Alleged offer to bribe footballers


January 31, 1919
The charge of unlawfully giving £1, and offering £15, to Douglas Thomson, a member of the Millwall football team, was again before Mr. Garrett, at Bow Street this afternoon, when Harry Thatcher otherwise G. Wilson, a commission agent, of East Dulwich, appeared on an adjourned summons under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The allegations are that the defendant gave £1 each to Thomson and another member of the team and £60 to be divided between them and two other players, to lose the match between Millwall and Chelsea.

Richard William Griffiths, of New Barn Street, Plaistow, a member of the Millwall team, said that on December 13, the day before the match between Millwall and Brentford, the defendant who was a stranger to him, called at his house, and invited him out to have a drink.

In the course of the conversation, in the bar of a public-house, the defendant said: “I have £50 on the game to-morrow, and if Millwall win, it will do me a good turn. Here’s a quid now, and I will give you three more next week.”

Witness asked why he should offer him money to win, and said: “We are always out to win.” To this the defendant retorted: “I have not asked you to anything wrong, have I?” “No,” replied the witness, “but you will do so. You may come to me and ask me to do something ‘on the cross’ one day.” Well, when I offer you £15 or £20 to lose a match, you will have time to talk,” replied the defendant, at the same time pushing a £1 Treasury note inside the waistcoat of witness. Witness reported the matter to his association.

Mr. Tom Thorne, chairman of the Millwall Football and Athletic Club (Limited), produced the article of association, and said the club paid £1 a week to their players. Thomson and Griffiths both reported to him what had taken place between them and the defendant, and the police were the communicated with.

Sir. E. Marshall Hall, K.C. (cross-examining):
“As a matter of fact, in the Millwall – Brentford match, Brentford were the favourites in the betting?”
“- I don’t know.”

“Do you bet?”
“- Never.”

“Not even a modest ‘tanner’?”
“- No,” (laughter.)

“Do people bet on football matches?”
“- I am sorry to say some do.”

“And you really didn’t know what the betting was?”
“- No.”

Police-Sergeant Crawley said he saw the defendant and Thomson at Westminster Bridge. He spoke to them, and defendant said:
“We have just been having a talk on football. You cannot say anything wrong has been done. I have not asked him to lose, only to win.”

When asked for his name and address, defendant said:
“George Wilson,” but he later admitted that it was Thatcher, but that the address was correct.

The defendant, in evidence, denied that he had ever offered, or given money to either Thomson or Griffiths. He had a bet of £62 10s. to £80 on the result of the match, Millwall v Brentford, and mentioned this to Thomson, and gave him £1, and also promised him £3 if Millwall won.

He asked for the address of another, and Thomson gave him Griffiths’ name and address.

Defendant was sentenced to three months in the second division. Notice of appeal was given.
(Yorkshire Evening Post: January 31, 1919)

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