IT’s doubtful if anyone can remember Jack Smith playing for Reading Football Club before the last war.

I knew Jack in his later years, when he told me his experiences.

He was it seems, a tricky winger and early on in one match, he jinked his marking full-back and crossed the ball.

The full-back sidled up to him saying ‘do that again and you’ll finish up in the second row of the stand’. ‘He meant it’, Jack said, ‘so the rest of the game, I passed the ball as soon as I received it’.

Situations like that, when skilful players are denied the opportunity to shine, give me some sympathy with Manchester City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, who has called for protection by referees, of his team of talented players.

Referees, of course, can only apply the correct punishment for any fouls, they don’t commit them.

It cannot be denied that intimidating fouls have been encouraged over the years.

Tony Adams, in his excellent autobiography, relates how he was told by then Arsenal manager, George Graham, ‘at our first corner, rough up the opposing goalkeeper,’ because he was suspect with high balls.

We don’t normally see teams these days employing a ‘destroyer’ – players like Chelsea’s ‘Chopper’ Harris, Leeds United’s Norman ‘bite your legs’ Hunter and England’s World Cup hero, Nobby Stiles, but there are some still willing to ‘use muscle’.

Burnley’s manager, Sean Dyche, says ‘we do what we can to win matches’. Perhaps, Rochdale players in their FA Cup tie with Tottenham, showed one way, by harassing their more talented opponents into making mistakes.

In Manchester City’s FA Cup tie against Wigan, there was only one horror tackle. At speed, off the ground, so no control, high feet, studs showing. It was, however, committed by a City player, Fabian Delph, who was sent off by referee Andrew Taylor.

Guardiola went berserk on the touchline.

It seems his call for the referees to take greater measures against such tackles, only refers to those against his players and not those by them.