Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Now that’s a controversial fight! (2011)

In the first twenty years of Rugby League’s existence, there had been some insanely erratic decisions regarding player suspensions and the like for their discrepancies and misbehaviour.

In 1917, Glebe’s Dan Davies played a game against Annandale which Glebe won. Glebe attempted to lie about his place of residence but a complaint by Annandale, who Davies should have been playing for according to the residential rule at the time, saw Glebe stripped of their two competition points for the win against Annandale.

The NSWRL suspended Davies indefinitely, as this was the first intentional breach of the residential rule they had to determine a penalty for Glebe’s and Davies’ deception. In a later game that year, three Glebe players were dubiously suspended. The NSWRL penalised Glebe by moving their top of the table match against neighbouring rivals Balmain, from the Sports Ground, where gate takings would be very high, to the significantly smaller Birchgrove Oval.

Incensed by the decision, Glebe’s first grade team went on strike. Balmain flogged Glebe’s second string side and the NSWRL suspended all the Glebe players until 1918. Dan Davies, for his earlier indiscretion, was banned for life.

Davies returned to his hometown Newcastle and started playing again. When the NSWRL found out, they banned nearly all the Newcastle competitions’ players and administrators for life. A decision they reversed when a rebel code in Newcastle began shortly after.

In 1923, one of the fairest players of the game, Duncan Thompson, was charged with kicking a player in the face. Spectators and media sided with Thompson. But despite never being involved in any unsportsmanlike behaviour previously, the NSWRL suspended him for the rest of the year. After appealing the charge the NSWRL shortened the suspension. Thompson dissatisfied and insulted, left Sydney and moved to Toowoomba, never playing in Sydney again.

Then there’s the flip side.

August 11, 1928 – the equal first St.George took on the equal last Balmain in a spirited encounter at Arncliffe’s Earl Park.

From midway through the first half the game was littered with spiteful clashes, scuffles, foul play and cheap shots. An alleged elbow by St.George forward George Carstairs broke Balmain’s Tony Russell’s’ nose midway through the first half.

Referee Mick Brannaghan did nothing.

In a scrum late in the first half, St.George’s Arnold Traynor reeled out of a scrum with blood freely flowing from his nose.

During the second half, Russell kicked Carstairs in the face while the latter was picking himself up from a tackle to play the ball.

Referee Mick Brannaghan did nothing.

Later, a scuffle between two players saw Harry Flower from St.George intervene to help out his team mate. Surprisingly, after much serious incidents had lead to cautions or no action at all, Flower was sent off.
The crowd went from frustrated to furious.

With five minutes remaining in the game, Russell again kicked Carstairs in the head knocking him unconscious, this time nowhere near the action.
Former Test player turned touch judge, Charlie Hedley, ran onto the field to inform the referee of the incident.

Referee Mick Brannaghan did nothing.

The crowd was incensed, yelling out “We want Russell!”

As fulltime sounded an end to the atrocious play, Balmain’s George Bishop set after Traynor.

St.George coach, Frank Burge and Secretary Reg Fusedale ran onto the field to assist the unconscious Carstairs.

The crowd had seen enough and they spilled onto the ground, practically following Burge and Fusedale. Some spectators ripped off fence palings and made a bee-line for Russell. There was even one spectator allegedly seen with an axe!

Police at the scene, used batons, handcuffs and their fists to rescue Russell and rush him to the dressing room.

He was then taken to an ambulance suffering injuries to his face, back, ribs, arms and legs. He allegedly met a revived Carstairs and they began fighting before the ambulance driver intervened.

The NSWRL announced a full inquiry into how the riot happened and what penalties needed to be delivered. In the most confusing decision yet, the NSWRL blamed the fans for the riot and no reason to punish any of the players.

Russell declared he accidentally kicked Carstairs with the side of his boot as he stepped over him, while Carstairs, unsurprisingly, couldn’t remember what happened.

After that day of violence and rioting, the most amazing words came from the seemingly oblivious official, Mick Brannaghan.

"It was one of the cleanest games I’ve ever refereed."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.