The First World War was casting its shadow and it seemed certain the League will be suspended at the end of the season and with it an end to many footballing careers.
Manchester United were struggling to avoid relegation whilst Liverpool stood in mid-table. A number of players with their livelihoods at stake decide to fix the result of the forthcoming League game. The game on 2nd April would be won by United, 2-0 and both goals coming from George Anderson. The 15,000 crowd at Old Trafford however and the officials were concerned about the performance. Liverpool showed a marked lack of commitment. When they were awarded a penalty, Anderson the regular taker declined to take the kick and his replacement sent the ball nearer to the corner flag than the goal. Late in the game Liverpool's Pagham struck the bar only to be assailed with abuse from his team mates for nearly scoring.
The Liverpool Daily Post tells us "A more one-sided first half would be hard to witness." Whilst The Sporting Chronicle added "The Liverpool forwards gave the weakest exhibition in the second half seen on the ground during the season." The Manchester Daily Dispatch, "The second half was crammed with lifeless football. United were two up with twenty minutes to play and they seemed so content with their lead that they apparently never tried to increase it. Liverpool scarcely ever gave the impression that they would be likely to score." The Dispatch also reported that the United manager 'Jack Robson, disgusted at the second-half spectacle, stormed out of the ground before the final whistle.'
The referee John Sharpe would describe the game as “the most extraordinary match I have ever officiated in.” In the days following the game handbills appeared that alleged large amounts of money had been bet at 7 or 8 -1 on United winning 2-0. Reports claimed that the two sets of players had been seen drinking together several times in the days before the game. Then the Sporting Chronicle published a notice promising a substantial reward for information that would lead to punishment of the "instigators of this reprehensible conspiracy. We have solid grounds for believing that a certain First League match played in Manchester during Easter weekend was squared‘, the home club being permitted to win by a certain score."
THE FA were forced into setting up an investigation. It reported on 23rd December and concluded that players from both sides were involved. Four Liverpool players and three from United were banned for life from the game, although by then the League had been suspended. The FA said they thought other players were involved by they could not uncover the evidence. Several players and the bookmakers gave evidence. One senior player, said he knew nothing about the scheme but had become suspicious during the game when nobody would pass to him. The FA report stated 'By their action they have sought to undermine the whole fabric of the game and discredit its honesty and fairness.'
The FA ruled that only the players were involved and that neither club was involved and were not fined or punished. Whilst the main motive was money it did mean United finished the season 18th while Tottenham went bottom and relegated with Chelsea.
One of the players however Enoch West still insisted he was innocent (reports claim he had a very bad game, seemingly disinterested). He would sue the FA and lose with several players giving evidence against him.
After the war as the League restarted due to them having served in the army the ban was lifted on them all, except for two, one who had been killed. The other, West because of his fighting his innocence. His ban was lifted in 1945 when he was 59.
As for Spurs, the League due to restarted in 1919/20 would be enlarged by two teams. Chelsea and Spurs were expected to be voted in, Chelsea were. However Spurs found they were in a ballot with Arsenal (who had finished 5th in Division 2) as well as Barnsley and Wolves who finished above them.
Their Chairman, Norris, who was later banned from the game for his financial management (1), was said to be a good friend of the Liverpool Chairman, 'Honest' John McKenna. Who was also chairman of the League and McKenna gave a stunning endorsement on behave of Arsenal who won the vote. Other 'theories' claim that was due to Norris having some evidence relating to the Good Friday game.
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Note - This article was written three years ago but several other sites also covered the subject on its centenary and this was put on hold. Thanks also to BBC, Manchester Evening News and Liverpool FC.
1 - The Story of Norris @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/a-long-dark-shadow
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