Winter of discontent

So amid all the baiting of Rob Styles, I came across Jeff Winter’s website, The Ref Fights Back, by accident and then remembered that his book – Who’s The B*****d In The Black?: Confessions of a Premiership Referee – has been sitting on my desk at work for months.

As a lad, Jeff was – let’s not mince words – a Lad. In the book, he attempts to draw a neat distinction between being a hooligan and just standing up for yourself. But when he talks of trying to “take the Fulwell End” before eventually coming to the conclusion that he should distance himself from such antics, the distinction seems to blur a little.

But unlike lots of Sunderland fans, I liked him as a ref. He may be a Smoggie, and may have reffed with chest puffed put quite a long way, but I thought he was a good, strong official and they are the ones I tend to admire.

At his site, Jeff deals with all sorts of banter from fans whingeing – as we do from time to time – about refereeeing howlers real or imagined. So I wrote to him about our Rob:

Very much enjoyed your book, and pleased to have come across your site. I support Sunderland (from a long way away, the UAE, at present) and do believe we have suffered disproportionately from rank bad decisions. I also believe things do NOT even themselves out, at any rate not as a matter of course. They certainly didn’t for us last season, and I don’t expect them to do so this season.
I had a spot of fun at poor Rob Styles’s expense at my own site
But I stress this point: referees make mistakes because to err is human. In Sunderland’s case, as with many if not most teams, they do not make anything like as many bad, result-affecting mistakes as our players. And until the laws of the game are changed, I oppose on principle any notion that referees who realise they’ve committed a terrible blunder should try to make it up to the aggrieved team later in the game. Though come to think of it: maybe that’s a rule change we should consider!

Jeff has had time so far only for a partial reply, but I quote it because it is interesting enough as far as it goes:

I am away on holiday at present so as yet I have not seen the incidents in the Stoke game, although I have received many emails from angry mackems. The theory that Refs make compensating decisions is rubbish. That is a commentators and “experts” theory!!! The other thing is the Ref is not aware that he has made a blunder, player and crowd reaction is not always a guarantee. I will look at the game highlights and cover it on the site when I get home.

Needless to say, we will update this posting once Jeff returns from Seaton Carew or Filey, puts away the bucket and spade and offers his assessment.

In the meantime, we can all have a laugh at Glenn Whelan, who followed up Tony Pulis’s ludicrous “it hit Danny’s chest” claim by reporting Danny Pugh’s own unconvincing protestations of innocence:

“Danny says it him him square on the chest so if that’s the case Sunderland have nothing to complain about. Danny is not one for lying, so I believe him.”

Which prompted two excellent responses at the Blackcats forum:

You may well be right dear Glenn. The problem is that your pal Danny was “economical with the truth”. It may well have hit him square on the chest but what he didn’t go on to say was that he then swiped the ball away with his arm!

— Ian Todd

There’s little point in denying something that has been witness by millions
of people courtesy of TV cameras. Loyalty and faith are one (well two
things). This is just good old fashioned stupidity.

As my Dad used to say: “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth
and confirm it.”

– Jeremy Robson

1 thought on “Winter of discontent”

  1. I’ve since watched the incident replayed several times (in the company no doubt of many others), and it’s since struck me (with the same clarity as Pugh blocked the ball with his arm) to ponder whether in fact the referee or his assistant should have stopped the game and simply awarded us the goal as there appears some evidence albeit controversial, that the ball had actually crossed the line by the time he handled it (or didn’t according to Glenn Whelan’s hearsay). Two mistakes at the same time. Above average, even for the consistently errant Mr Styles!

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