Thursday, January 04, 2007

Talking of Mendes' 'Goal'

A Final Thought on that Mendes ‘Goal’
[Things do even themselves out - eventually!]
Article for CaDD – April, 2005

Eddie Baily Goal Wrongly Awarded Against Huddersfield in 1952
The old football adage goes that ‘things even themselves out over the course of the season.’ In many cases this will be true – close calls for off-side, a goal given or disallowed or a penalty awarded for or against. However, this season Spurs have suffered on a number of occasions with decisions that have obviously gone against them but as yet with eight games remaining there has been no sign of similar harsh decisions going in their favour.

The Mendes ‘goal’ at Old Trafford is the obvious one, harsh penalties were conceded at home to both Chelsea and United and at Bolton, but two obvious penalties were missed in the Cup defeat at Newcastle. All of these awards affected the outcome of the games, depriving Spurs of points in the League as well as possible Cup progress. If we accept the common view that such occurrences balance out during the season then Spurs are in for a very productive climax to the season.

A goal at Highbury awarded before the ball goes into the penalty area because the referee was certain it would beat the goalkeeper or a penalty when Kanoute is tripped near the corner flag because he fell so gracefully or a referee will take pity on Defoe and give a penalty because the defender looked as if he was going to trip him, these would help to balance out the injustices that have befallen Spurs this year. Sadly, such occurrences are unlikely.

Perhaps, in the case of Mendes disallowed goal, the wrong will not be righted in a season – it might be more like a lifetime. Having supported Spurs for forty years I can not recall any occasion when something similar occurred either for or against Spurs. However, just three months before I was born Spurs benefited greatly from a referee making a serious mistake.

On Wednesday afternoon, 2nd April, 1952 Spurs were at home to Huddersfield Town who were bottom of the table fighting against relegation while Spurs as defending Champions were in fourth position. The game attracted the lowest attendance of the season, 22,396 and was playing out to an uneventful and dull scoreless draw when Spurs were awarded a corner in the final minute. The referee took up a position nearer the corner flag than the goal and when Eddie Baily took the kick the ball hit the referee and rebounded to him. Baily immediately played the ball a second time, putting in a cross which Len Duquemin headed into the Huddersfield goal. The referee awarded a goal which brought uproar from the Huddersfield players and officials but even after consulting the linesman, the referee stood by his decision.

The referee had made a serious mistake as Baily should not have played the ball twice without another player touching it. Huddersfield should have been awarded a free-kick from the position where Baily played the ball for the second time.

At first, the Huddersfield players refused to re-start the game but there was no mass harassment of the referee and although everyone knew there had been a mistake the result had to stand. In the next programme, Spurs commented on the incident, ‘The referee’s decision is final, and even if we have been the gainers in this instance there have been previous cases in which we have been the sufferers.’

At the end of the season Huddersfield were relegated by three points and while the point they lost that day did not relegate them mathematically, an extra point from that game may have inspired the players to greater efforts in the final six matches of the season. Spurs went on to finish second behind Manchester United and ahead of Arsenal on goal difference so Spurs managed to put one over their North London rivals as a result of that game.

Many people accused Roy Carroll, the United goalkeeper, of not admitting that the ball had crossed the line but on that day in 1952 the Spurs team included such well respected players as Bill Nicholson, Ron Burgess, Eddie Baily, Len Duquemin and Sonny Walters but none of them suggested to the referee that he had made a mistake. In football you have to take what you get and take the rough with the smooth.

The consequences of the Mendes ‘goal’ are still unknown – will Spurs miss out on the financial bonanza of Europe by two points, will they be unable to attract top quality players because they can not offer European football, will Mendes who would have become an overnight hero at the club quietly return to Portugal at the end of the season or will technology be introduced to assist officials in these decisions? Only time will tell but it would be good to see Spurs getting some of the close decisions going their way in the important games in the coming seasons.

Seven years on those questions can be answered - and all responses are in the negative. The non-goal didn't have any bearing on Spurs position and Europe in 2005.  Technology was talked about in the immediate short-lived aftermath of this game and in spite of further errors by referees including England's defeat by Germany in the EWorld Cup Finals, they are no nearer using technology to assist the officials.

Spurs have suffered quite frequently this season, 2011 - 12, as they make a title and Champions League challenge.  Emmanuel Adebayor had had three goals disallowed for offside when clearly onside and the decisions affected the result of the match, referee Foy had a nightmare at Stoke costing Spurs their unbeaten record and the crucial game against Manchester City was decided by a last minute penalty, won and scored, by a player who should have been sent off for dangerous play and has since been suspended for four matches which is of no benefit to Tottenham who now find themselves eight points adrift of City at the top of the Premier League table.


No comments:

Post a Comment