Why Shawcross can’t say, “I didn’t mean it” and a review of his previous assaults.

A review of the issue of assault, and the previous convictions of Shawcross

By The Law

Back when I was a Law Student, we were taught an interesting rule in Criminal Law, called The Eggshell Skull Rule. This rule stated that if you struck someone on the head which resulted in a shattered skull and death because your victim had a skull as thin as an eggshell, then you would be liable for the death, and you could not use as your defence that had your victim possessed a normal skull, he would not have died.

Whether you intended to cause such damage or not is similarly irrelevant. You take your victims as you find them. We were also to find out that the same rule applied in Tort.

In the wake of Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Aaron Ramsey which broke the young Welshman’s leg, we have heard it all. Ryan’s a nice lad, his mum took him home, he’s not that type of player, the challenge was mistimed, he didn’t mean it, Arsenal players are brittle, and Arsene Wenger shouldn’t have brought boys into a man’s game.

All of these arguments would hold absolutely no water if the tackle and resultant injury were the subject of litigation. Courts have proven time and time again that they are uninterested in the intended consequences of the wrongdoer’s act.

You cannot stand up in court to say, “I didn’t mean it, guv. I only wanted to give him a headache, honest” and be sent home. If Aaron sued Ryan for assault, Ryan’s lawyers would not be allowed to lead any evidence to demonstrate that if he’d (for instance) kicked Didier Drogba that way, there would have been no broken bones. You take your victims as you find them.

Similarly, if Arsenal sued Stoke, Stoke’s lawyers cannot tell the court that Arsenal brought boys to a man’s game, and Stoke are therefore not liable. If Stoke realised they were playing boys, they were therefore required to take reasonable care not to cause them harm. Their failure to do so was reckless, at best.

The flippancy displayed by commentators on this issue, some even going so far as to declare that Wenger is making “unsubstantiated claims” about the mindset of opposition players and managers is both shocking and unsurprising.

When Ricardo Fuller declared that Stoke would copy those teams which have tried to bully Arsenal, when managers declare that they have to get in Arsenal’s faces, and when the media reports that Arsenal don’t like the rough stuff, well, any proof you seek is before your eyes. If you are bothered to seek it, which the media are, in general, not bothered to do.

As for Ryan Shawcross, he does have priors. He smashed Francis Jeffers’ ankle back when he was a lower division player with Stoke, and the Assistant Manager declared “Ryan’s not that sort of lad” and “This (the broken ankle suffered by his victim) won’t affect him at all.”

Ryan subsequently went on to tackle Adebayor while the latter was off the field, receiving no sanction for his attack, with the commentator remarking “Ryan’s no respecter of reputations.” What the heck did reputations have to do with tackling a player who wasn’t even on the field?

It is equally clear that the Assistant Manager was right about a broken ankle not affecting Shawcross. If it had, you’d have seen a much more restrained and controlled player. And if breaking a fellow professional’s leg doesn’t affect you at all, then you must be a psychopath of some kind. Clearly, his trainers and manager didn’t tell him that breaking someone’s leg was not part of football. For certain, accidents occur, but that is why they are accidents – they’re not supposed to happen very often.

Unsurprisingly, this time, we were told “Ryan is distraught.” Stoke must have sent Tony Pulis for sensitivity training then. Not that we give tuppence for it.



It is time for a thorough investigation of all that is wrong with football

Tony Attwood immediately after the end of the Stoke game

Was the assault on Ramsey linked to money

Why Stoke type thuggery is not allowed in Spain and Italy

Stoke and Arsenal: the referee’s views



The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)

“Making the Arsenal” – the novel.  The most extraordinary book about Arsenal ever.  And that’s unofficial.  Available from Amazon.co.uk and from the publishers direct.

Charlie Buchan’s first appearance for Arsenal.



Predictions for the rest of the season: the start of the new golden era.

The manager’s resigned, the league’s ending… Where next for Arsenal?

Wellington Silva is the future of Arsenal



Chievo Verona coach Domenico Di Carlo and Parma forward Davide Lanzafame have been suspended as a result of issuing a blasphemous expression.  Italian referees were told last week to give red cards to players they hear blaspheming.

The sound of a billion fans saying “Oh bugger” as football destroys itself is copyright © Untold Arsenal 2010.

27 Replies to “Why Shawcross can’t say, “I didn’t mean it” and a review of his previous assaults.”

  1. Now this is very intresting I must say. I am not a lawyer and never heard of this before. Well, I think there is a lot I never heard of before.

    Now we are entering some what a more legal point of view I would like to ask you what you think would happen if Arsenal or Aaron went to court?

    I mean if Arsenal went to court and not only went against Shawcross and Stoke (for deliberate and premidition hurting a person – sorry I don’t know the correct English words right now) but also went against the FA, and their refs, for not protecting their players. 3 broken bones in less than 4 years is an average that no team has ever reached in modern football so it is clear that the FA has not done anything to prevent those things.

    And another question is the fact that Fifa statutes forbids members to go to normal court procedures. I really think this is something that is meaningless and no organisation (in a free country) can stop a person from going to court ?

  2. Remember that Scottish thug of a striker called Ferfuson (is the name correct?) that played for Everton, and then went bakc to Scotland.

    I thought he was charged in court for an assault case on the playing field.

    ANybody can correct me as to this incident was correct?

    I believe there are cases when players, sufferring injury that ended their career, brought the culprit and club to court.

    On that career-endign injury fo Haaland, I believe he was not successful in pursuiting claim against Roy Keane.

    Anybody can provide enlightenments on above cases?

    But Arsenal FC can put thier feet down and use this Ramsey case as a first precedent to gof ro litigation.

  3. Walter.

    Shawcross is also guilty of depraved indifference – and that same charge can be applied to Tony Pulis and his staff.

    The best way to describe why it’s depraved indifference is to compare Shawcross’s actions with that of a drunk driver.

    While we will all accept that a drunk driver does not get into his car with the intention to kill or maim an innocent party – the fact that they are drunk and the fact that they continue to drive drunk makes them dangerous and it stops them having control of their actions.

    The very act of driving drunk puts you in a much riskier environment than if you weren’t and therefore your indifference to the fact that you’re putting other people’s lives in danger is a crime. It doesn’t matter how nice you are. The law of averages dictate that eventually, you will kill or maim somebody when driving drunk.

    In Shawcross’s case – and the case of many of the clubs that use this form of thuggery against Arsenal – they are constantly operating in a risky environment that’s akin to drink driving. They may think it’s OK and they may believe they’ll get away with it – but eventually, a horror show occurs.

    Intent doesn’t come into it at all – the fact that your depraved indifference makes you care less about what can happen to your victim is the issue. It’s reckless, and its unacceptable.

  4. I think a law case could put pressure on the FA and teams and have the rethink their kick em approach.
    We don’t even have to win the case but if we ask a very high claim they risk having to pay up and this could enough to stop the thugs and the thug managers to give instructions to kick us.
    Also the Fa could order their refs to take care and to prevent those things as much as possible.

    3 is enough

  5. I think they should pass a “shoot at sight” order against Shameless Shawcross…and no m not joking…

  6. Do you know, for the first time ever i am asking myself “do i want us to win the World Cup”.Perhaps Spain with all their technical ability would be good,then we can turn round and say, do it the Arsenal way.
    I pray that we win the league,can you imagine all the pundits and reporters who we would have a go at,i have a list.
    The only reporter who said Arsenal would do well, and win the league was Oliver Kay of the Telegrapg or Times.

  7. Off topic but on Aaron: some 50.000 messages were sent to Aaron by Arsenal.com in just 3 days. Great.

  8. I don’t want to be nasty but you using the argument that ‘Arsenal are boys’ is a reason for Stoke to be sued implies Arsene Wenger is in loco parentis. And therefore IS IN CHARGE OF HIS CHILDREN’S WELFARE AND SAFETY.

    And I think you know full well how courts of law see parents, teachers, etc who expose children to adult pressures and cause them harm…….

    You need to think through both sides of the argument mate……

    I’m arguing from a legal angle, not putting a personal position down.

  9. I will be watching the world cup as a neutral, if i want to see good football, i doubt its going to be provided by England. I dont want to be sucked into cheering Gerrard every time he Dives, cheering Rooney every time he shouts at the ref, and cheering Capello for his questionable selection. The FA are screw ups, and i hope they are humiliated…..

  10. Some people have said Arsene should APOLOGISE to Shawcross!i’m still in shock about this.
    Remember ‘spitgate’ when the media kept showing Cesc when he was 10 apparently spitting on Michael Bollocks? funny how the previous Shawcross(he’s not that sort of player) tackles were never shown.
    All the best Rambo.
    £6m a year Capello thinks footballers are paid too much,lol!most managers and chairman have also lost the plot,not just chelsea players.

  11. Great defenders from the past must be appalled at the thug attempts to stop Arsenal. But when refs allow 10 tackles (on average) before an Arsenal opponent is booked yet book Arsenal players after 4/5 fouls (on average) then the message to sad and weak managers is clear. Kick Arsenal off the park. Don’t blame the poor sensitive legbreakers, who woudn’t take a Ferrari from a baby, blame the cowardly managers who can’t beat teams within the rules and spirit of the game and seek fame and fortune and fiancial rewards by cheating. Theirs is not the love of the game. How could you turn out rubbish teams like that if you love the game? Someone should tell the muppets- losing to a better team is no disgrace. That is what happens in all other sports. The best prevail. It is supposed to be that way. That is what sport is, a mechanism for the best to prevail. It is not a forum for cheats. Who are these moronic board members who revel in such trash? I would rather see Arsenal in the conference than have to behave with such lack of morals and decency. AW has raised the flag of acceptability in so many areas of the game and invited all to follow. The best of British and Continental culture. The problem is, the FA, Managers, Refs and Club Officials, many of the Media and Pundity don’t like the questions, pressures and standards being set. What you see is their frightened,collective organised resistance and response.

  12. Rhys,
    Why not write an article for the defence? (By the way agreat article The Law) I had questions in my head throughout about the defence angle. It seems these days you need to have that type of questioning because people are so thorough these days. It would be interesting….

  13. I must say that I thought this is a great article too, and very much to the point.

    I’m not sure of this next bit, but I think that FIFA regulations forbids clubs from taking legal action against other clubs – they have to go through the Court of Arbitration in Sport. But I could be wrong on this and I would like clarity. Certainty there have been one or two cases of players taking legal action – but clubs? Has a club ever taken legal action over an issue on a pitch?

    Please let me know.

    I was taken aback by the point Ibbs raised – that Wenger should apologise. I have not seen this in the press, and would be grateful to anyone who can point me in that direction.

    It makes me think that we ought to do an article on “All the Insults Against the Arsenal” – ranging from insults in the press to insults on the pitch. Not quite sure what is in there yet, but if you have an idea let me know.

    Finally, Walter and I will be meeting up at the Auld Triangle pub at around 2pm on saturday (the Benelux fans are coming to the game in force). If you approach the ground from Finsbury Park down St Thomas’ you’ll know the place. If passing by do see if you can spot us, and say hello. I’m probably the one wearing a hat, unless I’m not.

  14. What angers me is the way the media have once again swept this under the carpet. What I resent most is this idea that has been circulating that it was a 50/50 tackle. Anybody who watches the video can see this tackle is no way 50/50 Shawcross is NEVER going to get to this ball first. And even if he did, so what? The momentum and brutality of the tackle could still have broken Ramsey. For me it makes no difference if the ball is there or not, it was reckless endangerment. And the sad thing about it is Shawcross targets the player, blatantly, he isn’t looking for the ball, he has made up his mind to go through Ramsey. That IS malice. As for Lee Dixon (arsenal hero or not) this guy can go find a squalid little corner and rot for all I care. I dont know what his problem with Arsene is but he never says anything positive about him or Arsenal. Maybe he doesn’t want to seem bias but I think he has some deep resentment towards us. His latest dissmissive comment came on MOTD. He suggested Ramsey just wasn’t big enough, his bones not thick enough. It’s the type of analysis i’d expect from a 5 year old. F*ck off Lee, your bitterness for wenger is so transparent.

  15. Incidentally we are still playing with avatars. Under the current version, everyone gets something interesting except me, and I just get my name. This is not quite what I asked my colleague in IT to do.

  16. I was born in the UK, now live in Thailand, and really couldn’t give a shit about the England team, English players, or international matches either. I haven’t seriously watched a World Cup since England won – that tells you how much I enjoy it. However, I might just watch the England games this year in the hope they they get thrashed by some ‘lower level’ team.

    Aaron’s injury and the stupidity and xenophobia of the English press et al sicken me. There is no sportsmanship left in the English game and I feel that it may someday destroy the EPL. Whoever plays for the Gunners, whichever nationality they are, they should play the Arsenal way. Other, lower quality teams such as Stoke, Birmingham, Sunderland, Bolton, Blackburn, etc., simply cannot match our skill level so they go for brainless thuggery which everyone else in the UK seems to approve of.

    For me, I would support a court case on this ‘accident’. Something has to be done to stop this happening to our players and players of other teams. Go for it, I say.

  17. it is obvious you lot have not seen the pitch side footage of it because if you had then you wouldn’t be saying any of this because according to a sports reporter from the daily express it should not even been a foul never mind a red card,because shawcross could have got the injury himself,if that had happened then i wonder what you lot would be saying,NOT ALOT,as for arsene,one word-PRICK,don’t tackle us because we are arsenal and football is no longer a physical game but a sport for ballet dancers

  18. matt,

    there are level headed people (not tabloid hacks, mind you) out there who think that Shawcross tackle wasn’t a challenge but an assault.

    As for your other ridiculous point that Shawcross could have got the injury himself I ask you why should I pity a moron who would be at the receiving end of his own reckless behaviour?

    The only primadonnas are teams like Stoke, Bolton or Blackburn. They are protected by the referees and run to the press and complain about dirty Arsenal players when the tiniest of injury is inflicted to them. Dish out, but can’t take it. One word COWARDS.

  19. Good piece. The obvious question that must be asked is “what happens when Ryan Shawcross breaks ANOTHER leg?” and what if it is the leg of an England player next?

    Has any other player in history broken TWO legs? That is a serious question. I cannot think of any other players ever.

    Once I will admit could be down to bad luck etc etc. Twice the lad must be warned “if you ever do that again you will be banned from football for a very, very long time”.

    Instead the kid gets an England call-up. That is a great example to set. Don’t ever learn to tackle, break 2 legs (and come very close to 3 with an equally despicable tackle) and get called up for your country.

  20. Well, the pitch side reporter must have had some eyes and an even greater imagination (high on pot!)… If you DO see the bloody video its not even a so called 50/50… how can you call a situation 50/50 when they player has already tapped the ball yards ahead.. how can it be a 50/50 when there is no ball at the spot to win.. there was malice PERIOD! Its all about perspective, if you let a bunch of thugs like allardyce, pulis and Sick Arse Fucker analyse the tackle they are going to say it was ok, no malice and crap like that.. all bout perspective.. for Al Capone killing was a way of life but that didnt mean “The Law” let him go.. Thugs would have vouched for him.. you know the lad did his job, the lad is making his living..by hacking other ppl to death.. Am pretty pissed off that Arsenal aren’t taking the initiative to go to court with this.. we have a decent case.. let them analyse the tapes.. if the eggshell skull case holds water then so does this.. and Matt.. you seem to take the pitch Reporter’s word for granted aren’t you? your a friend of the pitch reporter? or are you a friend of JT? you two would make great buddies..

  21. Matt – you are a funny guy. Really. Or are you seriously asking what we would have said had Shawcross injured himself with that awful tackle. Well, provided Rasmey was okay we would have been laughing and saying “serves you right, you thug”. Seriously. The guy has history, he has broken a leg before, and tried to break Adebayor’s leg last year (youtube that tackle, it is an absolutely atrocious, despicable, disgusting tackle that should have been punished with a red card then and there).

    So you want us to believe a pitchside reporter from the Daily Express over our own eyes? No, sorry. That tackle was dangerous and intended to take the man out. Of course he didnt intend to break Ramsey’s legs but he intended clearly to take the man out because he had lost possession and clearly wasnt trying to win possession back.

    How many legs does Shawcross have to break before you admit the kid has a problem? Three? Four? Five? What if the next one is Rooney?

  22. If going to court to resolve the reckless nature of some of the tackling in the premier league helped improve the quality of the game and allowed the more technical players a chance to shine Arsene would be doing the English game a great favour.It would improve us at international level and give us a chance of winning something again.His views on spending in forball have been taken on board and regulations hopefully will be in place for 2013.Wanting whats best for the game and trying to set the right example will never make him popular though…………we might have to take our heads out of the sand!

  23. The Law: Very good post. I have been of the opinion that Shawcross should be sued; and if the FA or the Media try to highjack it, they will face legal action themselves. That is not to say that the case will automatically be won, but it will certainly put the focus firmly not only on the fairness (or lack thereof) of referees, but also on the reckless endangerment of the players on the pitch. The FA don’t like court cases. They will be forced to take measures to ensure that it never happens again. At least I know that someone had sued and got compensation in the English league before.

  24. This is an extract from a PI story that I found on the internet:
    “Back in March 2005, Hallows was plying his trade for Altrincham, then of the Blue Square North, when his career was ended in a horrific fashion. Shortly after coming on as a sub against Ashton United in a regular league match, an Ashton United player by the name of Danny White made a late block tackle on Hallows, breaking his right leg.

    The injury was so severe that it took half an hour for an ambulance to attend and treat Hallows. His heart stopped on the way to the hospital and, although he was revived, his footballing career was over.

    Hallows, now 35 and working in sales and as an Elvis impersonator, sued both Ashton United and Danny White. Two weeks ago, five years after the tackle, Judge Armitage found in favour of Hallows and deemed the challenge to be reckless, ordering Ashton to pay £32,000. With legal fees, the club face a bill for £130,000 – money they simply don’t have.”

    This proves that litigation is a clear option.

  25. @Rhys, Wenger is indeed in charge of the welfare and safety of his “children”. And he put them on a football field where he expects that his opponents will respect the rules and play accordingly.

    You cannot say that Wenger placed his players in harms way just by sending them out on the field. Are broken bones the norm in football?

  26. Yes, there is little sportsmanship left in football.

    It is acceptable for players to dive, provided they are regular England players.

    It is acceptable for players and manager to say, quite unabashedly, they they deliberately “rough up” other teams, simply because they believe it will unsettle them and prevent them from playing.

    Players who know a goal has been scored against them and can clearly see the ball has crossed the line, pretend that it hasn’t.

    Yet, there are some islands in this sea of muck, De Canio refusing to take a goal when it was not right to do so, and Arsenal agreeing to replay an FA cup game when their winning goal was scored after a throw in that shoild have been thrown to the other side.

    Football is no longer a sport, but a business and, as far as business goes, it will always be dog eats dog.

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