RANGERS’ Fernando Ricksen has explained away the kick he aimed at Aberdeen’s Darren Young in Sunday’s game at Pittodrie by saying: "someone had to straighten him out".
The defender’s action was shown live on television, and most observers felt the Dutchman should have been sent off for violent conduct, though in the event no foul was given.
It was one of a number of incidents in the match which yesterday prompted Aberdeen to make a formal complaint to the Scottish Football Association about the conduct of referee Mike McCurry.
Ricksen gave his version of events on his personal website, which he maintains is "the only place you can read the truth about my activities both on and off the pitch". Honouring that pledge, with some candour Ricksen wrote: "I was involved in a clash with Darren Young during the second half that the TV cameras picked up on.
"First of all, I thought he made a really strange tackle on Michael Mols, so when I saw him coming up to me I just jumped up to protect myself. He was kicking around a lot in the match, and someone had to straighten him out. Overall, I felt that I wasn’t playing too well. I felt really tired, but I did my job and looked after my side of the field."
Although the defender seems to have got away unpunished with a red-card offence, his view that he had to take justice into his own hands will strike a chord with officials at Aberdeen, who were appalled by McCurry’s performance in their side’s 2-1 defeat.
The club’s chief executive, Dave Cormack, has written to the SFA to point out Aberdeen’s disappointment at the official’s display, which seemed significantly to contribute to Rangers’ victory.
As well as missing Ricksen’s thigh-high kick at Young, McCurry ignored Aberdeen’s first-half penalty claim when Barry Ferguson tripped Arild Stavrum and another in the second period when Lorenzo Amoruso cleared the ball from the penalty area with his arm.
Cormack said his club had been forced into their action by the widespread sense of grievance shared by their players and fans. He said: "There were certain aspects of the handling of the match we were unhappy with.
"In view of the strength of feeling both within the club and from our supporters, we feel it is only correct that the appropriate authorities are made aware of our position."
Aberdeen players such as Stavrum, Young and Thomas Solberg have all voiced displeasure with McCurry, and even their manager, mild-mannered Ebbe Skovdahl, has joined the critical chorus.
On the Amoruso incident, Skovdahl said: "It looked to me like he was thinking it was one of those days they could get away with anything."
Ironically, both manager and players could end up in trouble with the game’s governing body for those off-the-cuff comments. However, while an SFA spokesman admitted the club were within their rights to complain officially about McCurry, it was made clear that television pictures cannot be used as evidence against the referee.
The SFA spokesman said: "Video recordings of points of play are seen as inadmissible. The report of the referee supervisor who was at the Pittodrie is the only evidence that will be considered."
It remains to be seen whether internet evidence will be considered against Ricksen who, without any contrition, has admitted his offence. Had he been caught in the act, a suspension would have automatically followed his sending-off.
As for McCurry, he will now face a wait to see what repercussions, if any, this has for his career. It might be remembered the fortunes of fellow referee John Rowbotham have never fully recovered following his mistakes in a game between the clubs at Ibrox a few years ago.