MIKE ADAMS: A Word of support for the Man in Black…
As a Welshman he was fanatical about the other game that’s played by men with an odd shape balls growing up. Here he reflects here on the very different ethos and attitude by players towards referees in rugby and the nonsense officials encounter in football, that he sees creeping into our game with increasing frequency…
When I first came into this game I was attracted by the friendly and welcoming nature of the participants and the genuine spirit of fun and support with which the game was played.
Since those early days however it is with an increasing sense of unease I find this initial warmth cooling down; as I hear, on the odd occasion, whispers of dissension with some of the refereeing decisions and on more than one occasion outright challenges of disagreement. Can the referee be that wrong or that blind or biased? I think not, and it is time to put the matter right and dispel this pervasive cancer in the game.
It may well be that my concern stems from a background where the game that I was bound to in a previous existence, held the referee’s word as final and beyond argument. Any challenge to a decision was met with immediate retribution and the offence moved a further ten metres towards the dissenters’ goal line. The referee was (and I believe still is) always referred to as “Sir” irrespective of age, gender, colour, creed or sexual orientation, and no referee is permitted to pay for his or her own beer in the bar after the game, whatever the result.
The referee having the ability to both run backwards and blow a whistle at the same time was universally treated with awe and respect! They deserved it.
As sportsmen and sportswomen I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to support our referees. Without them there is no game, only uninformed, opinionated argument and increased chance of foul play and injury. They give up their spare time to allow us the opportunity to play and enjoy the game and ask for little or nothing in return!
I believe that they are unpaid: and even if they are paid, given the age and condition of the cars that they arrive in, surely it cannot be that much!
They are only human, with human frailties, emotions and feelings. We owe it to them, to ourselves and to the game to gracefully accept that they can make mistakes and allow them the occasional questionable decision, and lapse of reason.
I speak on this from personal experience and example since one memorable day the referee called me up for running. I accepted his decision without question or argument but did manage to retain the presence of mind to ask him to put it in writing. This he subsequently did, and it now stands in a wooden frame on my mantelpiece.
…my unconditional support will always go to the Man in Black, and I would urge you to take the same approach
Without exception, referees are unbiased and, for most of the time, consistent in their decision making. They favour neither one side or the other and use their best endeavours to encourage, promote and allow play which permits players across the spectrum of ability and fitness to enjoy and take an active part in.
In the event of conflict or argument on the field, instances of raised voices, manufactured outrage, clenched fists, the swinging of expensive handbags and hair pulling, my unconditional support will always go to the Man in Black, and I would urge you to take the same approach. He or she deserves it, for all that they have done and continue to do for us. After all who in their right mind can argue with someone who can run backwards and blow a whistle at the same time, and get a free beer in the bar after the game?
If I am allowed one bit of advice to offer to our referees it is simply this. Ignore any unwarranted or unasked for comment on your decision, consider the option of moving the offence ten meters further up field, get a louder whistle and do remember to keep up with play!