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THE WELLINGTON-OTAGO MATCH.

[Special to the Star.]

| WELLINGTON, September 17. | Unusual interest is being manifested over last Saturday's interprovincial match at Dunedin, and knots of enthusiastic footballers mrot at tho street corners to vigorously discuss the pros and cons of this now much-talked-of and celebrated contest. The general public are beiug roused to an unusual degree of feeling by the correspondence appearing in the pipers bearing on the alleged rough play of the local representatives and the disgraceful treatment meted out to tlutft at the hand's of the Dunedin spiC» tators. The flame has been furl her fanned by the special telegram from Dunedin which appears in to-night's ' Evening Post.' It is unanimously declared hy the members of the Wellington team as entirely misleading, and they characterise the statement as to M'Kenzie's rough play as entirely incorrect, and they further assert, that if any improper play were exhibited the Otago players—particularly a prominent forward—were the aggressors. It is noteworthy that on this occasion the referee felt justified in exercising his powers. They unreservedly deny the accusatiou levelled at the Wellington captain that his conduct was accountable for the demonstrations made against him and the other members of his party on the evening in question. Several Otago footballers quietly informed the Wellington players to keep a good lookout, as mischief was brewing, and it required very little fuel to fan it into a big flime. The suggestion that the Wellington Union should institute an inquiry in'o M'Kenzitws conduct has greatly tickled the minds of the football community, tho ridiculous nature of such a proposal being only too apparent. As to Hardcastle's alleged "pitiful exhibition in leaving the ranks of the forwards to argue with the crowd," it is perhaps not generally known that he was impelled to that course by a string of filthy epithets personally addressed to him by two of the spectators. His action, in which the honor of his parents was questioned, may have been an unwise one ; but under such circumstances a less hotheaded player would have felt justified in resenting it. The whole of the Wellington team are prepared to substantiate the paragraph in tho Wellington papers re Mr Gallaway's re= marks, as they were capable of no other interpretation, as was quite comprehensible to thcmind of the dullest-headed listener. This also applies to Mr Campbell's remarks. The Wellington team desire it to go forth that before the dinner Mr Gallaway, accompanied by Mr Torrance, sought the manager of the Wellington team's room and apologised on behalf of the Otago Union and the Otago team for the disgraceful conduct of the mob at the conclusion of the match. It is here considered strange that the Dunedin newspapers omit all reference to this matter, as well as to the fact of the players being assaulted by stones, mud, and missiles of various descriptions. Why was no acknowledgment made, asked the loc*! football community, of M'KeDzie's generous though ill-advised action in allowing Pell to replace Macdonald at a critical stage of the game, and they also seek information on the subject. Feeling is very strong here over the treatment of the Wellington players, and that feeling is accentuated by the special telegram in to-night's 'Post. 5 In some quarters it is urged to carry out reprisals when the Otago team next visit Wellington, but the grand treatment of the visitors by the Otago Union and the Otago players disarms all fears on this head, and the Southerners miy rely on getting a royal welcome of the heartiest description when they next set foot in the Empire City. There is no doubt that the Otago public were greatly chagrined at the result, they fully anticipating Wellington's defeat. Their keen disappointment was only too plainly demonstrated by the Dunedin writer*' strong feeling of resentment, which is being made use of against the local representatives, and which is quite undeserved, and calculated to sow seeds of dissension and ill-feeling amongst the players of both provinces. Further will be heard of the matter, as the local Union will be approaohed on the question. [The defence by our "special" of the conduct of M'Kenzie and Hardcastle is lame in the extreme. The reader of the above must smile at the dißiDgenuousness of Wellington's apologist, who, beginning by ridiouling the Mc* that there is anything to inquire about, admits at the finish that the Wellington Union will be obliged to take official cognisance of the proceedings of Satu day. If the Wellington Union do their duty we have little fear that the comments of the Dunedin Press will be supported up to the hilt by unimpeachable independent testimony.—Ed. E.S.]

" Tom Sayers" makes this contribution to the discussion:

-.J ,£ av ? re ?, 4 what vou have to sa y about the Wellington-Otago football match, ami in the main I think you take a sound view of the case. But why should you be so hard upon the hoodlums ? Answer me that squarely and consistently if you can. I hope you will admit that I am a respectable citizen. I have not been in the police court, or filed my schedule, or anything of that sort. I enclose my card, and if a gentleman who has a card (and a card case some where if he could only lay his hands on it) is not a respectable citizen, who is V But respectable as I am, and law-abiding and all that, I cannot quite see what those spectators were to do who were not saints in the deplorable circumstances in which they found themselves on .Saturday. The spectators went there, no doubt, well enough disposed towards everybody, desiring only to see a good game, with a fair field and no favor. I was at the match on the previous Saturday, wheu Otago met Southland and got beaten. Ninetenths of those on the ground wanted Otago to win—as I did myself-badly. But there was no exhibition of hostile feeling that could have been perceptible to the most sensitive person. Nor has it ever been the way of Otago spectators, up to this time, to bully visiting teams.

On Saturday last, however, tlio Otago barrackcrs, usually well-behaved, lust control of themselves. Very deplorable and reprehensible as you say. I quite agree with you, if you put it as an abstract moral question. So it is to say « n—a word which I never use myself except in its proper and respectable sense ; though there are occasions when I not merely consider the word justifiable in any sense whatever, but when I should be glad to have someone (who did not consider it a sin) to say it for me. It is wrong, of course, to lose one's self-control. But what would you have done, pray, in the circumstances if you had been a hoodlum? "Vou have a set of brutes calling themselves a football team, who, according to a v\ elhngton paper (no bad authority in this case, you will allow), deliberately prepare themselves by regular practice for " laying out their man l ' in the football field. They come down here to play a friendly match with players who have been carefully schooled to know that brutal play will not be tolerated ; and with malice aforethought they proceed to "lay out their men." One after another some half dozen of the Otago meu are more or less disabled. The referee cannot or will not see what is going on under his nose. What is an outraged crowd to do under the circumstances? Candidly, now, what do you expect a crowd to do when they see such blackguardism on the field unchecked by the referee? What would the crowd in Wellington do in similar circumstances, or in Aucklaud or Christ«hurch ? Endure it all patiently, I suppose? Huzza when the visiting team scored by their questionable tactics ? And afterwards escort the referee who "didn't see" to his hotel? I have discussed the matter with football experts who would not favor their own brothers in a match, and they have only one thing to say about the Wellington play of Saturday—that it was a degrading and brutal exhibition. Such was the indignation of the crowd, I am told, that it wanted but a feather's weight to make them rush the field and sweep the " butchers " off the ground. lam glad I was not there, because I weigh considerably more than a feather.

I was not there, you will observe; I was elsewhere. And this, they tell me, gives uio a special right to pronounce on the merits of the case. You,, who have my pasteboard, know well my judicial bearing in such matters, and I should lute to say that after seeing our men play in the

match against Southland I find it impossible not to believe the reports of rough play alleged against the Wellington men at Dunediu. I am forced to conclude that " the dashing rushes bj; which they have so distinguished themselves" is a pretty Wellington name for "unsportsmanlike brutality.".

A word of prophecy before I close. This outrage against the ethics of football is so scandalous that it can hardly be ignored, even at headquarters. The New Zealand Union will no doubt " hold an inquiry." It is even probable that the Wellington players will "dtmand an inquiry"—the wisest thing they can do, for the New Zealand Union will graciously accede to so reasonable a demand, will proceed to " take evidence," and our prizefighting friends may rest comfortably assured that they will leave the court without a stain on their precious characters.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18970918.2.2

Bibliographic details

THE WELLINGTON-OTAGO MATCH., Evening Star, Issue 10423, 18 September 1897

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1,592

THE WELLINGTON-OTAGO MATCH. Evening Star, Issue 10423, 18 September 1897

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