Issue I Feel Sorry for That Referee

As told by Michael Wood

I often wonder what makes someone become a Referee.

Is it a desire to ruin Saturday afternoons on a massive scale? Is it the need to control grown men using only a bit of metal, a pea and two bits or card? Is it a self flagination that sees them rewarded with mass loathing? Long time readers will know – I just do not understand those guys.

Sure enough I have no more understanding as to why the Referee against Morecambe ignored a blatant backpass as I do why the man in the middle against Barnet allowed play to continue with Mark Bower down injured in our own box in a way that precluded a shot at goal from the visitors. I do not know why Referee’s do what they did against Hereford this year – I have an idea or two – but I understand enough to comment and criticise and do in great measure.

Tonight though I had that worst thing one can get for Referees – I have sympathy.

Eddie Ilderton was a rubbish Referee but then again he is doing his job in League Two on a Tuesday night in a meaningless game so perhaps one should expect nothing less than the litter of bad offside calls for both sides and the generally random nature of the decisions but my sympathy comes from his having to deal with the likes of Barnet FC.

How does Ilderton deal with players who rather than put a ball out of play when an opposition player is on the floor in the six yard box? He knows that should a shot at goal be taken – and it was – that he has a duty of care written into rules that means he has to blow the whistle and stop the game lest Bower – for it was he – gets beaned by the ball or by Scott Loach diving. For sure the Referee fumbled his decision but Barnet’s players intercepted a clearance that would have taken the ball out of play and built and attack. How does the Referee deal with such a lack of sportsmanship?

This paled in the last minutes of the game when after Eddie Johnson was caught in a clash of heads Ilderton gave a drop ball which he – one assumes – asked the City player Kyle Nix if he would allow the drop ball to be uncontested to allow Barnet to belt the ball back to City’s keeper but rather than that Neal Bishop hit the ball for a throw in near the corner flag and Barnet contested the throw in.

What does a Referee do in the face of such an appalling lack of sportsmanship where a player makes an agreement and then breaks it seconds later? “If they don’t challenge will you kick this back to their keeper?”, “Yes Ref.” He does opposite. How does one deal with that short of Ilderton pointing at Bishop and saying what must have been going through his head – that Bishop is a bit of a sh*t.

I have sympathy because my comments on Referees normally are based on the idea that they have a job of making sure that things are done evenly and that they should be able to do that but that job is made impossible when players act like Barnet’s players did.

Of course having broken the agreement Ilderton could have blown his whistle and booked Bishop for ungentlemanly conduct giving a free kick to City but he did not – because he was a rubbish Referee – but I felt sorry for him nevertheless.