Friday, 3 July 2020

How much longer will the referee control the game on the pitch?

Article from Sunday Mirror of 28 June 2020 

IT is 129 years since the champions of England resided at Anfield for the first time.
And as Liverpool prepare to lift the Premier League trophy at the end of a season that has brought the introduction of VAR, it's ironic that the 1890-91 campaign was also shrouded in refereeing controversy.
That first Merseyside triumph, during the reign of Queen Victoria, belonged to Everton.
The Blues were the pioneers of the game in a city now synonymous around the world with football.
And they played at Anfield for seven years, until an attempt by chairman John Houlding to increase the rent on the ground he owned ended with Everton moving a mile across Stanley Park to Goodison.
Houlding took his revenge by setting up a rival club, Liverpool – and the rest is history.
This is Liverpool's 19th title, while Everton have nine. No City in England has more.
But the Toffees are the originals – and when they clinched the championship in March 1891 it was thanks to a remarkable chain of events linked to how football was refereed.
When the Blues lost their final game of the season 3-2 at Burnley, it seemed they had handed the crown to reigning champions Preston North End.
Preston had finished top in each of the first two years of the fledgling Football League and needed only to win at Sunderland to clinch a hat-trick of titles.
These were the days when clubs appointed their own umpires, each applying the laws of the game in opposite halves of the pitch.
A referee, positioned on the halfway line with a whistle, would be the final arbiter of all decisions.
But the sight of all three officials arguing with each other was commonplace.
And when Preston chairman and umpire Major William Sudell took exception to a decision made by referee Mr Cooper in the decisive game at the Wearsiders' Newcastle Road ground, he stormed off the pitch and refused to continue.
North End were already two goals behind and eventually lost 3-0 to a Sunderland team that finished seventh in their first season in the 12-team league.
The Newcastle-based newspaper The Journal reported: “One has not heard the last of Mr Sudell walking off the field and leaving his side without an umpire, for the referee Mr Cooper felt it keenly.
A man of his experience should have thought twice before taking such a drastic action, especially as the referee's decision seemed correct.”
It was to be a watershed moment in how the laws of the game were applied.
In October 1890, in an experiment to see how officiating standards could be improved, the FA Cup tie between Gainsborough Trinity and Lincoln City saw referee Arthur Kingscott given complete control of the game.
It didn't go well, with Kingscott criticised for his inconsistent decisions and failure to send off a couple of Lincoln players for violent tackles.
But following the fall out from the events witnessed at Sunderland, the FA decided that appointing neutral referees and linesmen was the only way forward.
Even so, international games were refereed in the old style, with each country nominating their own linesman.
It wasn't until 1947 that the annual Home International clash between England and Scotland was refereed by a neutral official, with Frenchman Charles Delasalle helped by a linesman from each country.
More than 70 years later, each Premier League game requires no fewer than 10 officials following the advent of VAR.
The referee is aided at the stadium by two assistant referees, a fourth official, two additional assistant referees and a reserve additional referee.
In the VAR booth at Stockley Park, there is a VAR official and two assistant VAR officials.
And once again, it can be argued that the final decision no longer belongs to the man in the middle.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020


Details from freelance journalist 
Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 

Press release - 1 July 2020 

Some campaigners will this weekend REMEMBER ELLEN STRANGE and domestic violence victims by gathering at the world’s oldest domestic violence commemoration site 

A small number of people will this Sunday gather on Holcombe Moor, Ramsbottom at the world’s oldest domestic violence commemoration site where Ellen Strange was murdered by her husband in January 1761.

Staying safe during COVID-19 has meant the annual Ellen Strange Memorial Day (ESMD) walk, which last year attracted 75 people of all ages, on the first Sunday in July has been cancelled. 

But as the walk not only remembers Ellen Strange but also includes the reading out of the names of all Domestic Violence victims in the previous year then the organisers want to maintain this tradition that began in 2015. In 2020 the names of 123 victims will be read out; 117 are women and six men. Thousands of others suffer emotional and physical brutality. 

The lockdown during COVID19 has also led, according to Linda Charnock of the Bolton based Endeavour Project, which provides support to keep people and their pets safe from domestic abuse and which is one of the ESMD organisers, reporting “a significant rise in the numbers of people needing help. Many people have been trapped at home with their abuser.” 

Internationally, the UN has described the worldwide increase in domestic abuse as a ‘shadow pandemic” alongside COVID-19.

As in previous years a wreath will be laid to remember Ellen Strange and all domestic violence victims and there will be a small number of speeches. A minutes silence will be observed before the organisers make the 45 minute walk back down off the moor. 

Martin McMulkin, a Bolton Councillor and Unite the union activist, said “it is disappointing that so few of us can make it on to the Moor but it is still important to remember Ellen and the domestic violence victims of last year.” 

The organisers are now looking to host a local public meeting, hopefully at the Emmanuel Holcombe Church, close to 25 November - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 

At this event the soon to be released 10 minute professional documentary film on why Ellen Strange’s story from over 250 years is still relevant today will be shown.

To find out more about Ellen Strange (*) then download the booklet on her by local historian John Simpson at:-

For further details contact Mark Metcalf on 07392 852561 or Martin McMulkin on 07918 839327.

* Ellen Strange was murdered by her husband, John Broadley, on Holcombe Moor on 26 January 1761. When Ellen’s strangled and badly disfigured body was discovered her husband was arrested and indicted for her murder. At his trial a number of witnesses were called but as it was not the practice to write down such evidence we don’t know what they said. What we can be sure of is that their evidence was insufficient to convict Broadley. Forensic evidence had not yet been identified and the charged man pleaded not guilty. Almost certainly there were no eye witnesses to the attack.

Afterwards Ellen’s family and/or local people raised a pile of stones in her memory. This was called “Ellen Strange” on the first Ordnance Survey map in 1844-47. However, over time the true story became clouded in mystery until, in 1989, local author John Simpson published the results of his exhaustive research into events on the desolate moor over 200 years earlier.

The Unite Education Rebel Road project catalogues trade union and labour movement heroes who are publicly commemorated in the form of a plaque. When Bolton Trades Union Council were informed about the Ellen Strange story they obtained the backing of the Unite NW regional committee. £2000 was raised to republish Simpson’s book.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

A list of recommended feminist literature

List of Feminist Literature
With thanks to Carol M
“Women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the poets from the beginning of time. Indeed if woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance; very various; heroic and mean; splendid and sordid; beautiful and hideous in the extreme; as great as a man, some would say greater. But this is woman in fiction. In fact, as Professor Trevelyan points out, she was locked up, beaten and flung about the room. A very queer, composite being thus emerges. Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant. She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history. She dominates the lives of kings and conquerors in fiction; in fact, she was the slave of any boy whose parents forced a ring upon her finger. Some of the most inspired words and profound thoughts in literature fall from her lips; in real life she could hardly read; scarcely spell; and was the property of her husband.” 
Quote from Virginia Woolf

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist 
Written by Robert Tressell (pseudonym of Robert Noonan) (first published 1914)
Probably not the first book that most feminists would recommend, but Tressell’s work, though decidedly male-centric, is a beginning for understanding the position of the working class in the global capitalist scheme of things and, in turn, reflects strongly on the relative position of women in that scheme. ‘The Money Trick’ is an eye-opener in itself. It speaks volumes that, in the first edition, the printers removed much of the socialist ideology and that the unabridged edition was not printed until 1955. As one reviewer suggested ‘This book changes lives.’..

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with Strictures on Political and Moral subjects
Written by Mary Wollstonecraft (first published 1792)
Penned at a time of great social and political upheaval in Europe and the Americas, Wollstonecraft, whilst at no time directly advancing the idea that men and women are equal, does call for equality between the sexes, especially in specific areas of life. She was galvanised into a response by a report to the French National Assembly, suggesting that it was unnecessary for women to receive a full education, and that it be only required that women have a ‘domestic education’. Despite its drawbacks, her book made a significant impact on the fight for women’s rights.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, written by herself
Written by Harriett Jacobs, using the pseudonym Linda Brent
(first published 1861)
‘Incidents’ is an autobiography of a woman slave and how she gained freedom for herself and her children. She writes of the abuses endured and her attempts to raise and protect her children. 

The Subjection of Women
Written by John Stuart Mill (first published 1869)
Yes, this book was most definitely written by a man, but in its defence, I should say that Mill himself gave over credit to both his deceased wife and his daughter for the arguments postulated. At a time when British society looked on women as, very literally, the weaker sex, the publishing of any book in vindication of the rights of women was to be applauded. Mill effectively argues that keeping half of humanity unable to contribute fully to society is a hindrance to future development. His views, of course ran contrary to the social norms of the time, but Mills advocates a ‘system of perfect equality, admitting no power and privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.’

The Suffragette: The History of the Militant Women’s Suffrage Movement 1905-1910
Written by Sylvia E Pankhurst (first published 1911)
Looking back at the history of the time through the pages of this book, the question arises – why was the Establishment so hell bent on denying what is now so obvious to us all? 

The Second Sex
Written by Simone de Beauvoir (first published 1949)
Trying to squash the enormity of this book into a few words would be to dismiss its true relevance. Best I can do is a quote from Simone de Beauvoir herself: ‘….it is not women’s inferiority which has doomed them to historical insignificance: it is their historical insignificance that has doomed them to inferiority.’ An excellent and illuminating read.

The Feminine Mystique
Written by Betty Friedan (first published 1963)
In this book, Friedan challenges the accepted assumptions of the time about women’s fulfilment in the role of wife, mother, housekeeper, illustrating that women did indeed want more – an education, work, political opinions. This and the previous book are seen as the catalyst for a second wave of feminism.

Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement.
Edited by Robin Morgan (first published 1970)
As the name suggests, a collection of writings from feminists such as Joreen (Jo Freeman) Marge Piercy, Frances M Beal (author of ‘Double Jeopardy – To Be Black and Female’) and others. This publication was followed up by ‘Sisterhood is Global – The International Women’s Movement Anthology’ (1984) and ‘Sisterhood is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for a New Millennium’ (2003). Powerful stuff. (Best accessed from the library or possibly a second-hand book shop – they are all a bit expensive these days).

Ain’t I a Woman? – Black Women and Feminism
Written by Bell Hooks (first published 1981)
Titled after the 1851 speech given by Sojourner Truth, American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Hooks examines the effect of racism and sexism on black women. I feel unqualified to speak to this book, except to say – you should read it!

Backlash – The Undeclared War Against American Women
Written by Susan Faludi (first published 1991)
Whilst Faludi aimed this book at American women, it is quite clear that she speaks about all women in the eyes of the media. She identifies backlash as a historical trend, recurring when women have made substantial gains in their fight for equality.

This is by no means a definitive list – there are hundreds and hundreds of worthy books, pamphlets, novels, theses, poems, polemics and one-line jokes which highlight the cause of an ongoing women’s movement. Three steps forward, two back – but we do continue to move. The following books are novels. Each one is, in my opinion, most deserving of a place on any list of feminist literature. Novels often have the ability to change minds and shape lives where more academic writings fail.
Fear of Flying – Erica Jong (published 1973)
The Women’s Room – Marilyn French (published 1977)
The Color Purple – Alice Walker (published 1982)
Saman – Ayu Utami (published 1998)
Tipping the Velvet – Sarah Waters (published 1998)
Stolen Sunshine – Smita Jhavar (published 2002)
The Woman in the Photograph – Stephanie Butland (published 2019)
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 - Cho Nam-joo (first published 2016, in English 2020)
….and so many, many more.

Further feminist authors to read: 
Harriet Taylor Mill
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Harriett Martineau
Dora Montefiori
Andrea Dworkin
Virginia Woolfe
Maya Angelou
Marge Piercy
Alice Walker
Emma Goldman
Doris Lessing
Kate Millett
Gloria Steinem
Robin Morgan
Susie Orbach
Dale Spender
Marilyn Waring

A recommended film list

Battleship Potemkin/Strike  :  Both Sergei Eisenstein, 1925, USSR  :  Two classics from the early period of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.  Lots of iconic imagery/scenes that will be instantly recognised. 

Land and Freedom/Kes/Riffraff/Bread and Roses (1995/1969/1991/2001).  Four classics from Ken Loach illustrating aspects of working class struggle in settings ranging from UK, Spain and USA.  

Grapes of Wrath  :  John Ford, 1940, USA.  Fantastic adaption of the John Steinbeck novel of the Great Depression.  Moving in parts and testimony to the resilience of the working class.

Bicycle Thieves  :  Vittorio de Sica, 1948, Italy.  Key document of Italian neorealism which documents the realities of working class life in post-war Italy.

Peterloo  :  Mike Leigh, 2018, UK.  Account of the massacre at a suffrage rally in St Peters Field Manchester in 1819 where cavalry charged a peaceful crowd leading to a number of deaths and hundreds of injured.  Labelled the bloodiest event in English political history.

Culloden :  Peter Watkins, 1964, UK.  Documentary style treatment of the events that took place at Culloden near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.  The destruction of the Jacobite Army on 16.4.1746 and the slaughter of the clan army by the royalist troops led by the Duke of Cumberland ( ‘the butcher’) led to the collapse of the clan system, the end of the rebellion and, ultimately, the Highland Clearances.

All Quiet on the Western Front  :  Lewis Milestone, 1930, USA.  Arguably the finest anti-war film ever made.  Classic adaptation of the novel by Erich Maria Remarque about the stresses and futility of war

The Chess Players/An Enemy of the People  : Satyajit Ray, 1977 and 1989, India.  Two from Ray who many regard as the finest of India’s filmmakers.  Aspects of the colonial struggle illustrated in both.

Pather Panchali/Aparajito/World of Apu (The Apu Trilogy)  :  Satyajit Ray, 1955, 1956, 1959, India.  Arguably Ray’s finest work and the story of a working class family in post-independence India.

The Miners’ Hymns  :  Bill Harrison, 2010, UK.  Very beautiful elegy to the people of the Durham coalfields.  Wonderfully atmospheric and a fine memorial to working class people and place.

Pan’s Labyrinth  :  Guillermo del Toro, 2006, UK.  A beautiful film, a fantasy, a moral fable.  About the Spanish Civil War, disobedience, moral authority.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Pupils, with parents support, take strike action in 1930s to make things safer

Six dead and still nothing said: Halifax 1842 remains unmarked in the West Yorkshire town

I have made a short film on events in Halifax in 1842, 178 years on there is nothing publicly anywhere in the West Yorkshire town that honours those who were slaughtered by the military and special constables, who were cheered on by the local employers who are very much publicly honoured in the town with statues and plaques.

This needs to change.

Friday, 22 May 2020

A talk about Betty Tebbs

Bury-born Betty Tebbs, who died in January 2017, was a working class socialist, trade unionist, internationalist, equal rights champion, peace activist and class fighter for all of her 98 years. 

Unite has published a biography by Mark Metcalf (available as a free download via of Betty’s remarkable life, which drew on taped interviews, correspondence and other material by and about Betty held in the Working Class Movement Library.  

Mark spoke about what about Betty has most inspired him. The Working Class Movement Library would value your financial support at this difficult time - if you can help, please head to

Maxine Peake and Betty Tebbs 

Betty speaking at 1969 TUC Conference 

Betty's union

Betty became a peace activist for the rest of her life after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"The bombings were not aimed at ending the war, but in order to test nuclear weapons."