December 23, 1915
Truth will out.
Last Easter Manchester United Football Club beat Liverpool F.C. 2-0.
The result was in accord with anticipation.
So much so that a bookmaker who had issued coupons for bets, and had offered 8 to 1 against a correct score being selected, believed the score had been “faked.” He offered a sum of £50 for information on the point, and as much as declared that some players must have put their heads together and agreed to have a score of 2-0 for Manchester.
Mr. John McKenna, English League president, and director of the Liverpool F.C. who was a spectator at the match, which was played at Old Trafford on Good Friday, April 3, 1915, immediately called for a commission into the serious allegations, that commission being composed of Messrs. H. Keys, John Lewis, and Charles Sutcliffe.
In and around Manchester rumour spread the story of the match, and the scandal was pronounced. Football has never had to face so serious a charge as this match produced, but the evidence that the League – and afterwards the Football Association – gathered was complete and conclusive. They worked very hard and over many weeks, so that no nook or corner should be missed where evidence might be found.
They even went to certain theatricals who had shown interest in football affairs, and they traveled to extreme North and South and studied points of value in the Midlands and in Staffordshire.
Why Manchester United wanted to win the match was plain: – By success they would escape the meshes of the relegation problem.
But that there should be collusion to make the game result 2-0 was the main prop on which the commission leaned. Of course, any faking of results must assuredly hinder the game’s progress and bring it to the level of other sports that have been spoilt by betting introduction.
Thus F.A. and League were keen to rid the game of its black spot, and to-day they issued their decision that will shock the football world’s huge following, but will be hailed by that following with delight in that it clear the air that has been fogged ever since the match was played.
The teams engaged in the match were as follows: –
Manchester United. – Bobby Beale, John Hodge, Walter Spratt, James Montgomery, Patrick O’Connell, Joseph Haywood, Billy Meredith, Arthur Potts, George Anderson, Enoch “Knocker “West, Joe Norton.
Liverpool. – Elisha Scott, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Pursell, Thomas Fairfoull, Phil Bratley, Donald Mackinlay, Jack Sheldon, William Banks, Fred Pagnam, Tom Miller, Jimmy Nicholl.
Of course, all the players were not implicated, and from the Liverpool point of view it is good to see that a section of the club has cleared itself before the commissioners.
Football will be a long time before it throws off the stigma that the “Scandal” match has caused; in fact, the game has not had so severe a blow before, although the suspension of nearly all Manchester City’s players years ago for breakage of the bonus rule was a pretty big affair.
The governs of football have never, and will never, countenance betting on football and they have shown by their interest in various cases of betting on results – notably in Pennington’s case at West Bromwich – that they will do all in their power to stop the evil practice.
The excuse, if such it can be called, has been made that the players were tempted into the sordid business through the belief that the war would prevent football in 1915-16, and summer wages would not be the rule. But it is too paltry a claim in connection with a grave charge, and can be ignored.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: December 23, 1915)