Friday, July 6 – 1917
The hearing was resumed to-day in the King’s Bench Division of the libel action by Enoch James West, professional footballer, against the Football Association and Messrs. E. Hulton and Co., newspaper proprietors, under circumstances reported yesterday. The plaintiff also asked for an injunction restraining the association from preventing his taking part in football. The case for the plaintiff was concluded yesterday.
Mr. Rawlinson, K.C., opening the case to-day for the Football Association, said the main defence was that the statements which the Association admittedly published were true in substance and in fact. If that were so, then the comments by Messrs. Hulton were justified. Counsel said a witness on whom he placed the greatest reliance was Sheldon, the Liverpool player, whose story was that on the Monday prior to the match he squared a certain number of players of his team to arrange the result, and then he met West – who denied this – and two others at the Dog and Partridge, where they talked about the match. Sheldon told the others he had arranged the match with some of his boys, and asked them to see the other Manchester players. Each man was to do his own betting. It was arranged that Manchester should get a goal in each half. After the second goal was scored West went back, and Manchester United scored no more goals. If the jury believed Sheldon there was the end of the plaintiff’s case. Counsel also outlined the other evidence he proposed to call. The Association, he submitted, had acted honestly, and therefore their report was privileged.
Mr. Rigby Swift, K.C., for Messrs. Hulton, contended they were justified in making fair comments on a matter of public interest. The evidence of Sheldon, now in the army, was read. He said he met West and two others on the Monday before the match. At the end of 1915 he met West in Liverpool. He spoke about the case, and Sheldon told West he thought he was a fool to go on with it. Sheldon told him he was present on the Monday at any rate, and West said he was not. Sheldon said he should have to tell all he knew about it and West said, “You need not give me away.” West got ratty and said he would show them up. Cross examined, Sheldon said he did not admit West said he (Sheldon) knew he had nothing to with squaring the match.
George Anderson, the next witness, said he played centre forward for Manchester, next to West. On the Thursday previous, he, West, and another met Sheldon, who asked if it was still to be two to none. West said, “Oh, yes, I have written to Nottingham for £70 to £10. Some time after the match West spoke to him on the training ground, recalling his bet adding, “I am not afraid. They cannot get evidence against me.” Cross examined, witness said he did not play straight because the match had been arranged.
Fred Pagnam said he played centre forward for Liverpool. Going to the ground Sheldon told him the match had been arranged, Manchester to win two to none, each player to receive £3.
Ephraim Longworth, captain of the Liverpool team, said he heard on the ground that the match was squared, and said he would have nothing to do with it. At half-time he was told his team would have to play or there would be a bother. The ball was kept on the left wing where West and Sheldon were playing. There was no reason for West to keep kicking the ball out. Witness said the match was squared.
The jury intimated that they had, decided that the match was squared.
(Derby Daily Telegraph, 06-07-1917)