by Stuart Moriarty-Patten
UEFA’s decision to slap Nicklas Bendtner with a 100,000 euro fine and a one match ban following his illicit advertising in Euro 2012 when he hitched up his shirt to reveal his underpants with a bookmaker’s name on them, is just one of many examples of the authorities dishing out punishment on not just players, but referees and fans too throughout the history of the game. Below are just five:
Suspended for inciting a riot
In 1888, during the first ever season of the football league, the Everton footballer Alec Dick received a suspension that effectively ended his career. During a game against Notts County, Dick reportedly hit a member of the opposing team in an act which the Sporting Chronicle described “as an act of ruffianism”. However Albert Moore, the Notts County player was uninjured and the referee saw no reason to take any action. The crowd differed though and, having been angered from further rough play from the Everton team, rushed onto the pitch after the final whistle and made their way over to Dick who received what was described as a severe wound to the head from a blow with a heavy stick. Later, for inciting the crowd, the Football league saw fit to suspend Dick for the rest of the season, a punishment that was described by the previously critical Sporting Chronicle as outrageous. Alec Dick never played for Everton again.
Riding a bicycle without lights
Duncan Edwards is still considered by many to be one of the finest players ever to have worn a Manchester United shirt until he sadly lost his life in the Munich air disaster of 1958. His reputation however didn’t stop Manchester United penalising him two weeks wages in 1955 for besmirching the club’s good name after he was fined 5 shillings for cycling home without lights after the derby against Man City.
The white line sniffing Robbie Fowler
Despite being one of Liverpool’s greatest all-time centre forwards Robbie Fowler will probably be remembered in the wider football community mostly for his goal celebration after scoring a penalty against Everton in 1999. After repeated rumours of illicit drug use, and chants about it from the Everton fans, Fowler celebrated by getting on all fours and made out he was sniffing the white line of the pitch in a manner suggestive of someone doing a line of cocaine. Despite manager Gerard Houlier saying Fowler was actually imitating a cow eating grass in a Cameroonian celebration he had learned off team mate Rigobert Song, he received a £60,000 fine from Liverpool, and a 4 match ban from the FA.
Referees can get into trouble with the authorities too. In a Belarus Premier Division match between Vitebsk and Naftan the referee’s antics were enough to cause some alarm. Sergie Shmolik, who, having refereed international games and being voted Belarus’ finest referee in 2007, had a fine reputation until this point, apparently spent much of the game staggering around the centre-circle, making no attempt to keep up with play. At the end of the game he was helped off the pitch by another official, waving cheerily to the crowd as he left. Such was the concern over his behaviour that he was rushed to hospital where tests found he had consumed a tremendous amount of alcohol.
Shmolik got a suspension, but the Belarus FA insisted his bizarre behaviour was due to a bad back in a desperate attempt to whitewash the incident.
Sick as a parrot
The final suspension story involves not a player but a supporter in the shape of a parrot. Me-Tu belonged to Irene Kerrigan who used to take him to help support her local team Hertford Heath. In a crunch game in 2009 in the Hertfordshire Centenary Trophy quarter final tie against rivals Hatfield Town, Irene and Me-Tu took their position in the ground along with 150 other supporters to watch an uneventful first half that ended 0-0. In the second half, obviously unimpressed with the entertainment on offer, Me-Tu decided to make his own by not only repeatedly squawking “who’s a pretty boy”, but also imitating the sound of the referee’s whistle.
With the players getting confused, and repeatedly stopping when they though they had heard the refs whistle, the referee was driven to ask Irene and her parrot to leave. The parrot was subsequently reported to have been given a lifetime ban from the ground.