There was also something of an unsavoury unwritten law that within the first five minutes of a game, the referee would turn a blind eye to a defender giving the opposing centre-forward an early whack for the sole purpose of 'letting him know he was there'.
Sometimes the discretion shown by the man in black would extend to the full 90 minutes as players, usually skilful ones, would suffer at the hands, and sometimes boots, of hatchet men who were given carte blanche to compensate for their own lack of footballing ability by employing thuggery against a more talented opponent.
While Argentina's Diego Maradona was one who was apt at employing the dark arts, you have to wonder if he would have demonstrated them at all, had he been afforded better protection from the officials. Time and again he was singled out for a dose of the rough stuff which usually went unpunished.
In the 1982 World Cup, Maradona came up against Italy's Claudio Gentile who proceeded to spend the entire match using him as a punchbag. The Argentine came off at the end with bruises, cuts and bits of his shirt ripped. He would later remark on Gentile by saying: "He beat the s*** out of me". Similar treatment in Argentina's next match against Brazil saw Maradona snap and be sent off for retaliation - many remarked how bizarre it was that the referee clamped down on that but not what had gone on before.
Referees not doing their jobs - namely protecting players from serious foul play can be not only be a danger to the victimised player, their refusal to do that can prove to be counter-productive. When playing for Barcelona, Maradona had his ankle broken thanks to a shocking lunge from Athletic Bilbao's Andoni Goikoetxea - a man who revelled in the nickname 'The Butcher of Bilbao' having broken German midfielder Berndt Schuster's leg in this fixture two years previously. When the two sides met again, Maradona sought his revenge and, with the help of his Barca team-mates, orchestrated a mass brawl on the pitch against the Basques with the Argentinian decking at least three Bilbao players with drop kicks. Disgraceful scenes of course but one suspects such an act of revenge would not have been contemplated had better protection from referees had been forthcoming.
Maradona is also known for his 'Hand of God' goal when he cheated to put Argentina ahead against England in the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup. English fans have been raging about this ever since - an understandable reaction given the 'goal' proved to be pivotal as Argentina won the match 2-1. However, earlier in that game, Maradona had been the victim of a flying elbow to the face by England defender Terry Fenwick. Again, had protection been offered by the referee who should have sent Fenwick off for his assault, would the self-labelled divine act of the hand have been used in revenge later on? Probably not.
Other examples exist. Leeds United under Don Revie were a very skilful side who were well-organised and a potent goalscoring threat. However, many outwith Yorkshire do not look back on them too fondly as they had a dark, nasty edge to them.
Brian Clough famously labelled them as cheats for their appalling disciplinary record and famously told the team, after he had bizarrely been chosen to take over from Revie, to put all their medals in the bin as they had "won them by cheating". Kevin Keegan once was sent off for retaliating against Billy Bremner after one left hook too many made the Liverpool forward snap. Grudges held by opposing players were held long after that Leeds side broke up. Emlyn Hughes of Liverpool once stated in the Daily Mirror back in 1992 that he hoped they would get "torn apart" in a game against Sheffield Wednesday (they didn't as they won 6-1) - no doubt the former England captain was still reeling from being decked by Leeds' Allan Clarke in a match back in the 1970s.
There are many other incidents to rattle off - especially the shocking 'clothesline' assault from German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battiston, during the 1982 World Cup semi-final, which hospitalised the Frenchman. Thankfully, the game's authorities have sought to clamp down on such acts of brutality which, if committed on the street, would otherwise see you spend a stint in a jail cell.
Some have remarked that the beaks have gone too far in stamping out such behaviour. They may have a point as a numbers of referees have experienced 'itchy trigger syndrome' when flashing a red card for the flimsiest of fouls. However, we can't lose fact that in terms of eradicating dangerous lunges and flying elbows and fists, the policy has been beneficial on the whole. Which makes the events of last weekend in Scotland, very peculiar.
A red card surely? After all, this type of foul is what the game's authorities have been striving to eradicate from the pitch. Player protection is paramount is it not? Not according to the referee of this fixture Brian Colvin. No doubt with a mindset firmly entrenched in the 1970s, Colvin thought nothing more than to give Talbot a yellow card.
Nicholson could not continue and was seen afterwards with his face covered in boot marks and stitches. Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was understandably upset at what had happened, both with the foul and the lack of appropriate punishment saying: "I have told the referee exactly how I feel about it.
"Sam's not in great condition. He'll be fine in a few days but the boy has puncture marks all over his face.
"I didn't think it was a great tackle, you get rough play at this level and sometimes players can go over the line."
A bad weekend for officialdom was made worse when Rangers captain Lee McCulloch was shown extraordinary leniency in the form of a booking despite a two-part assault on Raith Rovers' Dale Carrick. First, the Light Blues man smashed an elbow into the back of Carrick's head when going for a high ball. Then, as the Raith striker fell on the ground, he felt the force of McCulloch stamping on him.
As with the Talbot incident, the referee, Bobby Madden, only deemed McCulloch's vile actions as being worthy of a yellow card. Carrick tried to soldier on afterwards but had to be substituted not long after. McCulloch meanwhile was not taught a lesson which he and the game needs.
The Rangers player has form for such behaviour and it would not be inaccurate to say that he is a serial offender when it comes to flying elbows and foul play. Yet time and again, his acts of violence are indulged by referees and the Scottish Football Association. A stamp on Celtic's John Guidetti went unpunished the previous week and there have been numerous occasions where a blind eye had been turned on his roughhouse approach to man-marking.
Yet this throwback to the 70s enjoys football's version of 'diplomatic immunity' from the lengthy suspension that his antics deserve. While such behaviour continues to go unpunished, many careers of aspiring, skilful young footballers remain at risk as long as this man is allowed to assault to his heart's content and as long as the referees and the SFA show as much bite as a paper tiger.
Returning to the poor man's ninja-display at Livingston, despite Talbot already being 'punished' at the time with Colvin's yellow card serving as the equivalent of a 'let off', it appears the SFA are willing to act. No doubt they have been embarrassed by the publicity generated from the above clip going viral online and feel they can haul the captain of Livingston over the coals with more confidence than the skipper of Rangers. It would seem that they are to take retrospective action against the defender. They have, however, kept a vow of silence on McCulloch forgetting that he is just a mere football player not some gangland hitman who will get them if they try anything with him.
With regards to Talbot, anything less than a three match ban will be seen as a cop out - they've already done that with McCulloch and a second display of 'playing chicken' will make the SFA a bigger laughing stock than it already is. Given that Hearts play Livingston again at Tynecastle this coming Saturday, if Talbot remains off the hook for this, vengeance could well be on the minds of Nicholson and his team-mates.
If exacted, Livingston, along with many others, will no doubt call foul but when you let down those you are meant to protect, do not feign surprise when players go looking for retribution.
Skilful players have their breaking point as well.