Robert Neill causes Celtic protest

December 25, 1894
A meeting of the Scottish Football Association Committee was held in the Association Rooms, Glasgow, last night. Mr. Archibald Sliman, the president, in the chair. The committee considered three protests in connection with the third round of the final stage of the Scottish Cup competition.

The first was at the instance of Annabank, who alleged that Thomas Hamilton, Archibald Goldie, and James Stevenson, also played for Clyde, were ineligible. The protest was dismissed.

The Celtic protested against the Hibernians for having played R. Neill, who, they allege, took part in a charity tie for Ashfield in Glasgow on June 5th, four days after he had signed for the Hibernians.

The Celtic club also protested against Michael Murray, who had played as an unregistered professional for Johnstone against Greenock Morton on 21st August. He, however, was now registered as an amateur.

The Hibernians, in reply, held that the Celtic protest was not in order, as no formal notice had been given to the referee or opposing captain. Mr. McLoughlin understood the protest against Murray was withdrawn.

The Hibernian secretary, Mr. Sandeman, said he had not become aware that Neill had played for Ashfield on 5th June until Saturday. The Hibernians understood Neill had applied for registration on 7th June. He did not know Neill had played in the close season until he told him that night.

Neil appeared, and said he signed for the Hibernians on 1st June, and played for Ashfield on 5th June. He also played a 5-a-side match in July at Motherwell. Mr. McLean (Ayr) moved, and Mr. Brown (Third Lanark) seconded, that the protest be sustained, and that the tie be replayed at Edinburgh on Saturday.

Mr. Williamson (Mossend Swifts) moved “As the Association condoned Neill’s first offence when asked, the protest be dismissed.” They would have condoned the second offence if they had known of it. Mr. Smith (Heart of Midlothian) seconded. It was, he said, the player and not the club who should suffer.

On a vote, it was agreed by 12 to 3 to sustain the protest, and the tie was ordered to be replayed on Saturday in Edinburgh. It was decided that when Murray was reinstated as an amateur his previous professional offences were condoned, and that, therefore, a contravention had not been committed in his case.

St. Mirren protested against their tie with Dundee being awarded to that club, the allegation being that Ferrier and Gilligan played for Lochee United in a five-a-side match. The protest was unanimously dismissed, and the committee instructed the chairman to express his disapprobation of St. Mirren’s conduct in bringing forward the protest unsupported by evidence.
(Edinburgh Evening News: December 26, 1894)

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