The John Rowbotham Page

(a somewhat ad hoc page dedicated to the baldy whistler from kirkcaldy)

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What can I say ? He's at it again. I am no great fan of the Sons of William or Mr Gascoigne, but that sending off was completely soft. A flapping open palmed hand which skimmed Weighorst's nose, is probably the least offensive thing Gazza has done in his tenure up here.

Former Rangers star Trevor Steven, reflecting on the match in a TV studio, offered words of comfort for Gascoigne.Steven said, "I am very disappointed for Paul and I don't know what the referee was thinking about. He did not deserve to be red-carded."
One-time Celtic defender Paul Elliott, his fellow panellist, echoed that view, commenting, "It was a bad decision and one consistent with the referee's performance overall.
"Paul did raise his arm but it was only a sign of frustration and there was minimal contact with Wieghorst."

Enough of my minimal sympathy for the Huns,
here's The one that started it...


Dundee United 1 Hibernian 1 (Dundee Courier)

Rowbotham, whose once promising refereeing career has never recovered from the furore his handling of the infamous Rangers-Aberdeen at Ibrox two seasons ago created, gave the veteran Tangerines defender his marching orders after two bookings.

Malpas was sent packing after getting caught up in an innocuous looking 67th minute clash with Hibs' Jean-Marc Boco during which he appeared to tred on the French left-back as he sought to retain his balance and regain possession of a ball he had originally taken out of defence.

The contact seemed entirely accidental and the awarding of a free-kick would have been sufficient sanction - but, to the amazement even of some of Boco's team-mates, Rowbotham cautioned Malpas again.

However, he showed remarkable leniency in other instances, including letting Lavety off with just a warning for shoving Pedersen after the pair tangled on the touchline, completely ignoring an astonishing clash between McGinlay and Dolan and failing to take action when Paul Tosh planted his studs in Pedersen's thigh.


Until Maurice Malpas' unwarranted dismissal in the 67th minute, United had fashioned a pleasing goal and then weathered the attacking thrusts of the visitors in a manner which suggested that Hibs were on the verge of becoming a spent force.

But then Malpas, who had earlier been booked for a trip on Pat McGinlay, was shown a second yellow card after appearing to stumble accidentally onto Frenchman Jean-Marc Boco.

The Herald

Rough justice for Malpas

That goal was largely down to the curious influence of the arbiter of justice - the referee John Rowbotham. Over the piece perhaps the final result was fair enough, but the manner of its achievement was strewn with inconsistencies and injustice.

While other referees can choke matches with their use of yellow cards John Rowbotham has an unhappy reputation for choking when he ought to take action. Yesterday he booked three players and sent one off in dubious circumstances and allowed many others to go un-punished. It was his sending off of Maurice Malpas which left United feeling that they had suffered most at his hands.

After 67 minutes Malpas, who had already been booked on the stroke of half time, was tackled by Jean-Marc Boco. As he tried to get up he tangled with the player and when play was stopped the majority of the observers thought a free kick would be awarded to the home side. However, Mr Rowbotham decided to show a second yellow card and for only the second time in his career Malpas found himself ordered off.

...there can be little doubt that the manager agreed with the sentiments of his players Andy Dow and Brian Grant, who both seemed to plead for the referee to show clemency.

Nor did Mr Rowbotham need to dip into his pocket for a card. Had Malpas stamped on his opponent then a red card should have been shown immediately. The fact that it was not suggests that the foul was rather more innocuous and probably accidental.

...but the most dramatic improvement will be looked for from the referee.

Perkin Warbeck adds

Nearly all of the above concerns his decision to send off Maurice. The incandescent ire which stimulated this page was more caused by his desire to be the first referee in history to apply the rather strange new 5 second rule. Even if one supports this rule, one would have thought that its first introduction might have been subsequent not only to a warning but also a more blatant example - Sieb was probably on one or two seconds over the limit.


Heart of Midlothian 4 Motherwell 1 (

Fortunately none of the latter quality was required when the equaliser finally arrived as a result once again of Mr Rowbotham's renowned unpredictability. This time the official awarded Hearts a penalty for some unspecified infringement, committed as Fulton's free-kick bobbled around harmlessly in the Motherwell area.


Heart of Midlothian 0 Hibernian 0 (

Robertson's slick turn was halted by the crudest of scything challenges from Hunter, a tackle which Mr Rowbotham judged perfectly fair. Evidence that the Kirkcaldy whistler had perhaps realised his mistake came a couple of minutes later when Hughes was cautioned for a much less violent attack on Paille midway inside the Hibs half.

Referee Rowbotham was struggling to put the lid back on the can of worms he had helped to prise open and when he eventually did, it was at the expense of any entertainment value left in what had become a poor match.


Heart of Midlothian 2 Dunfermline Athletic 0 (

Mr John Rowbotham of Kirkcaldy looked to have blown a promising career as a Grade One referee with his incompetent handling of a stormy encounter between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox in the early part of last season. After the initial outcry, the follicly-challenged whistler has enjoyed something of a rehabilitation that reached a climax a few weeks ago when he was awarded the corresponding fixture again. He seemed to survive that test all right, but if his completely inept display at Tynecastle on Saturday was anything to go by, it won't be long before he hits the headlines again.

Mr Rowbotham contrived to book six players for a miscellany of trivial non-offences, ignore any assistance offered by his often better-positioned colleagues and leave fans and players alike breathing a huge sigh of relief that his unpredictability hadn't resulted in dismissals for one or more players.

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