February 10, 1960
“I just can’t hide my anger when things goes wrong.”
The F.A. Disciplinary Commission yesterday announced that Dave Hickson, Liverpool centre forward sent off in the Division II match with Sheffield United on January 16, “was guilty of misconduct and that the referee was justified in administering a caution.”
But, they say, “in view of the conflicting evidence we are not satisfied that Hickson was guilty of deliberate violent conduct for which he was sent off the field.
Now for self-control.
What a relief! The weeks of waiting are over and the decision is the one I dreamed about – there will be no financial hardship for my family and I can go on playing football, the only thing in life I care about.
I’ve been asked if this reprieve – I suppose you can call it that for, although I was found guilty of misconduct, the disciplinary commission decided I should not have been sent off – will make me turn over a new leaf.
The answer is “no” – because in fact I have been trying to steer clear of trouble for years. I’ll still be playing as hard as ever, and I suppose I shall still get my share of knocks and the same players will still try to rile me. It’s only human for them to try.
My face is my trouble. It isn’t so much what I do on the field. It’s the way I look.
For instance, when a referee gives a decision the wrong way, even if it’s in our favour, I can hardly help expressing the way I feel – surprise, anger, whatever it is.
I like fair play and fair decisions: yes, even when they go against my team. So I get very mad inside when anyone, player or referee, does anything wrong.
That’s what I have been trying to curb. Most of the time I succeed in stopping myself saying or doing anything, but it is much harder to keep a poker face.
I know that refereeing is one of the toughest jobs in the world. I wouldn’t like it myself and I know perfectly well a player is not supposed to “show dissent.”
But the expression on my face must often make a referee think that way.
Jimmy Hill, who spoke so well in my defence at the hearing on Monday, made this very point to the committee.
He told them: “I’ve seen photographs of my face taken during the game which make me look like a murderer, but an expression can’t prove anything.”
Many thought I had lost my temper during that match with Sheffield United when I was sent off, but I hadn’t. It was the ball I had lost.
My wife Irene and I jumped for joy when we heard the decision.
Irene has been as worried as I, because suspension and the loss of my wages would have made things harder for and our daughter Karen.
I admit I was afraid my record might count against me – as it has often done on the field – but it didn’t. I was given a very fair hearing.
Will I be sent off again? It won’t be my fault if I am because in the future I’m going to leave all the decisions to the referee and try to keep my face straight.
(Daily Mail: February 11, 1960)