Socrates MacSporran

Socrates MacSporran
No I am not Chick Young, but I can remember when Scottish football was good

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Irresponsible Journalism Does Not Help In Controversial Refereeing Incidents

TODAY, I return to a subject which has greatly troubled me these past months and years – the continued downward trajectory of the circulation of Scottish newspapers; aided by the fact, there are guys writing about football these days, who would never have got through the doors even a decade ago.

I have in the past mentioned my two old friends, who managed to find the escape tunnel out of The Herald editorial floor before they morphed into Angus Lennie as Ives, “the mole” in The Great Escape. These pillars of the press are no longer allowed by their better halves, to read The Herald before lunch time, as their reaction to what is printed usually ruins the remainder of the day.

I fear, from looking at the paper's website this morning, similar travails may be overcoming their contemporaries, now retired from The Scotsman.

 Craig Thomson tells Cedric Kipre: "Ye cannae dae that Son"

There is a piece, written by Craig Anderson, which is boldly headlined: “Why the referee was wrong to send off Cedric Kipre against Celtic.” Well the spurious argument put forward by young Master Anderson is easily and quickly demolished.

Craig Thomson was correct to send-off Mr Kipre, because, as Law V (1) of the Laws of Association Football make clear: “The referee is the sole judge of fact.” If Craig Thomson decides Kipre was guilty of an offence worthy of a red card, that's it. It's Craig's call, Kipre is off.

Anderson then compounds his folly – to put it bluntly, he continues digging, with a ridiculous observation about an off-the-ball kick needing to show “excessive force and brutality.” There is no accurate measurement of “excessive force and brutality”, one man's “I barely touched him”, is another man's “he nearly broke my leg.”

Craig Thomson, the one man delegated with deciding whether or not Kipre's kick was a foul, and how much force was used, decided it was a red-card offence – end of.

Still wielding his spade with the enthusiasm of a Kerry man on piecework, Anderson toils on. Going-on about the view from the stand, although, to be fair, he does admit, Thomson didn't have the view from the stand, or access to a replay – he had one “real time” view of the incident, and one angle, from which to make his decision: “red card.”

Now Anderson's qualifications for his position as The Scotsman's judge and jury on the incident is apparently, that he is: “a fully-qualified former referee.” Bravo, I have never heard of him, and he certainly never reached the FIFA Elite Level ranking which Craig Thomson enjoyed, until he reached the upper age limit and had to step down to merely covering domestic Scottish games.

I certainly have no recollection of ever seeing his name against a high-profile game such as those Craig Thomson has been in-charge of – Old Firm games, internationals, cup finals, during his long career at the top level.

Anderson, apparently, runs the SPFL Stats website. Ah! A statistician; well, we all know what they say about statistics – coming some way after lies and damned lies.

I would describe Anderson's effort as: “Classic click-bait”, and it's a pity such an august newspaper as The Scotsman is reduced to such tactics.

A FOLLOW-UP to Anderson's crock of shite has seen another former whistler, Charlie Richmond, quoted in a critical Daily Record piece.

 An old picture of Charlie Richmond, when he was on the FIFA list

Charlie is a friend of mine, a guid Affleck man (he's from Auchinleck), who was, in my opinion, treated badly by the SFA when active. Charlie, therefore, has perhaps an axe to grind.

Those awfly-good at “spinning” Record Sport subs have done a good job at getting the maximum out of what Charlie said to Euan McLean – obviously leading on the controversial bit, where Charlie disagrees with some of the red cards Craig Thomson has dished-out to Motherwell this season.

However, to be fair to Charlie, he made some good points when speaking to McLean, maybe better if the good points had been highlighted and the controversial stuff down-played. But, hey, he was speaking to a Record hack so we should have expected the controversial stuff to be highlighted.

One particular point Charlie made, with which I am in full agreement; it seems to me, the SFA are too-keen on fast-tracking young officials today Charlie mentions the association's desire to see officials reaching Grade One by 24 and doing cup finals by 27. Look, not everyone is Willie Collum, who a lot of people thought was: “strange” because he wanted to be a referee when he was about 14.

Good referees need to gain experience, Charlie speaks of still doing junior games when he was 32. Of course, he never got the ultimate testing game in the juniors – it is common knowledge, an up-and-coming junior official being considered for promotion to the senior ranks, would, at some point be given an Auchinleck v Cumnock game. The thinking being: “If he can handle that, he's ready.”

Talbot v Cumnock - if a referee can handle that, he can handle any game

Charlie couldn't be given that test, but, he still got promoted. There is something to be said for bringing-on referees at a slower pace. There is also something to be said for taking players who are not going to make the grade, or who suffer injuries which curtail their ability to play football, but not their ability to run – and fast-tracking them into refereeing.

The great Jim McCluskey emerged from this route - turning to refereeing aged 25 after injury while playing with Airdrie, and didn't do too badly. So, while some of Charlie's comments were perhaps wrong, as I said above, he makes some good points, which perhaps the SFA Refereeing Department should look at.

FINALLY, apparently, we are to get a new Scotland away kit. Having looked at the advance pictures, my reaction is: “Haud me back.”

I liked the pink kit in any case.

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