Ian St John has three wishes for the new year


January 3, 1970
Stop acting – let the ref do his job.
It’s the start of a new decade, a time for making New Year resolutions. And as we enter the 1970s, there are three things I would like too, in Soccer. The 1960s saw the game evolve in so many ways – we had British teams winning European trophies, England winning the World Cup, for instance. So the overall standard of football in these islands must have improved.

At the same time there was the other side of the picture – hooliganism on the terraces, mob violence in the streets and on the trains. And stiffer punishments for footballers who errand on the field of play.

A man’s game.
So I would like to address a few remarks now to every professional footballer in the game. And first let me say that I accept football is a game of physical contract. So it follows that there must be times when tempers become heated, when a match erupts for a few explosive moments. And that is when the referee has to decide whether or not to take action.

I believe football should be played in a hard – but fair – manner. Like every other player, I detest seeing someone go “over the top.”

But, equally, it seems to me that there has been an increasing tendency for players to seek more than protection from the referee. Too often, for my peace of mind, players have tried to sway the referee into giving a verdict which helps them and hinders their opponents.

I don’t believe that professional footballers should go out of their way to do fellow-professionals down. And that is what it amounts to, on occasion.

A player commits a foul, or some other offence – and immediately, you see players from the other team chasing the referee and offering opinions about the sort of punishment he should dole out to the offender.

That, in my book, is wrong. We may not always agree with the verdict that the referee does give – but at least we should let him be the sole judge, and not try to act as the jury.

So – items No. 1-1 would appeal to every footballer in the game to get on with his own job – and allow the referee to do his. For professional footballers should not be concerned with getting fellow-professionals into trouble.

Time wasting.
Item No. 2-1 would like to see fewer histrionics on the field of play. If a player really is injured, and needs the trainer’s attention, fair enough. But I’m convinced that too often a player feigns injury, when he could shrug off a tackle or a bit of a bruise, and get up and carry on with the game.

You see it happen almost every week, in almost every game – and it can be construed only at time-wasting, in many cases.

Some players have got this acting the injured party down to a fine art.

They should go into the theatrical branch of the entertainment business.

So let’s do ourselves – and the fans – justice. Let’s cut out the kidding and the time-wasting. After all, the fans have paid to see as near to 90 minutes of football as possible.

Keep marching.
Finally, my wish for the next decade … I hope it’s as successful for Liverpool as the last one was. Some time within the next 10 years, I shall have to bow out, as a player. But the thought doesn’t sour me.

I’ll have regrets – of course. But time doesn’t stand still. And I hope Liverpool keep marching forward, too. If they get the same sort of consistent success as they had in the 1960s, I shall be genially pleased – yes, even if I’m not around.

This is a club with a proud record – and proud players. I’m one of them. I hope the great 60’s will become the glorious 70’s.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: January 3, 1970; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

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