Fox, the referee, back at Anfield

Saturday, April 28 – 1900
Referee Fox, of Sheffield, and the Liverpool spectators, I am glad to say, have become reconciled at last, and that in a manner creditable to both sides.

They fell out over the English Cup; Liverpool thought they ought to have won it, Referee Fox decided otherwise, and ever since then they have been on opprobrious speaking terms.

I marvelled at the referee’s daring in officiating again at Anfield-road last week, especially as he is burly, and makes a good target for “snipers.”

But there he was, and dark and lowering were the looks with which he was received, and what a world of sarcasm lay hid in the apparently friendly welcome, “Good old Fox!”

It’s real meaning was – “What ho, twelfth man!”

I cannot sufficiently admire the patience with which he bore the insult, or the neat way in which he heaped coals of fire on the heads of the crowd.

Liverpool had been struggling hard all the afternoon for a goal – couldn’t get it. Time was passing – still no goal.

Suddenly a combined rush was made at Linacre; flash! The ball was in the net; bang! It was out again! “Goal!” “No, no.” Yes, it is; it is a goal by —-“ Thus the crowd.

Meanwhile the players had been flocking round Referee Fox, dragging him here and there like a fox in a pack of hounds. And now the long pent-up love of the crowd for the referee found vent in a cordial cheer.

They had managed to hide their affection for him so far, but it was with a struggle. Listen to the burst of enthusiasm. “Good old Fox!” They meant it, too, of course.

The referee seemed a bit taken aback, at first, by his sudden popularity. He made a motion to resume play, when a low growl warned him not to reject their advances to an understanding.

Then he beckoned one of the linesmen to come, at which the crowd cheered again; presently, the second linesman was summoned to the consultation – the cheers were renewed.

Finally he awarded Liverpool a penalty kick, admit a perfect tornado of applause; and when Robertson scored the winning goal it is difficult to say which was the more popular man of the two – Tom or Referee Fox.

Perhaps the reconciliation might not have been complete had Robertson failed to score, even though the referee was not to blame. But there is no use in speculating in what might have been.

I have to repeat that Referee Fox and the Liverpool public are on good terms again; the suspicious engendered by the Cup-tie hitch are seen to have been unfounded; and as the curtain descends appropriately on the happy family reunion, may I be allowed to say, “Bless you, my children!”
(Lancashire Evening Post, 28-04-1900)

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