I don't think we realise how the referees are so affected by the poisonous atmosphere on the Totally Different Planet Glasgow. (Have you noticed that referees never come from Glasgow, but from Rutherglen, Riddrie, or Pollok?) But if 50% of Glaswegians think that Glasgow is the centre of the universe, and the other 50% think it is the universe, then why should its referees be any different? Why should they even begin to think there's a more intelligent form of life beyond Shotts? And of course, if ever such a thought did cross what passes for their mind, we know what would happen to them. Bricks were put through Jorge Albertz's windows last year, so what might they do to Hugh Dallas's place if he failed to Do His Duty? I mean, how many Dallases could there be in Bonkle? No wonder he high-tailed it to Motherwell, just to get people off his scent. When Dallas didn't even wag a finger at Ross Jack in the 1995 Cup Semi-Final after the scoundrel had kicked John Robertson in the head, it was with the certain knowledge that cut-throats from Airdrie (the supporters, this time, rather than the players) would steal a bus, or a horse, or something and pay their respects to Hugh at The Ponderosa should he fail to stick it right up the Heart of Midlothian. He outshone himself that day by sending Robertson off just before the end.
It some ways it's our own fault, because Hearts folk are so damn' civilised. We come from the intellectual heartbeat of Scotland, so we want to be nice to those who've not had the benefits of a decent Scotch education. Previous readers will recall that Mr Dallas and his tribe were once contestants on Family Fortunes. (Have a wild guess if they won or not. Correct.) The quality of our Embra-based invective must be superior because we certainly get enough yellow cards for dissent. Of course, telling referees what to do doesn't count as dissent. Memorably, Bob Valentine once dismissed a popular misconception when he said "I've never had any trouble from Roy Aitken" - which is something of a coincidence, because that's exactly what Aitken said about Valentine. But it's still difficult to believe that Willie Miller once ran Scottish football, given that the last picture I saw of him was wearing a Harry Ramsden apron and wee white hat. I kid you not - he's fallen even further than giving stars out of ten in the Sunday Post. He'll be earning quite a few bob, fair play to him - and the grilled haddock's delicious.
Referees pick on Hearts because they can. They can't exert any authority over Rangers or Celtic so they'll go for the next best thing, knowing the SFA'll like that - especially since we're Embra. We do behave like a bunch of moaning tarts at times, though, which both loses us the sympathy vote and then means we start behaving like victims. There are times when you simply have to get on with it, no matter what, and once twats like Hugh Dallas realise that no amount of incompetence or bias is going to get us rattled, he might start looking at himself a bit more. What bothered me most about Sunday evening against Rangers was him booking Jackson because he hadn't got his sock pulled up in accordance with FIFA regulations. Obviously he'd failed to spot Amoruso sneakily pulling it down a minute earlier - presumably because he was forty yards away.
Er, but seriously folks, he was a lot closer when he missed a very obvious penalty before half- time, as Amoruso clattered into the back of Gary Wales before heading the ball down to Jackson, who reasonably enough had a pop with his left foot that never threatened the net. Christ, even Davie Provan thought it was a penalty. I was so tempted to throw a sharp coin at the big screen in the pub in the hope that some alchemical process of trans-substantiation would land it smack on his forehead, whereupon Hugh Dallas would fall to the earth and die. Oh well, back to the voodoo dolly.
And to totally damn him, he bottled out of sending off Steven Pressley, who scythed down McCann (and to Elvis's credit all he wanted to do was deny it was inside the box). But with the game already won, Bonkle made a noise like a chicken and gave a corner. He didn't want any more trouble.
I'd applaud referees if they did that kind of thing more often, and make decisions that are good for the individual game, but Dallas plays it by the book (remember him yellow-carding Robertson for the sly little earcup at the Hun after equalising in Xmas 97?) that to suddenly introduce discretion and common sense is something no-one's ready for - particularly as it'll be a few full moons before we see its like again. I've seen Willie Young have some terrible games in charge, but he generally looks players in the eye, talks to them, shouts at them, whatever. After Hearts had won at Rugby Park a while back (it would have to be a while back, now) I remember him dragging the celebration party back to the halfway line like a weary parent, and suddenly having to disentangle himself from being embraced in the throng. It was a nice moment, and he pretended not to enjoy it. He doesn't seem like a self-important jumped-up petty official, but a man you might actually see in a pub with a few friends. But Bonkle comes from that school of referees who only socialise with other referees: he's such an outcast that if he was ever put in jail (for crimes against humanity - Coca-Cola Final 96 for starters, and 162 other cases to be taken into consideration) he'd ask for Section 42 or whatever it is, to be put in the protected prisoner bracket along with the nonces and grasses. He wouldn't have a single friend inside - well, apart from the hundreds of Rangers fans cluttering up Scottish prisons. So I hope they give him several good ones up the jacksie, 'cause he's fucked us up the bum on so many occasions it's about time he knew what it felt like.
© Grouser Production
CC All Rights the World