Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who'd be a referee at the best of times? Who'd be one in the Scottish Premier League this season, especially when it comes to officiating a Celtic game?

You can't really win when you're a ref. Even if you have a blinder, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't, with a multitude of studio and amrchair pundits just waiting to pick over the carcass of your decisions from every angle possible.

Of course, things aren't helped by the number of refs who have far from a blinder. In fact, them and their linesmen seem to be more blind than anything else.

Every team has had them. Every fan has been made irate by them. You just have to mention the name Don McVicar to an East Fife fan and the bloodvessels on the side of our head will look like they're about to explode and that was coming up to 20 years ago now.

Those infamous seven minutes of injury time that were played at Bayview by Second Division East Fife and Premier League Dundee United in the Scottish Cup in 1991 will never be forgotten by any Fife fan at the game. 1-0 up, ended up drawing 1-1 and then going on to lose the replay at Tannadice 2-1 in extra time. It was heartbreaking and to this day is probably the most heartbroken and depressed I've ever been leaving a football match. Forget the relegations, they were the results of poor seasons, losing a match like that because of the referee is just hard to take.

We abused McVicar to fuck of course in AFTN and how that cunt became the refs chief still baffles us. He can still shove his elastic watch up his arse as far as we're concerned, but we're not bitter!

No death threats were ever issued by East Fife fans to McVicar though. I mean, that would be ridiculous. Despite what happened, it's football and that shit happens. Try telling that to a Celtic fan though.

Willie Collum has been the referee in the news more than most this season. I'm sure he hasn't courted or enjoyed any of it. You think it might spur him on to be a better referee mind you!

Collum, the referee will possibly the most unfortunate name ever in Scottish football, first hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons back in October last year of course. His decision to award Rangers a penalty in the Old Firm game and his general handling of the game had outraged Celtic and led to him receiving death threats.

Mind you, what refereeing decisions haven't seemed to outrage Neil Lennon and Celtic this season, as linesman Steven Craven found out at the cost of his job the same month.

They've not always been wrong to be outraged though, although NOTHING ever merits issuing death threats to anyone over football.

The performance of Collum and his officiating crew in last night's 1-1 draw at New Douglas Park between the Bhoys and Hamilton Accies is likely to be the talking point for the next few days. I wonder how many column inches are going to be written about the situation this time. I know, I know, I'm adding to them with this piece myself.

When the refs went on strike in November it pissed many fans off, myself being one of them, whose trip home to see the Fife take on Ayr at Somerset Park was duly curtailed (although the weather may have got to it, if the strike hadn't).

Why should lower league clubs, who had nothing to do with the abuse and furore this season, be the ones to be punished for the action of some of the big boys?

Despite all this, most of us backed the refs. Yeah they were right to strike. No one should have to put up with some of the abuse they had but it seems to be a story that's never going to go away.

Some of Collum's decisions laat night were woeful. Controversial game and his linos didn't help him out at times.

Now every time Collum is in charge of a Celtic game questions will be asked. Every decision is now going to be scrutinised. Obviously you can't just stop him from taking the helm of these games or a very dangerous precedent will be set, but I just don't what the answer is.

He is human after all and such things are bound to be at the back of his mind somewhere.

It would be most helpful for all involved in Scottish football if all these useless bastards in the middle could just get better in the first place!


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