taught me is to pick my friends with
a little more care, and not to say things in a way that they might
be misunderstood. I was lucky. It was something I needed to learn
at this stage of my career. There are going to be times when I
have to say things that are in my mind, but I'll take greater
care to make sure I put them in the right way."
Leo McKinstry in Jack & Bobby - A story of brothers
in conflict: "It was Jack's almost brazen honesty that was to
land him in the greatest controversy of his career. In October
1970, Tyne Tees Television conducted an in-depth interview with
him about the realities of life as a top professional footballer.
It was a far more thorough, interesting job than most of the dreary,
cliche-ridden, 'boys-done-good' interviews that are served up
today for public consumption. The first reaction to the programme
was highly positive. In the Tyne Tees building, the studio audience
watching the live filming of Charlton's performance laughed and
applauded. Amongst their number were Cissie and Bob Charlton,
who rose to his feet with pride and declared his brother to be
'a man's man'.
"As usual with such sagas, it was not the interview
itself which provoked the outrage, but the interpretation of it
in the press. Several reporters, attending the Tyne Tees preview,
picked up Jack's remarks and relayed them to their national offices.
The moment they appeared in print, there was a national outcry.
Macaulay famously wrote in 1843 that there is 'no spectacle so
ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits
of morality' and it was exactly one such fit which now had Jack
Charlton at its centre. 'These sickening comments,' ran the headline
in the Daily Express, above an opinion piece by sports editor
John Morgan which called for Charlton to be sacked by Leeds: 'The
damage caused by the words Charlton used cannot be estimated in
the effect it will have on hundreds of youngsters. The damage
abroad will show in the inevitable repercussions years hence.'
In the Daily Mirror Peter Wilson asked: 'Have these petulant,
primping, over-paid, under-principled gladiators no responsibility?'
"As he had always done on the football field, Jack
displayed remarkable calm under pressure. He refused to retract
any of his comments and rightly said he was only speaking the
truth about what went on in professional football. He told the
Yorkshire Evening Post on 5 October, 'I have no regrets. I stand
by what I said during the interview. I have been in this game
a long time and I am not a dirty player, but what I referred to
in the interview does happen. Everyone knows what goes on but
no-one has ever said it before. I was asked a question and I answered
it honestly.' What particularly annoyed him was the way the journalists
rushed to condemn him without actually having viewed the film.
'The press have knocked me terribly about something they know
nothing about. It has been taken completely out of context. Everything
I said was qualified.' With the loyalty that was his hallmark,
manager Don Revie supported
him. Having viewed the film, he said he could not see what all
the fuss was about.
back to top
"Other, less feverish voices in the media put the
row into some context. Ian Wooldridge in the Daily Mail praised
Jack for breaking 'a conspiracy of silence' over vendettas in
professional sport. 'Vendettas did not start with Jack Charlton.
They are as old as Dixie Dean.' Wooldridge then recounted the
story of how the 16-year-old Dean had lost a testicle to a particularly
vicious defender while playing for Tranmere. Dean had told Wooldridge,
'17 years later, I saw him in a pub in Chester. I waited for him
to leave, followed him down the road and then, in a quiet corner
I beat the living daylights out of him.' Joe Mercer, the hugely
respected manager of Manchester City, put forward the widely held
view in the football world that Jack was not a dirty player: 'He
is no soccer hard man. He's a good professional. He's a sportsman
who loves to win. But he is not an assassin on the field who must
win at all costs. I can tell you straight that none of my Manchester
City players have any fear of Charlton.' For the Professional
Footballers Association, Derek Dougan gave this balanced verdict:
'I have played against Jack at club and international level and
have found him a very fair competitor. I wouldn't say he wasn't
hard, but I don't think I have ever had any sort of injury when
playing against him. He may be justified in saying this because
in the past one or two players may have taken liberties against
"Football's administrators, however, felt they had
to respond to the public mood and immediately imposed a temporary
ban on Jack playing for England, a meaningless punishment given
that Jack had told Ramsey on the plane back from Mexico that he
wished to retire from international football. A special joint
disciplinary committee was then organised by the Football League
and FA to hear the charge against Jack of 'bringing the game into
disrepute'. Ably supported by Revie, Jack persuasively argued
his case and was, effectively, exonerated. There was to be no
suspension or fine, and Jack was only required to make an apology
for his remarks. This he did in the most adroit way, managing
a not-too-subtle dig at the media: 'I apologise that, through
me, the press were given an opportunity to knock football.'
"It was ironic that Jack Charlton should be the
focus of such a controversy over dirty play, given that ... there
were many in his own Leeds side who were far more guilty. Indeed,
Jack strongly opposed the cynical, sour 'professionalism' of the
Leeds approach as John Giles, confirmed to me. 'Jack would get
stuck in, do his job and do it well, but that was it. Bobby
Collins, for instance, was a great player, but he was also
very aggressive and Jack didn't like that. Now in the Sixties,
football was a violent game. If you were a skillful player, other
teams would try to put you out of the match. If you didn't give
it back, you were a soft touch. My attitude was that I had to
respond in order to play. So I responded, Bobby Collins responded
and it could be very vicious. Jack knew what I was doing, and
he never approved of that. So we had a few rows about it.'
"Alan Gowling, who played as a striker for Manchester
United from 1968 before he joined Newcastle, gave me this perspective
on facing Jack: 'I personally always found him very fair. He was
physically very strong, dominant in the air, tough to play against
but he was not dirty. He could handle himself but he would not
resort to the kind of off-the-ball tactics that a lot of Leeds
players went for. I can always remember one occasion when we were
at Elland Road. Jack had got the ball with his back to me. I tried
to get past him and caught him on the leg. He turned round as
if he was going to throw this great punch at me. And then he saw
it was me and realised I was not someone who would normally kick
him just for the sake of it. He said, 'It's a good job it was
"The hypocrisy of the game in 1970 was that both
officials and journalists whipped up a frenzy over Jack while
doing little about far worse offenders. The idea that Jack was
some sort of thug, working his way through a hit list, was just
absurd, as John Giles says: 'The black book was just a joke in
the Leeds dressing room. But Jack got in trouble because he never
saw anything wrong in speaking his mind.'
"Later, Jack revealed the names of several of the
players he particularly despised - Bertie Auld of Celtic, George
Kirby of Southampton ('a player always liable to hurt you') and
John Morrissey, the Everton winger. Brian Labone, Morrissey's
Everton colleague, understands why Jack felt strongly about him:
'John was a dirty little bugger. He was about half the size of
Jack and when he was around, you had to look out.'
"Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this whole
sorry business was the way it provided the first glimpse into
the tensions within the Charlton family. Despite their distance,
both the brothers had always been loyal to each other in their
public pronouncements, but on this occasion, Bobby - who, coincidentally
played his 500th game for United during the week of the broadcast
- decided to go on the attack. In an article on 7 October 1970
in the Daily Express, under the headline 'Explain Yourself Brother
Jack', Bobby said: 'The remarks on the record would not come well
from a lad of 20 or 21 who had been in the game five minutes.
But the effect is that much worse when they come from someone
of Jack's experience and prestige. Jack must know what effect
this business is having, that it is not doing the game any good.
But he appears to be sticking to his guns. This is Jack all right.
He is as stubborn as they come.' The New Zealand journalist Norman
Harris was in Jack's house at the time of the crisis and, in a
diary piece, described the reaction to Bobby's article: 'There
is now some dissension in the family, and unpleasantness in a
phone conversation between the two brothers.' Then Cissie took
up the cudgels against Bobby, no longer the favourite son since
his marriage to Norma: 'I am amazed at our Bobby,' she told the
Daily Mail, 'he's in the same position as all of Jack's other
critics. He hasn't seen the television programme.' And she added,
in defence of Jack, 'Everyone knows Jack is not a dirty player.
Where has everyone's sense of humour gone?'
"As with so many press-inspired squalls, this one
disappeared almost as soon as it had blown up. The lurid predictions
of a collapse in the standing of the game never materialised.
Nor was there any real long-term damage to Jack's reputation.
Indeed, if anything, he was respected all the more for his plain
speaking in the twilight of his career.
"Jack's tough physical approach was seen by many
as the embodiment of the worst of Leeds' aggressive footballing
culture. Jack was once speaking at a dinner in Newcastle, alongside
the film director Colin Welland. As Welland started his speech,
he picked up a mysterious heavy object, wrapped in newspaper,
and took it over to Jack. He handed this strange parcel to Jack
with the words: 'There you are, Jack. There's something you always
back to top
"Jack, looking puzzled, opened it up and there was
a bone covered with blood and some remains of meat.
"'Colin, what the hell's this?' asked Jack.
"'Derek Dougan's shin bone,' joked Welland, to uproarious
laughter. But that was the way much of the public thought of Jack.
"To be fair to Jack, he was a robust player but
never a dirty one. His offences, like his shirt-ripping against
Denis Law, were all too obvious and usually reflected an intemperate
spirit. But he was incapable of the sort of insidious, cynical
challenge that characterised other members of the Revie side.
Ian St John says he never had 'that nastiness, that villainous
outlook', while Peter Lorimer told me that Jack 'hated the dirty
players, the guys who went over the top. He would fight and compete
for every ball but he never believed in tackles that could break
someone's leg. He had his rules about how the game should be played.'
"For all his dislike of nasty play, he was not averse
to ignoring the law. Ian Storey-Moore, once of Forest and Manchester
United, says, 'He was an awkward bugger to play against, to be
honest. If you got past him, then you would pretty quickly feel
the tug of the shirt. I don't think he was too averse to bringing
you down. I think he would have many more bookings if he had been
playing today.' Jack was regularly at the centre of trouble because
of his short fuse. 'I have always been terribly fond of Jack,'
says Brian Glanville. 'But there
is a violence within him'. Again, Storey-Moore argues that, though
'Jack was not the worst of the Leeds, team, he did have a violent
temper. If someone upset him in a game, I think he would certainly
make sure he left his mark on that player.'
"In a European Fairs Cup-tie against Valencia at
Elland Road in the 1965/66 season, he went so berserk that the
intervention of the Yorkshire constabulary was required. Jack
recalls that after one corner, he was kicked on the ankle by the
Valencia left-back. 'I looked across at him. He started to run
away round behind the goal. I went after him. Next thing I was
surrounded by Valencia players. The full-back stood behind them,
cowering for protection. I had more or less calmed down when,
right from the back, their goalkeeper leaned through and punched
me straight on the mouth. As I wiped the blood away, the players
opened up and I could see the keeper a few yards away. I went
running after him but a policeman threw himself on top of me,
driving his knee into my thigh.' Not surprisingly Jack and the
full-back were sent off, while the goalkeeper, terrified of the
wrath of Jack, had jumped over the fence and hidden amongst the
spectators. At a subsequent FA hearing the referee, Leo Horn from
Holland, said that he has never seen such madness as was in Jack's
eyes that night. As Peter Lorimer puts it, 'That Valencia game
showed Jack's temper. The keeper had a choice, jumping into the
crowd or facing Jack. He chose the crowd. I would have done the
same.' Jack was subsequently fined £50 with £30 costs."
Jack Charlton in his autobiography: "I felt the
interview went well, and they seemed quite pleased with it at
the time. It was just about football, about the realities of the
game. I mentioned that if a player did something nasty or unnecessary
to me, I wouldn't forget it. His name would go down in my black
book. If the chance of retaliation came, I'd tackle him as hard
as I could. I'd kick him five yards over the touchline if I had
the opportunity. But I'd do it within the laws of the game, when
the ball was there to be played.
"Note that phrase 'within the laws of the game'.
I didn't say I'd deliberately kick the guy in the air in any circumstance.
What I did say was that if the opportunity presented itself, I'd
pay him back, in a hard but perfectly legitimate tackle. You can
be as hard as you like in the game of football. There is no rule
to say you cannot tackle as hard as you want - but within the
laws of the game, when the ball is there to be played.
"The purpose of the remark was not to shout my mouth
off about what a hard man I was. I was merely explaining some
of the professional practices prevalent in the game at the time
... But then this local reporter in the Newcastle area is invited
to a preview of the programme, takes my remarks out of context,
and puts a lot of quotes on the wire to all the news agencies
in London - things like 'Jack Charlton says he would kick a player
five yards over the touchline', 'Jack Charlton says he has got
a black book with names in it of players he will get before he
finishes his career' - quotes like that. Suddenly the tabloids
are running stories with headlines like 'Kick Jack Charlton Out
Of Football' or 'Ban This Man For Life'. All those journalists
who hated Leeds United had a wonderful opportunity to bad mouth
us. I got so much press, it was ridiculous. For about two weeks
I got pilloried in every newspaper in the world.
back to top
"None of these journalists had even seen the programme.
They didn't take the trouble to check if I had been quoted correctly.
Acting as judge and jury, they rushed to condemn me. I refused
to speak to any of them. I'd say, 'If you see the programme, I'll
talk to you. Ask the questions about the programme, but see the
programme first.' None of them could be bothered - or perhaps
they didn't want to know the truth.
"At the time, there were in the Football League
a lot of players whom the critics liked to call hard men. I suppose
I was one of them. But I was never what you consider a dirty player
- in my position I couldn't afford to be, because you can't afford
to give away free kicks near the box.
"Everybody thinks that defenders are the dirty ones
in a side. That's not true - defenders are committed to getting
the ball, that's what they're there to do. Defenders have to be
more careful, because if a defender commits a silly foul in the
box, he can give away a penalty. In fact, giving away a
free kick anywhere around the box is not likely to please the
"In my experience, it wasn't the big lads who were
the culprits. People like Tommy Smith were as hard as nails -
but they were never nasty. They usually tackled hard, but providing
the ball was there to be won and their timing was right, that
was OK. The ones you had to watch out for were the little fellows,
the ones who normally played on the wings or in midfield. They
were invariably late in the tackle, always leaving something there
for you to hit. A guy has left his foot there, and when you follow
through, you hit six studs with your shin. Let me tell you something,
it doesn't half hurt.
"Referees and linesmen follow the play, and very
often miss the incident which happens a split second after the
ball has been struck.
"There was a spell in the Football League when full-backs
were getting sent off regularly for attacking wingers. And nobody
in authority ever questioned the reason. But those of us playing
the game knew what was happening. And it had to do with incidents
like the one I've just mentioned.
"And there were other nasty ploys in the game. As
a centre-back, my job was to pick up a position for a cross, challenge
for the ball and win it. But the opposing centre-forward didn't
necessarily have to win the ball, and the number of times people
have clattered into me late with their heads or their elbows doesn't
bear recounting. You finish up with your face slashed, elbows
in your eye, fingers stuck up your nose, and so on. I tell you,
you get a few headaches. In a lot of cases, the guy hitting you
knows exactly what he's doing. It isn't accidental.
"When I first went to Leeds, I played with a lad
called Albert Nightingale. He was an inside-forward who used to
play alongside John Charles. Albert was notorious in the six yard
area. As the ball was being played into the box, he would tap
his opponent on the ankle, the fellow would howl and grab his
foot - and our Albert would be free to knock the ball into the
net. Nine times out of ten, the referee didn't spot it because
he was following the ball, but the other players knew exactly
what had happened, and I saw them chasing him around the pitch
or complaining to the ref.
"Clarkey was a bit like that. Off field he was a
great lad - but he could be a little bit sneaky, with a bit of
a mean streak in him. He would leave the boot in just a bit longer
than he should have done. It caused us loads of aggravation -
suddenly all the other side's defenders would come running after
him and we'd have to go and bail him out. Tommy Smith used to
say to Clarkey, 'I'll break your back.'
"John Giles used to do some awful things to players,
too. We would have rows about it in the dressing-room. I once
said to him, 'What do you do it for, John?' And he said, 'Well,
I once got my leg broken, and I'm gonna make sure nobody ever
does it again' meaning that he was going to 'do' everybody before
they did him. I said, 'Sure,
every bugger in the League is going to get punished because you
once got your leg broke.' But it wasn't just them, it was us he
was putting at risk. John caused us a lot of hassle at Elland
Road over the years. It was all so unnecessary, because he was
such a skillful player.
"Playing as a kid of seventeen in the Yorkshire
League had taught me that if you didn't learn how to take care
of yourself on a football pitch, you'd soon get run over. The
reality of the game at the time was that you were responsible
for looking after yourself, first and foremost, and then you looked
to the referee for protection. And watching referees' performances
these days, I sometimes get the impression that they think they
are officiating at an amateur game. They frequently miss the mean
fouls, the professional fouls. It begs the question of why more
professional players are not encouraged to become involved in
refereeing. I'll tell you why because the powers that be just
don't want to know ex-pros. The way the system is currently structured,
a guy with an uncle on the Northumberland FA or some other FA
has more chance of becoming a Football League referee than a player
with a dozen England caps. It's sometimes who you know, not what
you know, that counts.
"Sports like cricket or rugby league use former
players as officials. I think it's high time that young professional
players with no obvious future on that side of the game were encouraged
to take up refereeing. That way, a lot of the unseemly things
we see in the game today would not go unpunished, while at the
same time referees would be more understanding of the realities
of the game, having experienced it themselves as players.
back to top
"These were the sort of points I emphasised in the
Tyne Tees interview. And I confirmed that there were, of course,
vendettas. When a player's gone and nearly broken your leg, you
don't forget it. When somebody does something that is nasty, you
don't forget it. And when the chance of retribution comes, you
"Any one of a hundred players could have told the
FA that, but still I'm summoned to London to explain myself. Don
Revie and the club solicitor accompanied me. We took a tape of
the television programme with us. As a point of principle, we
refused to go to Lancaster Gate. It had to be a neutral venue
for the meeting, away from the eyes of the media.
"And the first thing which struck me when I walked
into the room was the pile of newspaper cuttings in front of the
FA Secretary, Dennis Follows. It must have been six inches high!
'I'm not having that,' I said. 'I'm not going to be judged by
the reports of newspaper people acting on second hand information.
'Don and the solicitor agreed with me. We told the FA officials
that if they wished to adjudicate fairly, they'd have to watch
the film. At that time, television evidence was inadmissible in
FA hearings. But in this instance, we weren't prepared to budge.
They sent us out of the room for almost an hour while they talked
the matter over among themselves. Eventually, we were called back
in to be told, yes, they would watch the film.
"That set a precedent
which would soon become standard. Of course, having watched it,
they could only come to the conclusion that my remarks had been
taken out of context, that I had been unfairly reported in the
"But still they insisted I apologise. 'What for?'
I asked. I hadn't done anything wrong. They'd just gone through
the television evidence and exonerated me. And now they wanted
an apology! We must've sat there for another hour discussing whether
I should apologise. 'The people who should apologise', I said,
'are the guys who wrote that pile of crap in front of you.' Anyway,
we had a little meeting outside, and Don said, 'We've got to apologise
in some way.' He said it was in my best interests to make some
kind of gesture. I'd have stayed there for ever rather than give
in to them, but eventually I agreed.
"Only Don could have got me to do that. As a manager,
he was never better to me than at that time, when I was under
a lot of pressure and I needed sound advice. He stood with me
through the whole episode - and I shall always remember him for
"What I had to do was to find a way of apologising
without admitting that I'd done anything wrong. And I remember
to this day the final statement that was sent to the newspapers,
the same newspapers which had made headlines of the story for
weeks: 'I apologise for the fact that through me, the press was
given an opportunity to knock football.' That was the apology
we sent to the press - and you can imagine where they printed
"The FA tried me, and I was found not guilty. I
was never fined, never suspended - though I'd suffered two weeks
of being pilloried and having my name blackened all over the world.
This was virtually the start of the sort of bloody journalism
we have now. If I pick up the phone and find there's a journalist
that I don't know from one of those papers on the line, I just
put the phone down.
"Unfortunately, there was no big news to take the
pressure off me. On a personal level, the 'black book' incident
earned me a reputation as someone who speaks his mind, someone
who says things when he feels it's necessary to say them. Now,
whether I've been naive in this over the years or not, I don't
know, but personally I don't think I have. I think I've come through
my career with a reputation as an honest, straightforward guy
who doesn't pussyfoot around. And I think that's the image most
people have of me.
"And the names in the book? I didn't mention any
names in the programme, and I don't really want to start mentioning
names now. As I've said, I didn't really have a black book - but
I did have perhaps five or six players in mind who had committed
nasty tackles on me and whose names I wouldn't forget in a hurry.
You always remember the names of people who have done you wrong,
you never forget them. I'd get them back if I could. But I would
do it within the laws of the game.
back to top
"A lot of people thought that Peter Osgood topped
the list in my black book, but that wasn't the case. Ossie and
me did have some good battles - but I don't remember doing anything
untoward in my duels with him and I can't recall him ever doing
anything untoward to me. The same was true of Denis Law, who's
always been a good pal of mine. I've got two or three of Denis'
shirts at home that I ripped off his back.
"Still, I couldn't say the same for Peter's Chelsea
club mate, who 'did' me in the sneakiest way possible in the 1970
FA Cup final replay when I wasn't even watching him. I haven't
caught up with him yet, so I won't give you his name. As I've
said, there was no reason for it except that I was doing my usual
thing of standing on their goal line. He got away with it at the
time, and I can assure you, that rankled for a while.
"George Kirby, a very competitive centre-forward
at Southampton, was another you had to watch out for, frequently
a split second late with the header and always liable to hurt
you. I didn't like that kind of player, and I remember walking
off at the end of a game at the Dell with a bad headache. Looking
back, they were still treating him on the pitch.
"It's more than twenty-five years since the black
book was news, and it wouldn't serve any useful purpose now to
start trotting out names. I'll give just one more example, purely
because the player involved, John Morrissey of Everton, knows
the score. We were playing at Goodison Park one day and John,
a short, stocky little lad, was on the wing. I came across to
make the tackle, he went through me, and I ended up having my
foot put in plaster after the game. I still wouldn't have given
the tackle much thought had I not encountered him again on the
way out of the ground.
"Picture the scene - my foot is in plaster, and
I'm hobbling towards the coach with the aid of a stick. He's stood
at the door asking, 'How's the leg then, big fella?' And I look
across at him and see this cynical smile on his face - and I nearly
flipped. I mean, if I could have done him then, I would have.
'I'll tell you something,' I said, 'if it takes me ten f***ing
years, I'll get you back for this.' And I did. But then he got
me back, and I got him back, and so it went on till we finished
"I suppose you could say that I was a bit short
tempered. If somebody did something to me which I thought was
unnecessary, I would react very quickly. That
Fairs Cup game against Valencia was a case in point. I was
being abused by some of the Spanish players and I wasn't having
"There was another incident, I think it was in Rome
or in Naples, when one of their guys just turned round and gobbed
in my face. I couldn't help myself; I punched him right in the
mouth, and he went down. The referee turned and saw the guy lying
on the floor - you know the way they do, rolling and holding his
face - and he ran back and looked at me as if to ask: what happened?
I didn't say anything, I just pointed to my face. He could see
the gob still there, and he said, 'OK, free kick,' and he just
left the guy lying there.
"You have these moments of madness when you let
fly or go chasing somebody all over the park after they've done
something nasty to you - until somebody grabs you and slaps you
on the face and says, 'Hey, settle down.' People forget that in
football you're 100 per cent concentrated on the game, you're
looking at the game, you're reacting to the game, your position
changes as the ball moves around - and then somebody does something
really nasty, and it snaps your concentration. That's what happened
to me in the 1970 Cup final
"It's just hypocrisy to pretend that a professional
footballer can just forget when somebody does something like that
to him. In no way, shape or form can any pro just 'forget' when
somebody's nearly broken his leg, or split his eye, or smashed
his forehead. You know in a split second if it's deliberate. And
as I've said, if you have a chance to get even later on, you take
it. Everyone in the game knew that - except, apparently, the FA."
Part 1 - Off like a train - Part
3 - Colchester, Tinkler and Fairs success - Results
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