a soccer phrase: ‘where’s your white stick?’

The British- and Irish-English phrase where’s your white stick? is used to express disagreement with the referee during a soccer match.

The allusion is, of course, to the white walking stick carried by a blind person, both to locate obstacles and to identify him or her as blind.

The earliest occurrence of the phrase that I have found is from the column Crofter’s Notes: Topical Comments on Local Football, published in the Blyth News Ashington Post (Blyth, Northumberland, England) of Thursday 28th March 1935:

Football Humour
Many are the instances of subtle humour which sparkle from a football crowd, and with the poor referee, of course, mostly the target.
Here is one from last Saturday’s Tyneside League match at Croft Park. A Walker Park supporter, who viewed the match from the pavilion, was often at variance with the decisions given, and eventually let forth in a loud voice—“Say ref. where’s your white stick?

The phrase occurs in Nice girls are getting behind the ball, by Julia Llewellyn Smith, published in the Irish Independent (Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland) of Saturday 16th July 1994:

“Not again,” I should cry, as I return home clutching a video of Brief Encounter, to find my boyfriend slumped in front of Belgium v Saudi Arabia. “I think they’d look better in a lighter shade of blue,” I am meant to muse, just as the ref holds up a red card. Instead, I am more likely to grab a can of beer from the fridge and start quizzing him intently on the number of yellow cards that have been handed out. “You big girl’s blouse,” I roar as another sweaty man flails on the ground. “Offside, offside,” I squeal. “Where’s your white stick?

In British, Irish and Australian English, the phrase is also used to express disagreement with the umpire during a cricket match—as illustrated by the following from Alex Mitchell’s London Notebook, published in The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales) of Sunday 16th May 1993:

The game of cricket is under threat from a new humiliation – the televisual umpire.
Call me an old fogey, but I reckon if this gadgetry is accepted the game will be diminished. At a stroke, the marvellous controversies which filled every ground, front room and pub when an umpire failed to raise his finger will be ended.
Half the fun was shouting at the umpire, “Get some binoculars, you galah” 1 or “Go to Gibb and Beemans” 2 or “Where’s your white stick and labrador, you mug?”

1 The Australian noun galah denotes a cockatoo, and, figuratively, a stupid person.
2 Gibb and Beeman is an Australian optometry firm.

A Football Referee Mobbed and Shamefully Treated.—from The Illustrated Police News (London, England) of Saturday 24th April 1897:

A Football Referee Mobbed and Shamefully Treated - The Illustrated Police News (London, England) - 24 April 1897

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