Referee’s decision over Cameron Jerome’s ‘goal’ denied Norwich City fans value for money

Referee Simon Hooper had an afternoon to forget at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Image

Referee Simon Hooper had an afternoon to forget at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

There has been plenty of discussion over the summer regarding ticket prices, fans being ‘fleeced’ and debate over whether the current structure represents value for money.

There are all manner of views and standpoints, from effectively pricing to maximise revenue given demand, right the way through to trying to retain some sort of nod toward football being the ‘working man’s game’ and ensuring that the average working man can afford to go. I’m sure each has its merits and that it will be a debate that continues and that campaigns like “Twenty is Plenty” will continue to garner support.

What certainly won’t encourage the casual fan to pay – I think it was £45 on Saturday – through the nose is the feeling that a thoroughly entertaining game of football had been ruined by incompetence and an apparent desire to suppress the outlandish skill and audacity that might just tempt you to stump up your hard-earned for an afternoon at the footy.

I’m not going to lay the blame for ultimate defeat solely at the feet of Mr Hooper; we didn’t aid ourselves with some questionable defending, but the decision to disallow Cameron Jerome’s goal undoubtedly had an impact. Clearly on top at the time, had the game gone 2-2 there had to be a chance that we’d go on to complete the job, equally, Palace might still have done us on the counter-attack, but it would have been in our own hands.

The goal that was disallowed was the outstanding piece of play of the afternoon. The one thing that happened in the game that would have had kids streaming in to A&E as they tried to emulate it down the park. It was an outstanding finish, fantastic opportunism, athletic, audacious and brave. The kind of outlandish skill that makes us love the game; that entertains us, that makes us pay the money to turn up. It’s bad enough that some fans are feeling robbed by the club they love without the referee inflicting some form of entertainment tax onto them too.

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I’m not a great fan of referees at the best of times, but I appreciate that they are a vital component of the game. It’s just that they should also be incidental, nobody I know has ever paid to watch them, in fact, when I leave a game I’d rather not know the referee’s name. If I’ve had to ask or flip the programme over, it’s because he’s made me want to know it with his poxy decisions.

Probably the most galling thing is that these professionals are never held accountable for their shortcomings. Well, that’s not strictly true, I guess that as a result of his appalling display yesterday that Mr Hooper will be officiating at a lower league ground like Portman Road next week. However, that doesn’t help Norwich City, it doesn’t retrieve the situation from Saturday, it doesn’t restore any points that they may have cost you. In fact, his likely demotion only goes to further punish us in so much that he won’t be inflicting his warped whistle of justice on one of our direct competitors next week.

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I think he should come out and explain why Jerome’s equaliser was dangerous. I want a journalist to ask him if he’d have disallowed Rooney’s goal of the season. I want to know why even the bent ref in Escape to Victory didn’t see fit to disallow Pele’s goal but he saw fit to chalk off ours.

But no, he’ll be shuffled off to a far flung corner of the Football League, given a coating of RefWrap to protect him from the media and the 27,000 fans that saw how poor he was and carry on as if he’s done nothing wrong.

It’s a bit early for such outrageousness but these kind of decisions cost clubs their divisional status and millions of pounds. They can cost managers their jobs and livelihoods too. They also cost the fans a fortune to witness, there were over 27,000 people in Carrow Road yesterday and the only person that would have disallowed that goal was the one with the whistle. I’m sure he could direct me to a relevant subsection of a rule somewhere that to him justifies his decision; in return I could point to his head and just say “common sense”.

I’m not looking for favours, I’m not looking for referees to not apply the laws of the game, I just want them to be applied with some semblance of an understanding of the game. Referees are already highly trained yet the standards of officiating continually fail to keep pace with the rate that the game is progressing. The answers aren’t as easy to come by as the questions but I think that the referees need more input and guidance from either current or recently retired top professional players. They already know the rules (allegedly), there needs to be more focus on the how, when and why they are applied.

If I wanted my afternoon ruined by a man in black, I’d go and watch a Will Smith film, at least that wouldn’t cost £45. Unless I had pick’n’mix, but don’t get me started on the price of that.

• Blog post written by Duncan Edwards

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