One of those times that comes around periodically – alas – in the Scottish game and forces the football to take a back seat is with us again. No classic was served up at Paisley on Saturday. However, there was sufficient intrigue for it to deserve being more than reduced to a sideline.
Yet, that is what Rangers’ 2-0 win became when a coin hit Alfredo Morelos at waist height as he celebrated scoring the Ibrox men’s added-time second goal in front of a stand housing St Mirren’s singing section.
Every person of reasonable and sound mind surely sings from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the need for such an attempted assault to be dealt with using all measures available. Both in terms of police action and sanctions that can be administered from within football.
It is incredible to think that, following the furore that accompanied Hibernian manager Neil Lennon being struck with a coin during the midweek Edinburgh derby, and a Hibs fan punching Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal during that match, a spectator at St Mirren didn’t think twice before launching a piece of silver at the Colombian striker. Such louts are betraying Scottish football just as it is enjoying a renaissance. Indeed, the sad reality is the very fact more people are attending games than at any stage in the past decade means more undesirables will be attracted through the gates.
The life ban for those throwing objects demanded by Steven Gerrard in the wake of the Morelos coin-throwing incident is the least deserved by any culprit. Unfortunately, such a punishment is incredibly difficult to see through. Ensuring that such actions bring criminal records has to be more of a deterrent.
It must be said that even without this incident, match action couldn’t solely claim the focus. The contest certainly demanded attention. St Mirren’s more-than-token resistance before they succumbed to a seventh straight defeat ensured that. This was equally true of the ability of Gerrard’s team to find a way to win again following three games without a victory, a run in which an unrecoverable blow was delivered with the Betfred Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen.
Yet, referee Willie Collum had the final say about the major footballing talking point: his decision to show a inexplicable second yellow card to Daniel Candeias. The dismissal that resulted from this followed the Portuguese being merely a player transgressed – which led to Gerrard legitimately branding the official’s call “embarrassing”.
Collum acted after the winger received a little bump in the chin from the clenched fist of Anton Ferdinand, who put his opponent in an arm lock. The defender did so after being annoyed at Candeias’ goading and blowing of kisses to St Mirren players following the decisive strike by Morelos.
He wasn’t alone on the home ranks. Craig Samson, pictured, also had words with the 30-year-old, whose arrival as a 55th-minute substitute turned the encounter. He did so with a flukey hit in the 80th minute that was aimed as a cross but sailed over the St Mirren No 1 – “If it was a cross he’s a jammy bastard,” said the keeper – and brought his first caution after he leaped into the crowd to celebrate. Samson believes Candeias’ jubilation second time was distinctly graceless.
“I was asking him to stop being so disrespectful, to be honest,” he said of the pair’s exchange in those closing seconds. “When they scored he ran past and gave Anton a bit of stick, telling him to ‘shoosh’ and blowing him kisses. So when he ran past me I just sort of grabbed him and I said, ‘look, there’s no need to be so disrespectful… you’ve won the game so just go and celebrate with your team-mates’. To be honest, he agreed with me, and he apologised.
“But Anton wasn’t very happy with what was happening. I don’t know what happened between the two of them but I just thought Candeias was lacking a wee bit of class in doing what he was doing.”