The One With A Talking Point

Gedling Town 3 Gresley 1

East Midlands Counties Football League Cup Smi Final

My footballing memory is famously useless. In the days when I followed a team, I would often be amazed to hear friends effortlessly reel off scores and goalscorers from years past. And these days, I often catch wind of fellow hoppers mentioning seeing the number 4 at Winterton, and recalling the game the keeper played his socks off in a County Cup game.

One of the feets that amazes me most is the ability to recall match officials. "He's the ref who cost us the game at Stamford" or "wasn't he the lino who missed Freddy's offside?" I struggle to remember my name half the time, let alone those of the officials.

I have no idea who the guy in black was tonight. Nor do I rightly care. But I'll remember him. Much is made of refereeing standards at the top end of football, and I'm here to confirm that it's no better the lower you drop. Why should it? Just like the players, the refs are at this level for a reason. Occasionally it's because they are learning the trade and will go on to bigger and better things. But usually it's cos they're crap.

For 70 minutes of this game, the ref was no better, or worse, than any others I have seen. Indeed, he was fairly anonymous which wiser heads than mine often say is the sign of a good day's work for a ref. Much like an assassin really. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Gresley have been decimated by injuries and the like. Conservative estimates put the "off-duty" numbers in excess of 20. Gedling Town in contrast are on a roll, with gargoyle-faced Mick Galloway winning five from six since his appointment.

Gresley played like a team of strangers, with some players so painfully out of position they would have been better served to simply ignore the position all together. Gedling played with spirit, and, whilst it is still early doors, something about the team, and the dugout, says that they may have unearthed a little gem in Galloway. We shall see.

Gedling got their opener midway through the first half, and doubled their lead early in the second. Gresley were committing hari kari. Thankfully as the game progressed, they were giving more and more of the ball to Mickey Lyons, who avid fans of this blog may remember from an earlier entry. Such was his influence that Gedling opted to man mark him. And it was Lyons who got Gresley back into the game.

So there we were, delicately poised. Would Gresley's pressure pay off? Or would Gedling be able to hit them on the break? Neither, as it happens.

A brief period of Gedling pressure saw a bit of play on the edge of the area, before the ball was pumped somewhat hopelessly goal-ward. It's path was interupted by a Gresley defender's face. He wobbled briefly, and the continued apace.

Step forward Super Ref. Not for him the simplicity of the painful action unfolding before him. Not for him the glaringly obvious presence of a pair of grown up hands and arms hanging by the player's side. No, this was a man who was proud of his ability to see what NO OTHER FUCKER IN THE PLACE SAW. Not the fans, not the players, not the benches, not the impartial observers. No-one.

The ensuing penalty was duly dispatched, and unsuprisingly heads dropped. On the pitch, in the crowd, even in the dugout. The incredulous Gary Norton is to be applauded for the way he took the decision. Lesser individuals would, rightly or wrongly, imploded at such an injustice.

Gresley tried to get back in to the game, but their hearts weren't in it. The raucous reception the feisty Gresley support saved for the ref come the final whistle no doubt made some of them feel a little better. But on nights like this it takes a very strong character no to question what the point of it all is.

You know what's coming here don't you?
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