Ten Years After: recalling McAllister’s dive, Danson’s reds and other refereeing horrors

Jake: ‘no mind-expanding drugs were taken in the making of this design’

Monsieur Salut writes: on quiet days, two thoughts cross the mind: one of relief that Sunderland are not playing, therefore cannot lose, and a second on what to put on the site to stop interest flagging. The slack times would be unimportant if our readers generally had the habit of dipping into a substantial archive of material  accumulated since Salut! Sunderland breathed its first in early 2007. They do not.

Perhaps we need to give more thought on how to make historical items attractive and easy enough to look up. We were better at this in the past, but much of the ‘furniture’, the links that appear in the sidebar column to the right as you look at this page, vanished either when the site crashed under cyber-attack a while ago¬†or when our much-missed web guru Sam later sorted out lingering problems.

Let me introduce Ten Years After, not the ancient rock band but a new category to accommodate articles from 10 years ago that may still have merit, whether because they have historical interest or because they may stir memories or simply entertain. Our associate editor John McCormick, has other ideas for doing more to alert today’s readers to what Salut! Sunderland has got up to and these will be implemented where possible.

Ten Years After starts with a piece that first appeared about but not exactly 10 years ago, ie on Feb 22 2007, and looked at some rotten refereeing decisions of what was, already in 2007, the past. I will make minor tweaks to take account of the passage of time. You may have better examples from before or since …


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Listening to whinges about a quickly taken Giggs free kick (for Man Utd) against Lille, and hearing Juninho’s scathing criticism of Mike Riley as the man in the middle for AS Roma vs Lyon, I began wondering about the worst refereeing performances I have seen in a Sunderland game.

It goes without saying that I am thinking only of matches where we were the victims of atrocious, costly decisions. I am honest enough to admit that I more quickly forget referees whose incompetence (or bad luck) helps us out.

A lot of SAFC fans will straight away point to Paul Danson, who became a hate figure after two first-half sendings off at Arsenal in 1996 turned the game into a mockery, with no SAFC attempt to venture more than a few yards into the Gunners’ half until they scored.

But only one of the red cards was wrong. Martin Scott, in all truthfulness, deserved to go for two rash tackles in quick succession.

It was the second yellow for Paul Stewart, accused of deliberately handling the ball when in fact he was flailing about in mid-air as an Arsenal defender [I think it was Steve Bould – Ed] climbed all over him, that really rankled.

Then there was Graham Barber’s amazing failure to spot Gary McCallister launch into the most blatant, if graceful of dives when tripped by Varga well outside the penalty box as we led Liverpool 1-0 at home in 2001.

Varga was the last defender and should have been sent off. He wasn’t. But Liverpool, indeed McAllister, inevitably scored from the penalty.

The free kick would have been so far out that we’d probably have survived it, giving us every chance of clinging to the lead instead of settling for a draw.

I can think of other single decisions, penalties refused to us or wrongly awarded to opponents. But I can think of only one referee to make a whole series of grotesque clangers to our detriment.

Step forward the other Graham from Tring, Herts.

Remember Mickey Gray’s sending off at the Stadium of Light in 2001, when he ran half the length of the field to offer some choice words to Graham Poll after Man Utd went one up against us?

No serious complaints about the straight red. But what led to it was Andy Cole’s utterly obvious hand ball in the build up to the goal. At the same end in the first half, a free kick had been given against Quinn for a goalmouth incident which ought to have been a penalty for us.

Wasn’t it during the same defeat by Man Utd that Poll booked Don Hutchison for the sort of quickly taken free kick from which Giggs scored at Lille? Yet Hutchison had used the trick earlier the same month, at West Ham, and the resulting goal had stood.

Much, much worse, though, was the incredible Ben Thatcher assault on Nicky Summerbee at Wimbledon in 2000. As Summerbee lay on the ground, Wimbledon swept upfield and scored the winner in a game we should at least have drawn.

Poll admitted later that he was “disappointed” to have missed the incident. Thatcher was punished retrospectively (tends to happen to him). The defeat remained unchanged.

Broadly, good and bad decisions even themselves out over a season, we are told. Poll did once disallow a perfectly good Boro goal when we won 1-0 at home. But I can think of no other occasion, at least none seen by me, when his mistake handed us points.

To be fair, and this is probably a minority view, I quite like(d) the way Poll handles(d) a game. He is fast and authoritative and a long way short of being among our worst refs.

Also, a word in defence of Riley. He may have fluttered his yellow card around as if it were a new toy he wanted to show the big TV audience. How many games really warrant 11 bookings? But he did have to put up with a pathetic amount of play-acting and scores of fouls from both Roma and Lyon players.

And I will always support officials in the more general sense that they commit many, many fewer howlers in each game than the far wealthier strikers, defenders and keepers they are there to monitor. Just don’t count on me not to join in the “Don’t know what you’re doing” chant when things go against us.

12 thoughts on “Ten Years After: recalling McAllister’s dive, Danson’s reds and other refereeing horrors”

  1. Maybe we would have a chance if Moyes sent out All the Young Dudes. Or would that, dipping into folk rock, be Farewell Farewell to all remaining hope. We’ll know Ten Years After

  2. Calling this feature Ten Years After has given me the Genesis of an idea. Will the last day of the season be a Black Sabbath where we finally plummet like a Led Zeppelin into the Championship? As we Rush down the divisions could we end up having to play a Fleetwood Match? It makes me Deep Purple with rage when I think of the greats that have pulled on the famous red and white, Elmohamady, Laslandes & Palmer for example (sorry). Let’s all try to Focus on the positive and maybe we can get out of this Jam, our Renaissance may be in sight as we strive to reach the end of the Rainbow and open the Doors to a bright future.

    • Perhaps with puns like that you should be band from this site.

      My thoughts are much more Middle of the Road and I’m not sure we’ll see Sweet Tymes ahead. I expect us to get Slade on Sunday,and I can’t see it being the Dawn of a new era. There’ll be precious little Southern Comfort for the Cockney Rebels who follow us rather than their local side.

      But what do I know? A Wizzard performance might just get us out of the Mud and suddenly the Sweet Sensation of victory will leave us all feeling Three Degrees better off. All will seem Typically Tropical as we upset the Status Quo with a Slik display of passing down the Wings and clinical finishing. Just like in the past Four Seasons we get out of the bottom three and this time it might just be the Real Thing.

      • Defeat against Man City could lead to a Hue and Cry in the stands as our chances of staying up Go West and we find ourselves in Dire Straits. City maybe nothing Special AKA and just Pretenders for the title but we won’t be breaking out the Bucks Fizz after this Clash while they will be looking forward to competing in Europe.

        Instead we will be facing the Odyssey that is the Championship (which could be a more Human League for us) instead of the Madness of the Premiership. We have been a Survivor in the past but not this year which at times has left me wondering sometimes if I am Dead or Alive. A Doctor and the Medics and all the Band Aids in the world can’t Cure my pain or the Undertones of depression.

        Sorry Bros – only Simple Minds can see us getting out of this one.

  3. David James had a shocking game that night, his kicks out of his hands went all over the place in the first 20 minutes, he was nervous as hell.

  4. I always remember Danny Dichio’s last minute “winner” being chalked off at home to Villa due to David James falling over his own defender.
    I think that came after the Man Utd game, and was part of a long string of games where ridiculous decisions costed us valuable points. If you look back, it all went downhill from that Man Utd game. That was as good as it got.

  5. Ole Gunner Solskjaer dive in the SW corner which earned the free kick which led to the goal that stopped us going top of the table in 2001.

    Manquillo’s fair shoulder charge in the last minute down in the SE corner which led to Crystal Palace beating us 3-2. Shoulder to shoulder is still legal. Mysteriously SAFC.com shows the goal but not the challenge that was deemed unfair.

    The Mag’s penalty in 2001 and Kilbane’s goal disallowed when we lost 1-0.

    But reasons to be cheerful!

    Darren Bent’s in off the beach ball.
    Collicini’s sending off and a 3-0 home win.
    Southall carrying the ball outside the box and Chris Waddle’s free kick in the last ever league match at Roker.

    Mind you both those last ones were correct decisions

  6. Please can somebody confirm this happened, I’ve mentioned it before to match-going mates but nobody seems to remember it, some of the details are a bit sketchy but….versus Luton Town, Roker End, Hughes/Tueart has a certain goal stopped by defender Chris Nicholl saving it with his hand, Hughes/Tueart then misses the penalty. No red cards for that offence in those days, Nicholl later scores and we end up drawing the game. I’ve found details of a game on October 30 1971 which fits the bill, i.e. NIcholls got a yellow card and later scored but can find no mention anywhere of the handball and missed penalty incident. I was right behind the goal when this happened and held a grudge against Nicholl for the rest of his career, booing him on every available occasion. I was the only one booing though. CAN ANYBODY ELSE REMEMBER THIS HAPPENING?!

    • No response. Maybe it was all just a bad dream. I owe Chris Nicholl an apology, nee wonder I was the only one booing!

  7. Corner at North end, Villa defender knocked his own keeper over. Mello D headed in, free kick to Villa
    Unbelievable Jeff!

    • yes! As I recall, we were rubbish – no change there – but they had 11 on the field instead of 10 and had a corner to defend in stoppage time.

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