Sadly the days when there is an almost unquestioning respect for rugby league referees seem to be coming to an end.
As this column appears in a Huddersfield paper many will assume we are talking about one particular individual and a certain Challenge Cup tie, but my point is a far more general and, unfortunately, a far wider reaching one.
Now I may be accused of trying to use the 20-20 vision of hindsight cloaked in the hue of rose-tinted glasses, but when I was a youngster watching the 13-a-side code the men in black (and not vivid green or pink) carried a certain air of distinction.
As always fans would dispute decisions and give match officials a verbal battering, but there was also a tacit understanding that these men knew what they were doing.
I am thinking of the likes of Wakefield’s Fred Lindop, Widnes’ Mick Naughton and Huddersfield’s very own Billy Thompson, to name but three, who to me seemed to command respect whether you agreed with their decisions or not – and Billy was given an MBE for his services to the game.
As I have mentioned before my dad blew the whistle and ran the line for many years with these very men and he used to say of Lindop that it was hard to argue with Fred’s decisions because he always had an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time to make the call.
And all of this was achieved without the assistance of television evidence and interminable re-runs on a big screen.
The position we now seem to be in is that we have a crop of referees who are gaining little respect from fans and players alike, and some of their number seem barely able to make a decision without the assistance of the ‘square in the air’ – appearing all too happy to hand the responsibility over to someone else.
I am in agreement with those RL fans who don’t want to see the game wander down the path of association football where players mob referees who are regularly given dog’s abuse from the stands, but the problem with respect is that in the end it has to be earned and if actions and approaches don’t command respect then why should it be given?
To simplify my argument I will sum up by referring to a man who once very kindly gave me half-a-crown (it was a long while ago) towards buying a train set I was keen on – Leeds referee Eric Clay.
Clay’s decisions didn’t always meet with everyone’s approval, the Australians who played in the Ashes series of 1963 will attest to that, but he did command respect from everyone.
Let’s face it can you think of any of the current bunch of top flight RL referees who would be worthy of a nickname like “Sergeant Major”?
Yorkshire's competitive season gets under way in cricket’s County Championship in Somerset on Sunday and the Tykes will rightly feel they have the chance to win some silverware this summer.
After running champions Durham close last season, Yorkshire were already in good shape before adding the talents of Kiwi batsman Kane Williamson.
Again a factor for the Tykes will be just how long the likes of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan will spend on international duty, but they certainly would appear to have enough depth in their squad to compete in every competition.
So as a Lancashire follower I can only admit to some jealousy.
The Red Rose have already got started and even a ‘five-for’ from the Dingle, sorry, Burnley Express that is Jimmy Anderson, Lancashire are already on the back foot against Nottinghamshire as fears about the batting frailties in the line-up seem to have instantly come to fruition.
But the Twenty20 Roses clashes are set to make appalling viewing this season.
For some reason Yorkshire have settled on some kind of mauve monstrosity as their colours for this season – the shirt seems to have little to do with the county’s traditional colours.
And it would be nice to crow that Lancashire have a better kit, but sadly we haven’t.
The saving grace is that at least it is red, but on the down side it looks more like a football shirt than a cricket top and it has a lightning design in it that gives the appearance of those old prisoners clothes with the arrows as a pattern.
Maybe they are considering changing the team’s name to Lancashire Lags?