DERBY COUNTY 2 CITY 1
League Division 1
3rd December 1977
City Corrigan, Clements, Donachie, Booth, Watson, Power, Barnes, Channon, Kidd, Hartford, Tueart – sub Palmer(unused)
Tony Book’s comments from the City programme 10th December 1977
I try strongly to bite my tongue and avoid getting upset at refereeing decisions that I feel are unjust. But even as I write these notes, several days after 2-1 defeat at Derby, my anger has barely simmered from what it was last Saturday when Birmingham referee Derek Civil insisted that he had blown his whistle prior to Dennis Tueart’s header hitting the back of the Derby net for what most people in the ground, and, I’m certain, all the players on the field, thought was our last-ditch equalisor.
I thought we were cheated and robbed by the referee of a result from that game.
I am not arguing over the split-second when he blew the whistle because I am sure that Mr Civil was not mistaken. Where I considered we were cheated was in the fact that he played something in the region of 20 seconds of extra time despite all the time-wasting than had gone on in the second half as Derby naturally tried to hold on tightly to the lead they had acquired.
Even the most generous timekeeper will tell you that Mr Civil did not compensate for the time that he kept threatening to add on for the wastage. The City players and supporters received short-change on the deal which Mr Civil went to pains in the half to show they would get.
There was one remarkable example of what I mean shown on the televised version of the match last Sunday. The ball had gone into the Derby crowd behind the goal as we won our second corner in succession and there was no sign of it being returned by the fans. In full camera shot Mr Civil could be seen with his arm in the air tapping his watch clearly signalling that he was going to add on time for the wasting, and whatever estimate you want to put on the incident, that ball was kept out of play by time-wasting fans for a minimum of 45,seconds. I calculated it at nearly 90 seconds.
That was only one of many incidents for which we were entitled to recompense that Mr Civil kidded us we were going to get. And yet the referee can happily admit after the match that he had played only 20 seconds extra. His judgement was diabolical.
My record will show that I have refrained from sniping at referees for most of my managerial term because I understand the difficulties of their job, and it is often possible to say things in the heat of the moment which are regretted later. But with Mr Civil I must make an exception, and for many reasons.
I was not at all happy with his handling of the game, and that is not a one-sided opinion since the same view was expressed from the the Derby camp. He appeared to be frightened of making decisions. Ironically, the one he did make at the end was the most controversial of the lot.
On a personal note entirely I just hope that it’s a very long time before he gets an appointment to one of our matches. I would not feel very confident to think he was in charge.
I had to dash on the field at the end and try to subdue my players because they were incensed. It is not very often you see calm players like Tommy Booth and Dave Watson wanting to get involved in a heated situation, but they were so staggered at the end that they were in the midst of the shouting. And when players of that nature get so clearly upset then it is wise to move in before anything unfortunate takes place.
My players were appalled at what happened, so I can gauge the feelings of the City fans who made the trip to the Baseball Ground. My sympathies were with them as well as my own staff. What a way to lose!