Rob Styles exclusive: how I sleep at night


Imagine it: Tommy Sorensen did his job and saved Kenwyne’s header. Healy fluffed his chance in the dying seconds. 0-0 instead of 2-0. What would we have thought of Rob Styles and his assistant after their criminal failure to see anything wrong with Danny Pugh doing Tommy’s job and saving Steed Malbranque’s first-half header on – and only just on (another inch or so and it would have been over) – the line? Ricky Sbragia kept his thoughts on the decision to himself after the game, because – as he said – we won. But we shouldn’t let the matter drop altogether. Salut! Sunderland could not trace the myopic linesman, but we did persuade our good friend Rob to set the record straight …

Some Sunderland fans seem to think us referees have it in for them. Let me say it once so you all understand: there is NO secret sub-committee that decides each Friday how to victimise SAFC that weekend. And even if there is one, it doesn’t meet as often as that.

Look lads. It’s all a mistake. We’re all human. Howard Webb didn’t deliberately set out to award Newcastle a fraudulent penalty last Sunday; he just thought it might be a good idea to give ’em something if they kept falling over like that in the box. It was the same at Villa Park last season. When Webby failed to stop the game and send the Villa goalkeeper off for handling way outside his box, it was not to be mean to Sunderland, but to show his appreciation of the keeper’s audacity.


* Martin Atkinson’s sensible, let-the-game-flow decision at Stamford Bridge to award two or three offside goals to Chelsea to get the game safely over by half time

* Mike Dean’s common sense approach to all those Villa hand balls, and giving them a penalty for a foul outside the box, at the SoL in January, which – you’ll all admit – handed Martin O’Neill a great chance to break the Big Four monopoly.

* Steve Bennett’s invention of a foul when Danny Collins “scored” a last-second winner at home to Villa last season

* the linesman at Reading (also last season) who saw the ball over your goal line when it was probably nearer the penalty spot

And from the past….

* Graham Poll at Wimbledon (Summerbee lying half-dead on the pitch after Ben Thatcher’s GBH assault as Wimbledon scored the winner); Poll again with Andy Cole’s helping hand in a Man United scoring move at the SoL when you might otherwise have won; Graham Barber’s penalty to McAllister for a foul committed almost in his own half….and a million more incidents.

And I know it’s true that we do not make vital decisions, completely against the laws of the game, in Sunderland’s favour. Well, we might award the odd dodgy throw-in, but you know what I mean.

It wouldn’t be right to compensate for one error that harms one side by giving them something of equal importance a bit later on (unless they’re playing Sunderland). We aren’t the ones who came up with the daft old cliche about things evening themselves out. So we shouldn’t be expected to put it into practice.

Look, the truth is we’re just incompetent sometimes. In fact, some of us are almost as incompetent as your players, like the defenders yesterday who kept passing to Stoke forwards, the striker who snarled a lot but otherwise did sod all, the other striker who kept messing up moves (until he scored), the ones who put all those useless crosses straight into Tommy’s arms and those who repeatedly sent long-range passes out of play or so far short of the target that they just gave Stoke a chance to attack.

And consider the positives: Danny Pugh got to finish the game! It forced you to score from open play. And Danny’s now best mates with me and the assistant.

Always look on the bright side of life……now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to fix a venue for the next sub-committee meeting a week on Friday before your game at Arsenal.


* Posting dedicated to “Neilh111”, a Villa fan who had managed to find a Stadium of Light steward who thought Mike Dean had favoured US (but then, aren’t our stewards known for their great sense of humour?). Our Neil then wrote this at the Vital Blackburn fan site:

“I did have a quick look at your site, and the report for nearly every game seems to say that you should have got more but where robbed. Your team needs to take more responsibility I think. If you show the same amount of fight against Rovers they will stuff you.
I was in the Villa end on Saturday and even your local paramedics who were near us (sunderland fans) were saying that the ref was on your side.
Can’t believe you are on about the Milner goal, If it was handball then he would have stopped the advantage and given us a penalty and also sent your defender off.
Anyway, nice ground, enjoyed the atmosphere up there.”

** Jeff Winter’s website – yes, that Jeff Winter – has a League of Injustice which puts Sunderland in seventh place (instead of 13th at the time it was compiled; 11th since the weekend results) if points unjustly lost through bad decisions are added to our tally.

3 thoughts on “Rob Styles exclusive: how I sleep at night”

  1. The really crap referees (Styles, Bennett, Mr. Burns lookalilke Mike Riley) probably tell their linesmen to do offsides and throw ins only. Their egos are so great that they can’t bear to have a social inferior like a linesman making more accurate decisions than they do – or don’t.
    More insights into the wacky world of the Waterlooville Whistler please!

  2. I didn’t expect that incompetant fool Styles to see as blatant hand ball as that however I can’t understand why the linesman din’t spot it. I was 30 yards further back than him and despite watching the game through red and white rose tinted specs it really was a very easy decision to make.
    Rumour has it that Styles had seen the replay at half time and apologised to some of the players for his glaring error.

  3. Tut tut Mr Styles. Is your memory failing you? How can you forget that little incident when Pascal Chimbonda, suffering from a momentary bout of scrotal itch, asked the kind Mr Bullard to help relieve his suffering and thus give your colleague, Keith Stroud, a wondeful opportunity to disallow a peach of a free kick. Obviously one of your sub-committes more inspired ways of denying SAFC two points.
    However, the most bizarre disallowed goal I have seen didn’t involve Sunderland, but happened in a Unibond South fixture, when a goalkeeper’s throw out was intercepted by an opposing forward (near the half way line) who took it forward a few steps and put the ball in the net, only to have it disallowed for offside. Maybe one for you to consider in the Premier League?

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