Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fighting talk

The Guardian's Joy of Six series this week features footballing brawls.

Always enjoyable to hear David Coleman's outraged reaction to Chile v Italy at the 1962 World Cup. A fine example of the British officer class coming face to face with the Latin temperament and ending up completely scunnered.

Celtic's Intercontinental Cup battle with Racing Club makes the list. This was the game that denied Jock Stein a knighthood and which, oddly enough, inspired this piece of poetry:

The playoff game in Montevideo
Was not a game for the heart & soul,
As Racing Club took to an act of war,
Were the referee lost all control,
The game started of quite smoothly
Until Johnstone got the ball
And the Uruguayans, who sat as neutrals,
Saw murder in every tackle.

Racing Club knew every trick
As Celtic learned from every kick,
A frustrated Johnstone took an early bath
Using his elbow as a weapon, he received the red card.
Then Lennox got his marching orders
That the referee could not explain,
And then the dismissal of big John Hughes
Left Celtic down to 8 men.

Big Tommy Gemmell, who scored in Lisbon,
A man who played with pride,
Lost control and chased a Racing player
And put his boot up the Latin player’s backside.
A 1-0 game was won by Racing
With Cardenas scoring the winner,
The Argentine’s drank cheap wine
And celebrated in Buenos Aires.

The Celtic squad returned back home
Their pride was black and blue
A fine was imposed on the red card offenders
Who took part in the Montevideo duel,
But as the headline later read
From the magazine, Miroir du Football
It proclaimed “Racing Club of Buenos Aires,
Champions of Violence, Treachery and Theatricals.

Graeme Souness has probably never been considered for a knighthood but he did instigate my own pick of the Scottish football brawls when his competitive debut as player-manager of Rangers lasted all of 35 minutes at Easter Road. He has since admitted that this was his most humiliating moment in football as he sparked a mass brawl and had to do the walk of shame in his home town.

The odd thing is that Souness got the wrong man. He was after Stuart Beedie but it was George McLuskey's thigh that was left scarred by the mustachioed one's studs.

So what's your own most infamous football fight?