Video is so much a part of football today that it is hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t a factor in reports of players .
Ian George had a career of just half a dozen League games, but he has a small, and unique, niche in the game’s history: Ian was the first player to use video evidence in a tribunal hearing, just on 50 years ago.
Playing against Melbourne in 1973 he was charged with striking Melbourne’s Denis Clark. St Kilda secretary Ian Drake sought permission to use video evidence to try and exonerate the young rover, and tribunal Chairman John Winneke gave his approval. Video evidence had never been permitted prior to that case.
Experience Saints history like you've never seen before 📖— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) March 26, 2023
Introducing https://t.co/nGPUSyLXjp, the ultimate fan experience.
Ian George says that the general recollection of footy fans is usually incorrect.
“Most people get it wrong. They think that I was reported by video. But it was a normal report by the umpires, and it was the first time they had ever accepted using the video replay as evidence. Even with that they still found me guilty!”
George said that Drake being instantly ready to show the video was a factor.
The tribunal chairman Winneke even joked as Drake was setting up the machine: “Maybe Ian wants to see Number 96 (a leading TV show at the time)”.
The tribunal viewed the incident 10 times, deliberated for six minutes, then found George guilty and suspended him for two weeks.
“I actually kept the report sheet, but I had it so long the ink faded and you couldn’t read a thing on it. The umpire told the tribunal I ran in with both arms up with my elbows at shoulder level and hit him on the top of the head with two fists. That was wrong. He (Clark) threw a punch at me.”
George was defended by former Saints player Bill Coady who said it was a completely innocent meeting of two players and there was no suggestion that George’s hands came into it.
The umpire, Ian Robinson said that “the position of the camera on player Clark somewhat obscured the contact made by player George.” Robinson added that George did not say anything after he had been reported, but Clark said “good”.
Robinson said there was no doubt that George’s two hands came up, but St Kilda’s Coady told the tribunal that George had suffered a wrist injury earlier in the game when he had attempted to smother Melbourne wingman Stan Alves’ kick, and the injury had prevented him from handling the ball with any assurance and stopped him from putting pressure on the wrist.
George said that the incident had begun with a melee and he had seen Clark dragging a St Kilda player by his feet. George ran in and Clark saw him coming. “I was a few yards away and he turned around. I braced myself and as I got to him, he pushed me off.”
The wrist injury George had suffered was diagnosed later as a broken scaphoid. He played another senior game in 1974 but then had surgery.
“It was giving me hell and they didn’t find out that it was broken for quite a while. I ended up having a bone graft. I had it in plaster and was in hospital for nearly a week after the operation.”
He walked into the club one night and coach Allan Jeans said he should be on the training track despite the plaster.
“He went off his nut at me. I packed up my gear and walked out and that was the end of me. I ended up playing for City South in Tasmania. I flew over there for about three weeks, but I hurt the wrist again doing exactly the same thing. I didn’t play for three or four years. Then I went to Cheltenham where (former teammate) Steven Rae was coaching, and I played there for two years.”
And so ended a brief career which had started brilliantly.
“I kicked a goal with my first kick. The ball bounced, it was at Moorabbin against Geelong and somebody kicked it straight down. Bluey Hampshire was on the backline for Geelong. I grabbed him and he dropped it and I got the free and kicked the goal. It was probably all in the first 30 seconds.”
But Ian George admits that the video use at the tribunal is the unusual thing he is remembered for.
“It is a piece of history. I have been told it was a quiz question somewhere, but they never got it right!”