A player bumped into Ian Black and the response was instantaneous. "He spent the next five minutes trying to kick him," says a coach who watched the scene unfold. "There is a wee bit of the small-man syndrome about him. He's quick to take offence and quicker to take revenge."
This image of the Rangers midfielder is not restricted to the relative privacy of the training ground. Black, now 28, has a history of sporting indiscretions. He has been given 90 yellow and five red cards in a career that stretches back to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2004 and includes subsequent spells at Hearts and now Rangers. "You have to keep a lid on him," said the coach, speaking under condition of anonymity. "He has this wee bit of arrogance, which is good when he is on the ball, but it can be bad when he does not listen to instructions or when his discipline just goes."
However, the alleged betting offences dwarf any misdemeanour on the pitch. Black has become a target for opposition fans and, indeed, those supporting Scotland. He was booed when coming on a substitute against Australia on his international debut last year.
In this respect, Black is adhering to the famous and ignoble tradition of the wee man who annoys fans with his behaviour on the park. This has included a tackle on Nikica Jelavic, the then Rangers player, in 2010 that led to the Croatian striker undergoing surgery on his ankle ligaments. Jelavic said then: 'I'm mad at him, of course I am angry. It was an obvious intent to hit me - he had no chance of getting the ball. He could have tried to stop me by pulling my shirt, but he was going to stop me any way he could."
This has been the lament of a series of players. Black has seemed to enjoy his notoriety. "The game has changed. My old man says some of the tackles nowadays people wouldn't have thought twice about and that's frustrating. It doesn't help when you get players rolling around, exaggerating and trying to get you booked rather than getting up and getting on with it," he once said. "But referees are doing their job and you've got to try to be nice about it. A few bookings I've had have been harsh but my reputation over the past couple of years doesn't help, which is why I've had to work on it."
This work has been, at best, patchy. There is always a feeling that Black is but a moment away from being shown a card. The Scottish Cup final of 2012 is almost a perfect illustration of his contrary nature. He was hugely influential as Hearts pummelled Hibernian 5-1, pinging crossfield passes and prompting a series of attacks from midfield. Yet he was extremely fortunate to be on the pitch. His elbow to the head of Leigh Griffiths in the 12th minute could have been met by a red card. Instead, Black remained on the park to prosper and then celebrate.
His image as pantomime villain has not been discouraged by the player. A story of his taking up a part-time career of painting and decorating while his wages at Hearts were delayed was followed by him displaying a provocative T-shirt to the Hibs fans after the 2012 New Year derby. Hearts won the match 3-1 at Easter Road and Black lifted his top to reveal a slogan proclaiming: "I'll paint this place maroon."
Poor tackles and provocative behaviour hardly make Black a unique footballer. A son and grandson of professional footballers, the Tranent midfielder has the strut of so many in the modern game. But he now faces disciplinary action that far outstrips any of his previous encounters with the authorities.
He was cleared at Edinburgh Sherriff Court in February of last year of possessing cocaine in a nightclub after witnesses failed to attend. His lawyer said Black had undergone drug tests by the Scottish Football Association and UEFA under the terms of his contract and all had been found negative. He now faces a further examination that could have profound and perhaps fatal consequences for his career.
There were suggestions last night that Black had been reported after using a telephone account. If so, the details of the wagers would be precise and traceable to a bank account. The SFA charges suggest that the football authorities have detailed information. A bookmaking source said last night: "There can be no surprise in the suggestion that players like a punt or even that some Scottish players have a bet on football. But it hardly takes Einstein to have a bet on matches without being caught. You have a mate put it on and you bet in cash. It happens. It is then impossible to trace the wager back to the footballer."
The source added that the only surprise in the charges was that the alleged offences stretched back to 2006. "If guilty, this would be a spectacular case of pushing your luck," he said. A player, who knows Black, would not comment on his friend's betting habits but said: "He is daft rather than bad."
The sometime reckless tackler is also facing the biggest challenge of his career.