Midfield enforcer Marvin Bartley today vowed never to change the way he plays, insisting justice has been done after he won a second appeal against a red card.
After going more than five years without being sent off, the Hibs star found himself heading for an early bath twice in just three Championship matches.
Bartely was left shaking his head in disbelief as referee Nick Walsh flashed the red card at him following a challenge on Ayr United’s Jamie Adams and was clearly distraught when he suffered the same fate last weekend, Stephen Finnie sending him off after he clashed with Raith Rovers Bobby Barr.
However, the Easter Road club backed their man on both occasions, lodging appeals and winning them as Walsh, after reviewing video evidence of the incident, admitted he’d got it wrong, while his claim for wrongful dismissal at Stark’s Park was upheld by the SFA’s judicial panel.
But, joking he was beginning to feel he couldn’t even burp on the pitch for fear of falling foul of the officials, the 30-year-old insisted that as frustrated as he was at those decisions, he’ll continue to play in the same way – with the full backing of boss Neil Lennon.
Bartley said: “I won’t change, nothing will change me. If I do I’d be worthless to the boys. I have to play the game I have played throughout my career. I’ve had two red cards but they have both been over-turned so I will go about it the way I always do.
“There’s always the thing about the guy who goes to court and is acquitted, only for people to say ‘he got away with it’ rather than accept he’s innocent and perhaps people will say I am lucky to get away with it again.
“But I’m not. They weren’t red cards. Anyone who has watched the incidents again knows I haven’t got away with anything. It shows I am not that type of player.
“It’s been a feeling of justice rather than relief because I knew they were not red cards.”
Lennon, who had claimed to be “gobsmacked” at Bartley’s latest sending off, revealed he hadn’t yet spoken to him about the outcome of his appeal, but added: “If I do then I’ll be telling him he’s in the team to be our powerhouse. Don’t change the way you play.
“He’s not a dirty player. He is very strong and plays the game the right way. He’s honest and there will be no change in his style – he is in our team to do a specific job.
“He can feel good about himself, he knows it wasn’t about him, it was just the wrong decision.”
However, Bartley believes referees should give themselves a few seconds to consider what they’ve seen rather than make a snap decision, believing he’d have avoided being sent off in each instance had the ref done so.
He said: “In the first one there was no contact. The referee sees my leg go out, their player goes into the air and the red card comes out. Last Saturday the card was out before I touched the floor. He’s thought it was a red card and for the life of me I can’t understand why. I was running, getting into my stride. Their player was running across me and I was trying to get out of his way. I’m on the floor and their player is calling me a diver.
“I thought the red card was for him, but then the ref said it was for me. I was distraught, there was a natural shock that it was shown to me.
“Then in the dressing-room shock turns to frustration and the more you think about it the more you begin to question yourself. You wonder, ‘did I stamp on him?’ even although you know you didn’t. You wonder because the man in the middle has sent you off.
“I know the ref the first time changed his mind. I don’t know this time, but I think if he saw it again he’d know he didn’t have much choice.”
Team-mate John McGinn also had a red card rescinded last season, the disciplinary tribunal ruling that referee Kevin Clancy had got it wrong, the players backed to the hilt by the Easter Road club.
Bartley said: “The club look at these incidents first and decide whether to appeal. It’s good to get them rescinded when the wrong decision has been made but you would rather have 11 men on the pitch rather than ten.
“I’d hope refs give themselves a bit more thinking time between tackle and red card.”
Bartley’s first red card came as Hibs led Ayr United 1-0, only for Lennon’s players to lose while the Easter Road side were left to play more than 50 minutes a man short against Raith which, naturally, leads to the feeling that those decisions have proved costly even if the Capital club do head the table at the end of the first quarter of the season.
Bartley said: “I am not saying if I was on the pitch we’d have won both games, but you have more chance of doing so if you have 11 men on the park rather than ten. I think it has cost us points and that’s really frustrating.
“We’re top and if the season finishes today we are champions but, obviously, we’d rather be points ahead than leading only by goal difference.”
Staying top is the objective tomorrow when Hibs make a second trip across the Forth in a week to take on Dunfermline at East End Park, Bartley insisting taking all three points is the objective – as well as him being on the pitch at the end of the game.
He said: “I’m delighted to be available if the gaffer picks me and if I do play I won’t be going out there worried. I’ll be playing my usual game as always.”