The power of a referee


Monday, January 9 – 1922
A curious incident happened last week in the course of the League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool at St. James’ Park. The details of the encounter, which was drawn, do not concern us beyond that there were accusations of wasting time against each team when they were battling against a big wind.

In the second half, the referee Mr. F.J. Proctor, of Trentham, went to the Liverpool captain, Ephraim Longworth, complained of time being wilfully wasted, and said that unless he desisted he should order him off the field.

Longworth, who has played all these years and never even been called to order, was very much disturbed by such a warning. He contended that he was not frittering time away, that all his goal-kicks had been sent into the field of action. Longworth was so hurt that his club manager enquired of the referee why the player had been cautioned.

The interesting point arises: Has a referee the power to either warn or send a player off the field if he did wilfully consume time? The only difficulty that the Liverpool player had was to keep the ball from moving, from being blown along the ground, when placed for a goal-kick.

The instructions to referees say: “The kick must not be allowed if the ball is on the move while it is being taken.”

Law XIII. declares: “The referee shall allow for time wasted, lost through accident, or other cause.” And it also says he shall “act as timekeeper.” But nowhere does a rule say that the wasting of time, even if that were admitted, and it was not, could possibly be constructed as “ungentlemanly behaviour.” To do so savours of stretching the rule.

The referee’s remedy was surely to allow for any time that might have been wasted and prolong the game accordingly – quite a serious punishment with the possibility of scoring.
(The Athletic News, 09-01-1922)

Ephraim Longworth, Liverpool F.C.
Ephraim Longworth 1915

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