Referee Scandal

  • Posted on: 30 December 2014
  • By: lrigby
Acting President Lithgow Maritime Professional Hockey League

On March 3rd 1914, the Millionaires, with a good size league lead, were facing the second place New Glasgow Black Foxes at home.  This game was considered likely to be the deciding game of the MPHA season if the Millionaires were able to defeat the Black Foxes at home.  During the preparations for this important game, the Millionaires management and that of the New Glasgow team were unable to come to terms and agree on a referee for the game.  Both teams then appealed to acting president Lithgow to pick a referee for the upcoming match.  President Lithgow sent a telegram to Sydney stating that Frank Brown of Moncton was named as one of the referees for the game.  The Sydney management agreed to Brown, believing that the second ref would be appointed from Sydney.  Later in the day Secretary Buckley received another telegram from Lithgow stating that Stanley Smith of Halifax was named as the second referee.  Sydney's management decided that the naming of two nonlocal refs was an attempt to ensure that New Glasgow won the game and told Lithgow that the Millionaires would not go on the ice with these two referees. 

To sort out this issue, Acting President Lithgow left Halifax and headed to Sydney to meet with representatives of the Sydney and New Glasgow teams.   Upon arrival in Sydney, a meeting was scheduled in Mayor Gunn's office with a large group of interested parties including President Lithgow, New Glasgow's manager Mason and several Sydney management including President Larder, former president J.J. Curry, C.B. Ross, Secretary Buckley among others.  The debate became heated at times with the Sydney officials claiming that the appointment of two "outside" men to referee a game was highly unordinary. Lithgow did concede to the fact that the naming of two outside men was never done before in Canada but George Mason refused to accept any change in the referees.  President Larder informed New Glasgow's manager Mason that if he would not accept a change in referees, the Millionaires would not pay the one hundred and fifty dollar appearance fee to the Black Foxes.


This critical game was attended by sixteen hundred excited Sydney fans hoping to witness the Millionaires sew up the Crosby Cup and grab themselves another challenge for the Stanley Cup.  The game finished up in a tie after regulation play with both teams on the board with two goals.  Many of the fans complained that the goal judge had missed two goals that Sydney had scored but neither referee admitted he witnessed either score.  The game lasted fifty-three minutes into overtime with neither team able to score due to the poor condition of the ice.  According to one reporter on site, "the ice was covered with nearly a foot of water by the time overtime play was reached and the game resembled a mop tournament more than anything else."  Finally New Glasgow's George Stewart was able to sneak a shot past Savard to clench victory for the visiting team. This victory meant that the Black Foxes and the Millionaires were tied for the league lead with only one game each to play.  New Glasgow was set to play the Halifax Crescents the following night in New Glasgow and Sydney was to play the Halifax Socials a few days later.  After the game George Mason, New Glasgow's manager, headed for the Millionaires dressing room to collect the one hundred and fifty dollars from the gate receipts that had been promised per game in Sydney.  President Larder of the Millionaires refused to hand over the funds and stated that Mason had forfeited his rights to the money when he insisted on having two outside referees appointed.

The following evening, the Black Foxes were able to defeat the Crescents by a score of seven to five and take the lead in the MPHA with Sydney still set to play the Socials on Friday.  If the Millionaires were able to defeat the Halifax team they would have to play a two game home and home series against the Black Foxes with the total score winner winning the Crosby Cup.  The unfortunate result of this possible playoff was that the MPHA would likely not be able to send a team to play for the Stanley Cup since it would go past the dates announced for the challenge series. 


The March 6th game was highly anticipated by the fans in Sydney.  Hundreds headed down to Charlotte Street to wait for results coming in over the wire from Halifax. To the great delight of the cheering fans on Charlotte Street, the Millionaires were able to defeat the Halifax Socials by a score of 4 to 2 and secured a tie with the New Glasgow Black Foxes at the top of the MPHA standings.  President Lithgow set the two game championship match for the following week, with the two teams playing in New Glasgow on Tuesday and in Sydney the following Thursday.