With technology aiding referee Felix Swayer to make the correct decision on two separate occasions in an international friendly between Spain and France last week, it has become clear that video assistance in football matches is transitioning from a discussion into a succinct reality.
While supporters will have their reservations about whether it might disrupt the flow of a game, there is no doubt that most of us will have lamented a gross injustice against our team that could only be rectified by a video replay. We take a look back at five key refereeing decisions in Scottish football history that might have benefited from a second look at the incident.
Les Mottram Blunder (Patrick Thistle v Dundee United, 13 February 1993)
Dundee United’s Paddy Connolly was denied a hat-trick by Les Mottram in a blooper that often finds itself on highlight reels of comical refereeing moments. A completely surreal set of circumstances saw the striker smash the ball home from inside the six-yard box, only for the ball to cannon back off the stanchion towards Thistle defender Martin Clark. Clark then physically handed the ball to his goalkeeper to reset play, while the United players congratulated one another and Mottram, at odds with everyone else on the pitch, waved play on. The bizarre incident did not affect the result, however, as Dundee United emerged 4-0 victors.
Neil Oliver Disallowed Goal (Falkirk v Kilmarnock, 24 May 1997)
The defender thought he had hauled his side back into the Scottish Cup final against Kilmarnock when he fired home an exquisitely controlled volley. Similar to Gerard Deulofeu’s goal against France, however, Oliver was adjudged by the linesman to have been in an offside position. While Swayer was able to check and award Deulofeu’s goal, sadly for heartbroken Bairns referee Hugh Dallas did not have the same privilege. His decision was ultimately the wrong one, and Alex Totten’s Falkirk missed what they felt was a real shot at silverware.
Charlie Mulgrew ‘Headbutt’ (Rangers v Aberdeen, 16 May 2009)
The clash between Rangers and Aberdeen has always been a heated affair and tensions were to spill over again at Ibrox with barely 20 minutes on the clock. Kyle Lafferty’s late sliding challenge on Charlie Mulgrew irritated the now Blackburn defender and saw the two players square up like school kids in a playground with no real intention of scuffling. What happened next defied belief, as Lafferty threw himself to the ground clutching his face as though writhing in pain. At a glance it might have seemed that Stuart Dougal had to order Mulgrew off but a second inspection would reveal Laffety had conned the referee. Rangers would go on to win the game 2-1, despite a galvanised Aberdeen performance and Lafferty, caught on camera winking at a teammate, would later find himself retrospectively banned.
Josh Meekings Handball (Inverness v Celtic, 19 April 2015)
As Inverness were trailing to a Virgil Van Dijk free-kick in the Scottish Cup semi-final an opportunity broke for Celtic to extend their lead. Stand-in goalkeeper Ryan Esson’s heroics saw him deny Stefan Johansen but it looked to be in vain as the ball fell kindly for Leigh Griffiths at the back post. All the striker had to do was nod home, but he was thwarted by what seemed to be a glaringly obvious outstretched arm from Josh Meekings. Remarkably the fifth official was just yards away but did not advise referee Steven McLean to point to the spot. Play continued, and so did Inverness’ Scottish Cup hopes as they managed to overturn the scoreline and win 3-2 in extra time in what was a frenetic encounter.
Wes Foderingham Handball (Rangers v Hamilton, 4 March 2017)
In the first-half of Hamilton’s Scottish Cup tie with Rangers, a lofted ball forward from Ali Crawford seemed to cause confusion between Rob Kiernan and Wes Foderingham. The centre-back had shepherded the ball to his goalkeeper who, rather than clear, rushed out at an awkward angle and landed on the ball before scooping it into his arms outside the box. Rakish Bingham, who had been pressing the pair, was completely incensed and rightly so as Foderingham ought to have been sent off for a professional foul. If video assistance was to exist in Scotland then the trajectory of this tie, one that Hamilton had started relatively brightly, might have differed completely.