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FOOTBALL.

fcTHE WELLINGTON-OTAGO MATCH. Under the sensational headings of 'Disgraceful Conduct of Danedin Barrackers' and 'The Wellington Men Pelted and Harried m the Street,' the "special" of the Wellington «Post' telegraphed to his paper : The treatment of the members of the Wellington team at the conclusion of Saturday's match was disgraceful. Several of the team and the referee (Mr Garrard), while waiting to be driven trora the ground, were struck by stones and mud hurled by the infuriated mob. Similar treatment was meted out when the players subsequently made their appearance in the streets. Everywhere they were greeted with cries of "Slaughterm??v * Wellington butchers !" and other choice epitnets. There was great excitement in Dunedm on Saturday night, when M'Kenzie (captain) o"?im Tn? lay ? r ? we , re Allowed by a mob of over 2,000. Ultimately the party had to escape from tho crowd by the back way of a hotel.

The .".barracking" cannot be gainsaid, but it was by no means general. The attack on the referee was unjustifiable and confined to a band of hoodlum's, as we pointed out oh Monday. The bulk of the spectators of the game took no part in the one and wholly disapproved of the other. But the 'Post's' special, had he been an impartial witness, would not have failed to have testified that M'Kenzie began the roughness we have felt it our duty to condemn unequivocally; that others of his team quickly followed the oue given by their leader ; and that Hardcastle made a pitiful exhibition of himself by leaving the ranks of the forwards and attempting to argue the matter with the crowd. That strong epithets were applied to some of the Wellington players both during the progress of the match and in the streets afterwards is beyond question, but the great majority of the supporters of football here cannot be held accountable for such displavs of feeling on the part of a comparative few—mostly small boys—who are always noisy and demonstrative' on such occasions. It is a gross exaggeration to say that a mob of 2,000 followed M'Kenzie (captain) through the streets at night. What "excitement" there was was produced by the strange behaviour of M'Kenzie himself. His conduct and dress were so extraordinary, under the circumstances, that it could hardly be wondered that tho hoodlums gathered about him wherever and whenever he appeared in the streets, and it was plain to demonstration that he was " spoiling for a fight " Perhaps his Union might find it interesting to ascertain whether his behaviour was becoming to a gentleman or the captain of a representative team. The same paper, on the authority of its "special," declares that during the after, dinner speeches on Saturday nieht " Mr Gallaway, president of the Otago Union, and its officials spoke in strong terms of the disgraceful conduct of the public, and expressed great regret for what bad occurred. There was, they said, not the slightest ground for stigmatising the play as rough." We have made inquiries from several persons who were present, and they assert unhesitatingly that by no stretch of language could the remarks of the president of the local Union, or of any of his confrires, possibly bear the construction that haß been put on them. Mr Gallaway certainly did say inter alia that it was better that players should leave their differences on the field of play, but. not a syllable was said by anyone of the Otage Union's officials as to the manner in which the match had been contested. It would have been obviously outcf place at a function of that sort to have given expression to sentiments that might have caused offence to either side. It is, however, childish to attempt to ascribe, as has been done, the comments of the Dunedin Press to chagrin at the loss of the match. For our part, we have acknowledged that the better team on the day won, and we were not at all surprised at the result.

More than one correspondent has asked us whether the Otago Union officials could not have interposed and taken measures to stop the roughness of the play when it became apparent that the " laying'out" of the Otago backs was the purpose to be accomplished. We reply in the negative. The conduct of a game is absolutely in the hands of the referee, and if that official cannot or will not see clear infractions of the rules taking place, or is oblivious to the presence of influences that should be absent from a wellregulated football field, no one has the right to interfere. We hold firmly to our opinion that Mr Garrard was primarily responsible for all the mischief on Saturday.

It is passing strange that though the authorities of the Wellington Union discredit the idea of the Wellington team playing roughly every match of the present tour has possessed that unsatisfactory feature. Thus "Touch-line" in the Invercargill 'News' on the WellingtonSouthland match:—"l have no hesitation in saying that the match in question was the roughest ever witnessed on the local ground, the fault invariably being with the visitors. From start to finish the Northerners pursued this course, and the spectators, who are usually fair to visiting teams, were, in consequence, very much against them, and gave no encouragement for some of their really brilliant play. The winners stated af ler liie game that they considered it a quiet one, and nothing like what takes place in cup matches in Wellington. If that be so, football, as played under the eyes of the lauded New Zealand Union at their headquarters, stands in need of thorough reorganisation. So knocked about were the local men that had they had another engagement within three days, as was the case with their opponents, more than half their number would not have been fit to take the field. Besides roughness the winners are also to be censured for the amount of pointing they indulged in, such as knocking the ball on and playing off-6ide intentionally, and also tackling men who are not in possession of the ball." It may prove of interest to state that the Wellington reps have this season been bsaten by Auckland (11 points to 4), Wairarapa (3 to nil), and have defeated Canterbury, Southland, Otago, and Taranaki. A curious coincidence about their South Island wins is that they have in each case defeated Canterbury, Southland, and Otago by the agency of goals from the field, two potted and one penalty goal. The Wellington team were entertained at .luncheon on their return from the South yesterday. They deny that there was any unusually rough play in the Dunedin match; They merely played their usual hard forward game, and none of the hurts received by Otago players were wilfully done. The only time, they say, the referee found it necessary to interfere was when an Otago player was roughly handling the Wellington captain. Mr Firth, who is well known in the football world for his judicial bearing in these matters, in a letter of apology for his absence from the luncheon, said: " After seeing the men play in the match at Christ- I church I find it impossible to believe the reports of rough play alleged against the team at Dunedin. lam forced to conclude that a beaten town has attributed to them brutal play in mistake for the fast, dashing rushes by which they have so distinguished themselves."

The Canterbury representatives will arrive in Dunedin by the North express this evening. Mr M'Robie, of Invercargill, will act as referee in the match between Canterbury and Otago on Saturday. The Southland team for the match against Canterbury on the 22nd will be :—Back, H. Murphy ; three-quarter backs—Bain, Man. son, Hirat; half-backs Ward, Jenkins, M'Robie; forwards—Anthony, Anderson, Dennis, Grenfell, Lennie, Murphy, Purdue' : Walah. '

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18970916.2.31

Bibliographic details

FOOTBALL., Issue 10421, 16 September 1897

Word Count
1,300

FOOTBALL. Issue 10421, 16 September 1897

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