There’s an old Billy Connolly quote where he states.
“The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one,” and you know exactly what he means.
It’s kind of how I feel about referees. When you see how difficult a job it has become, it makes you question the motives and the sanity of those who willingly put themselves in the firing line.
Sunday’s game was a perfect illustration how different interpretations of an incident means a referee will rarely call a decision right in the eyes of everyone.
Decisions in derby games are more difficult to call than most, as one set of fans will call it white, with the other calling black. Literally, in this case.
Perhaps in the case of the Fabricio Coloccini incident it’s easier for us to be philosophical about this, but I’ve started to grow increasingly tired of post match interviews with managers just becoming a three minute whine about the performance of the officials.
The pantomime of blame that ensues after almost every defeat isn’t just boring, it has got to a point where it’s embarrassing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there should be no interaction between players and managers and the referee and his officials.
Let them get on with their jobs and I guarantee their decisions will be more consistent, and more often than not, the right ones.
We need to accept the fact they will make mistakes, and if they do, it’s genuine, without any accusation of bias.
At this point, I have a confession to make. Until lately, as a player and a coach, I have been the biggest moaner you could ever imagine.
Like a child who doesn’t get their own way, I’d spit my dummy out, stamp my feet and behave abhorrently at times, all the while convincing myself it was acceptable because I wanted to win more than anyone else did.
I’d lost count of the yellow cards I’ve ever received, or the amount of times a referee has come over to the bench because of the abuse I was giving him or the fourth official.
In the aftermath of it all, I’d regret my actions and almost always ended up apologising to someone for my behaviour.
You’d think I’d mellow with age, but towards the end of my playing career I actually got worse.
I spent a few months playing 10 games in Iceland in 2013 as a favour to a friend and after the first four games of the season, I found myself one caution away from a suspension after picking up four others for dissent. I’d watch the highlights back on TV later that night and would hardly recognise myself as the same person.
I behaved much in the same vein on my return home coaching at Lincoln right until the beginning of this season when I decided to conduct a small experiment.
Our disciplinary record over the past couple of season hadn’t been great and we seemed to be on the wrong end of our fair share of debatable decisions and I began to wonder if we wonder the creators of our own downfall so to speak.
So with that, I decided to keep my mouth shut and if I had anything to say to the officials, I made a conscious effort to do it in a quiet and more respectful manner.
Hardly a revolutionary idea, I know, but it’s been revelatory, nonetheless.
I’m enjoying the games more, whether we’re winning the game or not.
Instead of besmirching the referee after the event with accusations of his inability to control the game, I, myself, can make clearer judgements during the game rather than emotionally charged overreactions to perceived injustices.
I’m not a particularly religious person, but in conversation with someone much wiser than myself, I began complaining about my frustrations with something that was clearly outwith my control and he turned to me and simply said “Let go. Let God”.
I wasn’t sure what he meant at first, but he explained I should concentrate on what I can control and leave what I can’t control for the rest of the world, be it God or anything else, to take care of.
The revelation part of this new approach came as I sat across from the opposition dugouts a few weeks back and it made me think back to when I was a kid, and I’d scream and moan because my mother wouldn’t buy me any sweets and remembered it never made her change her mind to give me some. If anything it made her more more determined not to.
I looked over again at them, ranting and raving at the officials, whining and whinging that the referee isn’t giving any decisions their way.
I started laughing to myself, imagining the referee was like my mother and thought, “If you act like that all the time, no wonder you don’t get any decisions, mate”.
Maybe that’s the answer to all the indiscipline in the game today.
Whilst the refereeing authorities have been looking at recruiting young players, who have fallen out of the game at an early age, what they actually need to do is introduce more female officials through their ranks.