Monday, September 08, 2014

It's tricky to tell how bad a foul is - an early season lesson

First match of the season went well on a stunning, sunny afternoon on the banks of the River Medway just a couple of miles from home (unlike this coming Saturday when I'll be reffing within sight of the Channel Tunnel entrance). The match was a cracker between two new teams to the league who slugged it out goal for goal until it ended 3-2 to the home team: and I didn't get my cards out once.

I didn't think I needed to show a card but, interestingly, that view wasn't shared by a senior league official who was at the match to welcome the two new teams. This official has been a senior referee at Football League level and has reffed hundreds of difficult professional games, so it was a pleasure to get his comments after the game.
The worst tackle of the game happened midway through the second half when two players flew in for a full-blooded challenge, but one flew in with his studs raised and caught his opponent nastily on the ankle.
"That should have been a yellow," the league official said, kindly indicating that perhaps he'd had a better view of the incident than me. But No, I think we saw the same incident. I just think it happened too quickly for me to grasp the severity of the challenge.
I was actually quite pleased to have caught the foul. These challenges take place damn quickly and this was one was just five yards away from me. (too close if anything to get a good view). I saw the coming together and I saw one boot raised, but to be frank that's about all I saw. I couldn't see who got the ball first, I just felt there had been a foul and penalised it accordingly.
I was defeated by the speed. Now why was this? I can come up with a number of excuses. First game of the season? No excuse, I should be up to speed. Concentration? It's quite possible that I wasn't giving it 100 percent. I do find that I sometimes drift during a game for a few moments. I think it happens to all refs.
But really, there's no excuse. That player should have been booked.
The main reason I didn't caution the player was that - wrongly - I didn't think the game needed it. It was fast and lively, with no venom.
So I settled for telling him off, showing all the players I was aware of what he's done by holding my hand upright in a "studs-up" gesture.
It's always good to get some good lessons under your belt early in the season.

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