There has been much rancour between SPL managers and coaches, and referees this season. Jim Gannon, the manager of Motherwell has been particularly outspoken in his criticism of refs. This has led to a war of words, conducted in the press between Gannon and SFA refereeing supervisor Hugh Dallas.
“I sent two letters to him and he didn’t reply”
“Oh yes I did”
“Oh no he didn’t” etc.etc.
The upshot of all this is that the refs are contemplating a strike.
Isn’t this situation just a microchosm of the way society has gone over recent generations? Referees, like police or indeed anyone in authority are no longer allowed to excercise discretion or common sense. As part of this box ticking litigious society the laws of the game have to be applied literally and punctiliously, and if they aren’t there is a supervisor in the crowd who will want to know why not.
To give an instance of what I mean, Rangers player Kris Boyd was booked for a goal celebration recently. Opposing fans had been having a go at the player for being a bit overweight so when Boyd scored he lifted his shirt and patted his stomach. All perfectly harmless of course but the ref bound by some obscure rule was obliged to book the player.
And football is supposed to be entertainment.
The dispute that has arisen between the managers and refs is more to do with doubtful decisions but it is all coming from the same place. The bosses are under intolerable pressure to produce results, the refs are under pressure to apply the laws, the fans are under pressure at their work because they encounter the same culture and as a result they take their frustration out on players, managers, refs, directors and pie sellers.
This is Tom “Tiny” Wharton. Tiny was a referee in Scotland in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s.He was 6′ 4″ and commanded respect from players and not just because of his size. He was firm, assertive and imposing. However he also applied common sense and had a great sense of humour.
When Tiny died in 2005, former Celtic captain and manager, Billy McNeil gave this tribute.
“He was a wonderful personality in Scottish football”.
“He refereed games the way he wanted to referee games,” McNeill recalled.
“He did not bother whether the rules were strictly applied. He had his own rules.
“I was going to say that he was everywhere on the pitch, but that was not Tom’s style,”
“He just strode imperiously wherever he wanted to go.”
“He just used his size and his personality and, for me, he was just different class.”
The way that managers and refs are behaving these days is not a reflection on them. Rather it is indicitave of the culture in which they operate, the culture of “excellence” (Christ! that’s a whole new post of its own!) the culture of instant results, of blame, bureaucracy and litigation.
Oh, for a Tiny Wharton!
Sadly Tiny would not last five minutes in today’s game.
Apart from anything else, a ref with an ironic nickname?
Come on! you’re having a laugh!
Or not as the case may be.
Filed under: Football, Scotland | Tagged: hugh dallas, jim gannon, referees, tom tiny wharton | Leave a comment »