Spud Thornhill: VAR... a video nasty for Norwich City fans

PUBLISHED: 08:32 14 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:52 14 December 2019

Sign of the times as everyone waits for yet another VAR decision 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Sign of the times as everyone waits for yet another VAR decision Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Back in 1992, Arsenal fan Nick Hornby produced a book called Fever Pitch – later made into a film and play. It was a book that I could relate to.

On or off? Chris Basham is sent off ... only to have the decision reversed by VAR and reduced to a yellow card Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesOn or off? Chris Basham is sent off ... only to have the decision reversed by VAR and reduced to a yellow card Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

It chronicled his the days when he first started going to football to the lengths and depths he would go to follow his team, expressing the emotions and feelings that every football fan goes through during each game.

One of the chapters is about refereeing decisions, when he describes the emotions a fan endures. Right or wrong? For your team or against? Ironically, the game he chooses is the infamous 4-3 game between Arsenal and Norwich in November 1989, where Arsenal were awarded two controversial penalties, which was followed by a brawl.

I was at the game and remember my feelings.

Maybe if VAR had been about back then, the two penalty decisions would have been different - something we'll never know. But one thing I know is the emotions over the injustice from decisions this season from the many VAR decisions have been completely different to the injustices felt 30 years ago.

I have been following the beautiful game for 37 years and I have not been as angry nor as wound up over decisions as I have this season. Not because they are right or wrong - it's the way it's happening.

It's truly killing the game. As the song echoed around Carrow Road last week, "It's not football any more".

As someone who used to referee the beautiful game, I understand how difficult it can be and you only get that once chance to make that decision, from one position on the pitch. So I've always been understanding and respectful towards the referee, who has such an important role to play.

Sadly, this season I feel this is being taken away. I totally understand goal-line technology. That's based upon fact. Having VAR for decisions like we have witnessed recently against Manchester United and, last Sunday, against Sheffield United, overturning a referee's original decision, undermines the match official.

In both of those games the match referee made decisions based on his opinion, but his opinion is being overruled by someone at Stockley Park, west London.

This is not me being bitter. If those original decisions had stood, it wouldn't have affected the result. We would have still lost to Manchester United and Sheffield United.

People said before the ball being kicked this season, VAR should benefit us over these so-called bigger teams. Well, we are approaching the halfway mark and we are yet to see any benefits.

The whole procedure is just ruining the game that many fans have enjoyed for many years. Fans have had enough. When the red card to Sheffield United's Chris Basham was rescinded, my brother - who I sit next to and who has been going since the late 70s - became so upset he was about to leave, saying he'd had enough of this. I persuaded him to stay.

I thought maybe he was over-reacting, but I was wrong. Many fans, who are highly respected, stated on social media that if we are to stay up and VAR is used next season, they won't be renewing their season tickets.

I was also told by someone of a fan who walked out after the penalty incident at the recent Arsenal game - he had had enough of VAR. And he was not at Carrow Road on Sunday.

So obviously my brother is not alone.

I just hope not only Norwich's results improve on the pitch, but VAR does as well. Because if our results don't improve, even the most optimistic Canary like me is getting more pessimistic about our chances of staying up as every game goes by.

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