Respect has to be earned
Daphne Griffith, NCISA The young man who sits near me at home games turned to me at the end of our final game last season and said that by his calculation Norwich had "lost" at least 8 points over the season as a result of poor refereeing decisions.
Daphne Griffith, NCISA
The young man who sits near me at home games turned to me at the end of our final game last season and said that by his calculation Norwich had "lost" at least 8 points over the season as a result of poor refereeing decisions.
I've always tried to remain upbeat about referees and to take the view that over any season all teams get dubious decisions - and that on average we will gain as many points as we lose.
Last season we were relegated, and, to be honest, we most likely deserved it. What we did not deserve was to get a bucketful of poor refereeing decisions game after game, losing us 8 points if my friend is to be believed.
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Never mind, I told myself at the beginning of this season, let's put all that behind us, make the most of life in League 1 and try to get promoted.
The MK Dons game this last week has shown me that nothing has changed.
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It wasn't just the fact that a penalty wasn't awarded for an obvious foul on Grant Holt and was (by the assistant ref) for a dubious foul by Chris Martin.
That was bad enough, but then there were the numerous fouls that went unnoticed and/or unpunished by the referee - who "had a good game" according to the Sky commentary team.
Well, what do I know..........? Enough to know that we can't afford to lose another 8 points this season.
The Respect Campaign is great when it comes to highlighting the problems of retaining referees in a climate where Dads (and Mums) shriek abuse at the ref from touchlines up and down the country.
At the professional level the effect of the campaign is pretty peripheral - the only thing visible from where I sit is the teams shaking hands before each game.
Managers and players still challenge refs and their assistants, managers (including ours) are still fined and sent to the stands.
Being a referee is often a hiding to nothing, but that is no excuse for not doing it well - and for all the FA and Football League's pronouncements, the bottom line is where it has always been: respect has to be earned.
I hope many of you enjoyed David Maidstone's contribution last week reporting on the NCISA AGM and forum. This was the first time I have come away from a forum with club officials feeling energised and encouraged.
The professionalism of both David McNally and Paul Lambert was the outstanding feature.
Questions from fans were treated seriously and the answers were clear and seemed honest.
It was great to learn too that our new manager has a lively sense of humour!
This sense of humour was less apparent at MK Dons and the manager was not shy about publicly criticising the referee after the game. His passion, as he prowled the technical area and lived every kick of the ball and crunching challenge, was evident to all.
During the post-match interviews that passion was also present in his defence of his young players after 3 enforced substitutions destroyed his game plan.
OK, so we lost, but so far so much better as far as I am concerned. Lambert talks good sense and looks the part: it's great to see a track-suited manager on the touchline.
Realistically it is going to take him some time to get the team playing the way he wants and to regain the winning habit, lost for far too long. It would be good too if we could rely on a season of fair refereeing which we can all respect.