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As I say, I’ve been busy and just catching up with the news. I saw that the Celtic game on Saturday had six goals.

I naturally thought there must have been a controversial decision or two there. Maybe there should have been a penalty that wasn’t awarded? Perhaps someone was sent off unfairly? Surely at least one of the goals must have been offside?

I scanned the sports pages. Not one single complaint from Neil Lennon!

Perhaps the referees have suddenly dropped their collective bias against Celtic. This is surely the only reason that they have won the league?

Reffin’ Hell!

It’s as if the role of a ref in matches involving the Old Firm isn’t difficult enough already. Now they are to monitor sectarian singing from the crowd during the match and report on that too.

Fans of all clubs think that referees already have it in for them.

Last season relations between the clubs (and one club in particular) and refs broke down so badly that they (the refs) went on strike.

I can only conclude that Scottish football’s administrators are completely insane.

Meanwhile as another, admittedly idiotic, fan is found guilty of ‘sectarian hatred’ on the internet, one wonders if a sense of proportion is being lost amidst the desire to eradicate this aspect of the game in Scotland.

Are there enough prisons for people who insult others on the internet?

Alternative Solution?

I see that the inevitable has happened and Dougie McDonald has resigned as a referee after admitting to being economical with the truth in dealings with Celtic boss Neil Lennon.

On the resignation of Hugh Dallas over forwarding THAT email, I do wonder why they didn’t just move him to another office and pretend nothing had happened?

Bore of the Year (Part 1888)

One wonders if Celtic, or Neil Lennon have in fact ever benefited in a match from a wrong decision by Dougie MacDonald, or indeed any ref, or the intervention of or consultation with an assistant. Perish the thought that there would be any professional who would claim a foul had been committed where there was none, to get a fellow pro sent off.

The Old Firm BOTH get more of the decisions than other teams because of the lumpen baying mobs that howl in anguish at every nuance against them – real or perceived.

Fans of other clubs and neutrals know this and that is why the Celtic crusade is gathering no support from outwith their own ranks.

Was the now famous incident a penalty? No it wasn’t. Did Celtic win the game? Yes they did.

So McDonald gave a wrong decision, realised immediately and changed it and like most folk at their work tried to cover up his mistake with an explanation that was economical with the truth.

So he should resign?

Scottish Referees – New Shock!

Click on image to enlarge.

Aw Ref!

At the cutting edge of events as always.

Thanks Bobby.

The Umpire Strikes Back

I very rarely watch fitba on the TV but yesterday went to my pall Stevie’s house (he has Sky Sports) to watch the much hyped in advance Old Firm game. Most of the pre match hype had been concerning the suggestion from a “source” inside Celtic Park that there was a vendetta against Celtic by referees. Perhaps the ordering off of Celtic’s Scott Brown could lend some credence to that argument. However Brown breenged with his head towards Rangers Kyle Lafferty. Lafferty, who is surely one of the worst players ever to pull on a Rangers shirt ( A complete disgrace on and off the park) responded in the way he has done before in such situations – by falling to the ground in a completely unconvincing crumpling movement. The ref missed Lafferty’s part in the drama and he stayed on the park. The ref, as if to balance things out, also missed two penalty claims by the home side within a second of each other.

The radio phone ins went into meltdown after the game which saw Rangers win 1-0 with a last gasp goal. To their credit several Celtic fans agreed with manager Tony Mowbray’s pre match assertion that claims of refereeing bias were nonsense. However several were in denial that Celtic simply weren’t good enough to win the game and blamed conspiratorial forces of working against them.

Sir Donald Bradman, arguably the finest cricketer of the twentieth century was once asked about umpires thus:

“Sir Donald, in your experience, are complaints about umpiring usually made by the losing team?”



“Yes. In my experience, complaints about umpiring are always made by the losing team.”

Reffin’ Hell

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.

Sons 1 Peterhead 0

It was the Steven Nicholls show in front of a diehard only audience at the Rock last night.

Who he?

Mr Nicholls in his favourite pose.

He was the ref who was publicly criticised by Aberdeen FC for ordering off two Aberdeen players and booking a total of eight other players in the game against Hibernian in November.

Last night I lost count of the cards he waved about but it was at least seven. One arose from a Sons player complaining about the ref bringing back a promising attack so that a Peterhead player, not interfering with play in any way could be treated.

As if a twenty second delay in treatment would have mattered.

The resultant bounce up predictably saw the ball lobbed back to the Sons keeper.

One minute later he awarded the penalty which won the game which presumably was for a push/hold on Roddy Hunter by Stuart Smith.

I suppose it’s panto season but was it a penalty?

Oh no it wasn’t!

Obviously it was folly for players on both sides to be arguing with the ref when they knew what a pedantic prat he was but really the man in the middle reduced the entertainment value to zero.

Mind you he had a lot of help from the teams, the football was dire too.

It didn’t have to be reduced very far.

Referees – Coloured Judgement?

This is from a fascinating article in the New Scientist

IMAGINE you are an experienced martial arts referee. You are asked to score a number of taekwondo bouts, shown to you on video. In each bout, one combatant is wearing red, the other blue. Would clothing colour make any difference to your impartial, expert judgement? Of course it wouldn’t.

Yet research shows it almost certainly would. Last year, sports psychologists at the University of Münster, Germany, showed video clips of bouts to 42 experienced referees. They then played the same clips again, digitally manipulated so that the clothing colours were swapped round. The result? In close matches, the scoring swapped round too, with red competitors awarded an average of 13 per cent more points than when they were dressed in blue (Psychological Science, vol 19, p 769). “If one competitor is strong and the other weak, it won’t change the outcome of the fight,” says Norbert Hagemann, who led the study. “But the closer the levels, the easier it is for the colour to tip the scale.”

So I hear you ask, how does this apply to football?

“Red also appears to exert its influence in team games. Last year, a study of 56 seasons of English soccer, led by Martin Attrill at the University of Plymouth, UK, found that, on average, teams whose first-choice kit was red finished higher in the league and won more home games than teams in other colours – which might go some way to explaining why Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal have won 38 out of 63 league titles between them since the second world war (Journal of Sports Sciences, vol 26, p 577).

Thanks Ref!

Thanks Ref!

An unpublished analysis by Hill and Barton of the Euro 2004 soccer finals in Portugal found that teams who had red as the main colour in one of their kits won more often and scored more goals when playing in that strip.”

I’m sure Ken Fitlike will be along to point out exceptions!

Meanwhile it isn’t just refs who are influenced by red strips. This article would seem to suggest that they strike fear into goalkeepers too. The bad news for Dumbarton is that white (see new strip) is seen as rather less intimidating.

I wonder if there are any plans to do a separate Scottish study involving two particular colours? 8)


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