Competition: First Division.
Referee: Mr R. Tinkler (
Referees rarely find many, if indeed any, friends among
football fans but one official incurred the wrath of Leeds United followers
more than any other because of the incident in April 1971. His name was Ray Tinkler and his infamy resulted from a bewildering decision
to over-rule a linesman who was flagging for a clear offside. It was a decision
which led to West Bromwich Albion scoring in a crucial match at
United, who as the season reached its climax, were
challenging Arsenal for the League championship, badly needed maximum points against
The move started near the half way line when Brown got away in midfield, with team-mate Colin Suggett clearly in an offside position. The linesman immediately raised his flag, but was over-ruled by the referee. United’s defence was largely left up-field and Brown, after a moment or two of hesitation, raced away. When a few yards from goal and approached by goalkeeper Gary Sprake, he passed the ball to Jeff Astle, who was also in an offside position, and he knocked it in the net. United’s players had stopped as the linesman’s flag went up and when the goal was allowed to stand, to a man, they passionately besieged the referee, who went through the motions of consulting the linesman but still refused to change his mind.
That set off an ugly invasion and the referee had to be
ringed by players and police against potential attack from scores of angry
protesters. Such was the high degree of ill-feeling in the crowd that many of
those who unwisely ran on the pitch in protest were from the seats of the West
Stand. And they had an ally in no lesser person than the United’s
chairman, Alderman Percy Woodward, who found it difficult to criticise them.
The Lord Mayor of
When the furore died down and the game restarted United, at 2-0 down, had a mountain to climb and though Allan Clarke pulled a goal back eight minutes from the end, the game finished in a 2-1 defeat for Leeds.
“I have never been so sick at heart”, the United manager said afterwards, “The ref’s decision on Suggett, the worst I have seen man and boy, was wrong and it wrecked nine months of hard work at our club. I regret the crowd scenes like anybody else but, by heaven, I can understand why they cut loose. Astle was also offside, in my opinion, when he took the pass from Brown to score.” added Revie, who resurrected his view that top level football should have professional referees.
Billy Bremner was as gutted as anyone at the referee’s decision, “Suggett was plain straight offside and the goal hung on that. We all stopped running. But the match got away from us” he said. Even Albion manager, Alan Ashman, had some sympathy for United “ I would have been choked to have been beaten by an offside goal like that in any match, but these things happen and we just have to swallow them” he said.
The referee smiled as he left
United had gone into this game after draws at
As for the pitch invasion and the angry protests, of course,
they achieved little other than to blacken the name of the club. The referee
made a bad decision and a costly one. However, no amount of protest by fans was
going to change it. Tinkler, however, was never to
referee United at
Mick Jones has a ‘goal’ disallowed for off-side.
Referee Tinkler was
not happy with the
The Police move in to arrest the pitch-invaders
Jeff Astle and Tony Brown, who both got on the score sheet, were also involved in the offside incident with Colin Suggett