It’s a tough job but someone has to do it
IT’S ironic that the football authorities are running a “Respect Campaign” at a time when criticism of referees seems to be at an all-time high.
When I was a lad respect came automatically.
I was always taught to accept referees’ decisions – and come to think of it cricket umpires too.
Far too much pressure is being heaped on those who have to make instant decisions, and it’s unfair to make a tough job even tougher.
I’m thinking Stuart Attwell here, and Billy Bowden and Russell Tiffin.
Attwell, one of the youngest referees ever to handle a Premiership game, was castigated – nay crucified – for his performance at the Wigan-West Ham game during which he flashed two red and seven yellow cards.
Steve Bruce said he actually felt sorry for a man clearly not ready to step up to such a high level.
I agree, but the fault lies with those who have fast-tracked him, and with players who do their utmost to undermine authority and see how far they can go in getting away with things.
Retired players who performed their art in the days when Norman Hunter, Ron Harris, Dave Mackay and Tommy Smith were making Jack the Ripper look like a choirboy, had total respect for the likes of Gordon Hill, Neil Midgley and Roger Kirkpatrick who could trade merry quips with them throughout 90 minutes.
Even the best referees can have their confidence shattered by constant harping at every decision they make and exposure to national media criticism.
Similarly I think the advent of “referral decisions” in cricket is appallingly misguided.
Every time a player goes for a referral he is basically accusing an umpire of making a mistake.
With replay after replay on the screens, multitudinous angles, arrows, rulers and not invincible technology, umpires are targets for potential abuse from players, spectators and commentators.
We’re supposed to be admiring the performers not the supporting cast.
Even the euphoria is taken away for a bowler who has to wait before he can high five anyone or a batsman in need of a reprieve.
I’ve always advocated technology for goalline decisions in football and run outs in cricket, but I fear it’s being taken into unnecessary areas of sport and is in danger of being misguided as well as demeaning the traditional art of decision making.
Legends agree on wicket
SIR Vivian Richards and Geoffrey Boycott, who can’t understand why he hasn’t been knighted, didn’t always see eye to eye when they were two of the outstanding batsmen in county cricket, but they were on the same wavelength the other day.
Both described the Queen’s Park Oval wicket in Trinidad as “atrocious.”
Such words are usually aimed at fiery, spiteful tracks but in this case Richards lamented the docile nature of a strip that Boycott’s grandmother could have made a ton on.
“It’s wrong that batsmen come to the crease knowing they can fill their boots,” said Sir Viv – probably wishing he could come out of retirement.
Boycott, whose eyes would have lit up at the prospect of adding another century to his collection, said the Port of Spain was “downright appalling.”
Times were when Headingley was criticised but at least you got a good contest there and the probability of a result.
Wickets like the ones in Barbados and Trinidad will be the death knell of test cricket because they virtually guarantee there won’t be a result other than a draw.
Wembley should be a one-stop shop
TALKING of tradition I’m totally on the side of Everton manager David Moyes when he says the FA Cup Final should be the only match in the competition played at Wembley.
Semi-finals should be reserved for Villa Park, Old Trafford, the Emirates or Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and the like.
Football’s blue riband day meant so much more when only two sets of players graced the biggest stage of all.
Okay, last season it gave the players of Barnsley and West Brom, as well as finalists Portsmouth and Cardiff, the chance to play on Wembley’s green sward, but that is not sufficient excuse in my book for reducing the romance of the so-called greatest knock-out competition in the world.
Moyes is delighted his team is going back there for the first time in 14 years, but equally scathing about making the venue less attractive the more it becomes attainable.