In what must be one of the first cases of footballers appearing in court anywhere, three Liverpool players arrested in the night time after a victory over Preston North End in 1898 saw their case dismissed in court.
On 12th November 1898 Liverpool beat Preston 3-1 in a 1st Division encounter at Anfield, with Hugh Morgan scoring two goals and George Allan the other. Later that night Morgan and Allan who were both Scots, were seen arguing in Oakfield Road with another Scottish player, John Walker.
When a policeman tried to intervene following a complaint from a member of the public Walker is alleged to have said ‘Let’s show him some Scotch blood’ leading to Allan being restrained. Walker and Morgan were then said to have manhandled the officer as he was taking Allan into custody and this led to all three being arrested and charged with Breach of the Peace and Obstructing a Constable.
Two days later all three appeared at the Liverpool Police Court and the case was adjourned for two days whilst more witnesses were sought. On 16th November back at the same court the public galleries were packed for the trial, at which Walker denied making any comment about Scotch blood. Instead, it was alleged that the officer himself had made derogatory comments to the players for being Scottish. The officer refuted this suggestion, but he did admit taking Allan to the Bridewell without telling him what he had been charged with.
Dismissing the case, the Stipendiary Magistrate said that none of the players had been drunk at the time and if they had gone on their way when first told to, the arrests wouldn’t have been necessary. However he did advise the players to ‘turn in earlier on Saturday nights’ and not argue in the street.
As the players (pictured below – Morgan, Walker and Allan) left the courtroom to cheers from the public gallery, the Stipendiary was forced to call for order, the following day’s Liverpool Mercury commenting that ‘they were reminded that they were not on a football ground.’