Tough decisions following the letter of the law

Premier League football referee Pete Walton
Premier League football referee Pete Walton

HAVE you ever had to do things that you really didn’t want to do?

I’m sure most of you love to visit the mother-in-law, or go to the pub with hubby just as your favourite programme starts on TV?

It’s good to compromise every now and then but it can also be very frustrating.

The laws of football are very specific and at times seem a little unfair.

Last weekend I refereed a terrific encounter between Everton and West Ham. Both sides went for the win which made for a very open and attacking game.

West Ham belied their lowly league position and scored what looked to be the winning goal with five minutes remaining on the clock. Cue controversy. The goal scorer, Frederic Piquionne, who had been cautioned four minutes earlier for a foul challenge, was elated.

He turned and ran towards the travelling Hammers’ fans to celebrate his strike. With emotions running high, he left the pitch and embraced his supporters. Unfortunately by doing this he put me, the match referee, in a bit of a dilemma.

You see, the law states quite emphatically that players have a responsibility for the safety of supporters and are told not to encourage a sudden ‘rush’ by supporters to the front of the terraces for safety reasons. Can you imagine if fans surged to the front to embrace players and small children or even older supporters were caught up in this?

I have seen videos of such actions and the resulting injuries caused to innocent bystanders, that’s why the law was introduced and administered rigorously with a caution for the guilty player.

So you can imagine what was going through my head the moment Frederic rushed towards his supporters. The last thing I wanted to do was to become the villain of the piece, but I knew I had no get out clause and duly issued a caution to Freddie on his return to the pitch.

Unfortunately, for him, it was his second yellow card which resulted in a red card being shown and the player being sent off.

I didn’t feel too good about it and hopefully my body language portrayed my disappointment, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do and in football it’s no different, even if you’re seen to be a killjoy.

Finally, I’d like to say well done to Long Buckby as they advanced into the latter stages of the FA Vase. It was touch and go whether or not the game last Saturday went ahead due to a frozen pitch, but the ground staff won the day and laid the foundations for Glenn and his boys to triumph.

I’ve been given a rest from refereeing this weekend, so no doubt a visit to the mother-in-law is on the cards, but as I’ve said, sometimes you have to do what you have to do!