Monsieur Salut writes: ‘you’re not fit to referee’, ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’, ‘the referee’s a w*****’. How often have we heard and/or joined in such chants? I even recall my brother piping up once in the Sunderland away end and he’s a qualified ref (albeit in rugby). It hardly seems to matter that even the most incompetent match officials tend to make fewer mistakes than players; a blatantly wrong penalty, sending-off or offside decision can feel a lot more cruel than a missed sitter or goalkeeping howler.
Yet Ken Gambles, in common with many SAFC supporters coming to terms with life in the third tier, has been appalled at the low standards and rank inconsistency of match officials. He suggests a regular Salut! Sunderland vote to rate each of the refs we encounter as the season continues. While we work out how and whether such an exercise could work, let Ken set the scene with some highly positive comments about the man in charge of our games, Andy Madley …
First of all, just to be clear, I am not a ref, never have been one and never wanted to be. I fully appreciate what a difficult job they have in making instant decisions without the benefit of endless replays.
However, it is obvious that some refereeing performances are so much better than others, of which I was acutely aware in my playing days (long ago sadly).
And it’s fair to say that the quality of refereeing in the third tier has so far been pretty poor, abysmal in some cases. So it was refreshing to watch Andy Madley in action during Tuesday night’s game against Barnsley. He controlled the match excellently.
It’s possibly a “chicken and egg” situation in that both sets of players showed more honesty and
integrity than is always the case at the SoL thus far (Peterborough or Oxford anyone?) which made life easier for him. But his reluctance to blow for any old tackle allowed the game to become a great contest, never spoilt by over-fussiness.
He played advantages well, spoke individually to players, used his assistants
effectively and at all times was in complete control. He didn’t brandish cards as if there was no tomorrow and he treated both teams as men playing a man’s contact sport. As a result the game profited hugely.
I’ve watched a gif of the penalty and I would say he even got that right, but if not it’s ridiculous to expect perfection, it doesn’t exist,especially in sport.
I wondered therefore whether after each game visitors to Salut! Sunderland might give the ref a mark out of 10 which could then be averaged out and subsequently become a mini-table with a prize for the best (or worst perhaps) performance. It shouldn’t be unduly serious; perhaps the criteria could be set something like this.
10 Absolute perfection. Class throughout
9 Not perfect, but difficult to expect more of an official
8 Generally very good. In control, let the game flow
7 Good. Would be satisfied with this standard for every game.
6 Decent. Nothing hugely wrong though guilty of some dubious decision-making
5 Barely adequate. Obvious weaknesses
4 Disappointing. Got more wrong than right
3 Poor decisions at important moments that affected the game’s outcome
2 Incompetent, lost control, ruined game
1 Coote-like (the ref for the Peterborough game). Enough said. Abysmal
* Salut! Sunderland welcomes suggestions on how such a running series might work and an idea of how many readers would wish, or feel qualified, to take part. You can even have a bit of fun in the Comments, applying Ken’s criteria to individual refs we’ve had so far this season