Gambles’ Rambles: they don’t know what they’re doing

M Salut’a brother is a rugby ref, having previously played at a decent club level. You may think he therefore knows all about the selective indignation of supporters. It didn’t stop him joining in the “don’t know what you’re doing” chant at one grim London game when Sudnerland were on the receiving end of diabolical refereeing calls. Without the least mention of Steve Tanner (Gordon saves, goal given at Reading); Graham Barber (the McAllister dive) or Paul Danson (sending off Paul Stewart for being fouled at Arsenal), Ken Gambles works himself into a rage over past injustices …

Another Saturday another set of controversial decisions. Let me make clear at the outset that to be a referee is a highly demanding task and being a human one will obviously be prone to error.

During my 40-odd years of watching Sunderland I dread to think how many times I’ve come home moaning about a poor ref and wondering how he could have made such a bad decision.

Thankfully most of these occasions have been forgotten in the mists of time otherwise I’d probably be undergoing treatment.

I realise too that there must have been a fair number of games where Sunderland have benefited from poor decisions, although genuinely I can recall very few, perhaps a measure of the selectiveness of football fans.

Recently we’ve had the Cattermole handball against Stoke and the beachball incident against Liverpool, although I remain convinced it was Glenn Johnson’s boot which deflected the ball not the beachball. Anyway I don’t want to start that argument again.

All this being said however,there remain for me bad refereeing decisions printed indelibly on my mind that still have the power to get me annoyed, in some cases decades after the event.It didn’t take too long for me to call the major ones to mind and so I give you in chronological order my choices (I’m beginning to seethe already )

*1967 How referee Ken Stokes could give a last-minute penalty for an innocuous Cec Irwin challenge on Leeds’s Jimmy Greenhough I’ll never know.Yet after three of the most exciting games you could wish to see, we were finally dumped out of the FA Cup 5 Round Second replay at Hull by ‘dirty’ Leeds.In the aftermath of our players rightly contesting the appalling decision George Herd and George Mulhall were sent off.This was one more reason to delight in our 1973 success.

*1987 Not exactly a refereeing blunder this one, but the powers that be deciding away goals would decide the play-off semi-finals clearly thought one side having an extra half-hour more than the other to score away goals was all fine and dandy.Of course Gillingham took advantage and Division 3 here we come.Ludicrous.

* 2000 Ben Thatcher’s violent assault on Nicky Summerbee was absolutely despicable and could have done him serious injury yet amazingly the referee, Graham Poll, and his asssistants missed it completely (and it led to Wimbledon’s winner – ed).

* 2000 Tranmere have a man sent off but finish the game with 11 men on the pitch Everything suggested there should be a replay (we lost 1-0 ). However we are very decent about it and don’t make a fuss. I can’t believe Man Utd would have accepted it so calmly.

* 2009 Referee Andre Marriner (we’ll hear of him again). Sends off Kenwyne Jones for the most vicious prod in the chest you are ever likely to see. West Ham’s Ilunga though goes down like he’s been smashed in the face with a baseball bat. and we’re down to 10 men.

* 2009 My friend Mr Marriner again, a month or so later at Man City awards a penalty to the home side after Craig Bellamy is hacked down by a blade of grass. Later in the game Michael Turner is dismissed for a “violent challenge” when you see far worse unpunished in most games. We rightly appeal but fail and the suspension is increased by one game to four. By the way this is one of those rare occasions where the referee blows for time just as someone is shaping to shoot from 20 yards. Yes you’ve guessed it was us and we lose 4-3.

* 2010 Michael Turner plays his part again as Torres “pretends” the free kick has been taken when it was clearly being left for the goalkeeper to take .A clueless Stuart Atwell allows the goal to stand and imbecilic Alan Green on 5Live says it’s only fair to make up for the beachball goal!

I’d better stop there as I can feel the anger rising. I know I should have “moved on, but I haven’t, so there.

6 thoughts on “Gambles’ Rambles: they don’t know what they’re doing”

  1. Thanks very much for that link John and some belated confirmation that there were some odd events at Hull that night.Living in Barnsley at the time I had to travel back on the train with Leeds supporters and slept on Leeds station,which only added insult to injury.Nonetheless these epic games remain some of the most exciting I’ve seen Sunderland play.

  2. Malcolm – it was a sprinkler that did for the Utd player, and as it was a Sunderland sprinkler, it had to be a Man Utd free-kick.


  3. We were near the top of the Premiership in 99 playing Man Ure at home. I think a win could have sent us top when Ole Gunner Solksjar trips over his own feet. The free kick leads to a goal and we end up drawing 2-2 when we should have won. Happened about ten feet away from me.

  4. Remember it well Michael,a clear foul by Neil Shipperley on Mart Poom.Extra time ensued and of course we lost on penalties.Another one to add to my list.

  5. Weren’t we robbed in the play offs against Palace when a last minute equaliser was allowed to stand despite Poom being mugged by a couple of thier players?

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