Letters to the sports editor: ‘Play to the whistle’ leaves integrity as the loser
AMID the furore surrounding the failure by the referee and his assistant to spot that Hibernian’s Leigh Griffiths had scored a goal against Hearts in the recent Edinburgh derby, I feel the role of the players in this situation – in particular the Hearts captain Andy Webster – bear closer scrutiny.
It’s all very well for players to use the catch-all “play to the whistle” to absolve themselves of taking any responsibility for controversial decisions but, when mistakes as blatant as this one are made, shouldn’t sportsmanship come into play?
As a regular golfer and tennis player, I see it as part of the game to call a penalty shot on myself should, for example, my golf ball move at address, while I also fully trust my tennis opponents when they call a shot of mine out.
Such fundamental – and mutual – sportsmanship, without the requirement for an official, is at the very core of why we play these games. On this basis, it seems absurd for Webster to have happily admitted to Griffiths that the ball had clearly crossed the line yet, because the referee failed signal a goal, he continued to play on in the pretence that nothing untoward had occurred.
It was an absurd situation, and, while the more partisan Hearts supporters would disagree, the failure to acknowledge the goal denied a poor game a rare moment of high quality. Would it not be a step in the right direction for a game which has sorely lacked sportsmanship for far too long for Webster to have set an example by simply accepting a great goal had been scored, picking the ball up and returning it to the centre circle for kick-off?
The reputation of football players these days is not great and such a gesture would, in my opinion, help to set a better example to fans.
DR JM MELLOR
Idron, nr Pau
Mistake so bad ref’s excuses are irrelevant
ONCE again Glenn Gibbons (High time shoddy refs were held to account, The Scotsman, 16 March) gets to the core of a problem. All the waffle over bad decisions and platitudes about officials’ instructed positioning and good and bad decisions balancing out eventually does not deal with the essence of the disallowed Leigh Griffiths goal in the recent Edinburgh derby. This was not a millimetre over, was-it-wasn’t-it, decision. This was a ball fully two feet over the line and for two highly paid officials in the very near vicinity to miss it is simply mind boggling incompetence and nothing else.
New Cut Rigg
If this is Armaggedon, bring it on – and on
SO THE first Scottish football major domestic trophy final has passed. A rip-roaring edge-of-your-seat spectacle between Hearts and St Mirren from start to finish and more twists than a week’s worth of soaps right up to the final whistle, in a stadium where the old Hampden roar reverberated well beyond the final whistle, and a new name on the League Cup for the second successive year.
Elsewhere, two clubs that less than 20 years ago were playing in the Highland League could both find themselves in Europe.
If this is a taste of Neil Doncaster (SPL chief executive) and Stewart Regan (SFA chief executive)’s “footballing Armageddon” when Scottish football doesn’t revolve around the demands of Rangers, could they tell us what would be their definition of the end of the universe so it can be implemented in time for next season?
Linn Park Gardens
Scots’ Bale out plan may be Rovers and out
I SEE the Scottish management team has a plan to shackle Gareth Bale at Hampden this week. It reminds me of the season when Hibs were to play Peebles Rovers in the Scottish Cup. The day before the game the papers were full of the Rovers’ plan to “stop Baker”. As a result, Joe was a bit miffed and scored nine goals in Hibs’ 15-1 victory. Good luck Scotland.
Old Firm B team idea is a turn-off for this fan
THE latest news that space for two extra teams could be introduced in the new league construction to possibly accommodate Rangers or Celtic “B” teams, should the day ever come that they seek pastures new, must rank alongside something akin to a Grimm fairytale.
Should this happen I am fairly certain football fans of other clubs would desert the game in droves. If Rangers and Celtic wish to leave Scottish football so be it, but they cannot have a team playing in one country’s league set-up and another team playing in another country’s, or is the Atlantic League back on the agenda?
Once again, some in the hierarchy of Scottish football would appear to be falling over themselves to accommodate Rangers and Celtic. Enough is enough and I, having attended football matches for 65 years, would not grace a professional football ground in Scotland again should this come to pass. And I am positive that others would follow my example.
ROBERT T SMITH
Owen had pace and talent to top them all
WHEN I first saw Michael Owen as a small, blindingly fast Liverpool teenager, I thought nothing could stop him becoming the finest of England’s post-war strikers.
Yet, at the end of his injury-plagued career, he was a disappointing fourth in the list of leading goalscorers behind Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Jimmy Greaves.
He had a Wagnerian career with great moments amid some terrible half-hours, marred by the silly transfer in 2004 to Real Madrid – a team for which he was wholly unsuited.
The ultimate touch-and-shoot forward, he was Europe’s best in 2001 (Ballon d’Or) but he was not robust enough for the modern game and should never have left Liverpool.
DR JOHN CAMERON
At least get put-ins straight for a start
THE scrum! Having played hooker for some 23 years, I watched in utter horror, frustration and disbelief at the way scrums were contested during the Six Nations.
I offer some simple and basic solutions which are not rocket sicence:
1. The scrum-half has to put the ball in straight – why are referees not penalising the squint put-in? This would make the hooker hook the ball and therefore get the ball out of the scrum quicker. It would also make the props support the hooker and not merely concentrate on the “hit”. At present we have no hookers, just three people in the front row merely shoving and fighting with each other with disastrous results for all concerned.
2. I would also make the front rows wear loose jerseys as in the past and not the skin tight garments that have evolved. This would allow the opposing props to get a grip of each other and stop the front rows continually collapsing.
I hope the IRB will see this letter and take my views on board for their next round of law changes.
Rulemakers and ref combine to spoil game
I FIRST attended a Scotland international at Murrayfield in 1964, when Scotland managed to draw 0-0 with the All Blacks, and have attended most of thehome internationals since then. The recent Six Nations match against Wales, however, could well be the last.
The game was one big yawn from start to finish due in no small measure to just about one of the most abject and witless performances by a referee who, quite apart from his questionable and inconsistent decisions, appeared to be devoid of any kind of empathy for the finer traditions of the game, for the players trying to play the game and the supporters who are the lifeblood of the game.
Craig Joubert seemed to be getting more kicks out of blowing his whistle than the world record number of kicks he was intent on awarding to Leigh Halfpenny and Greig Laidlaw throughout the afternoon.
The game was blighted by refereeing interruptions and given no chance to flow. If you add the time taken for the 18 kicks at goal to the time required for all the other penalties and stoppages, including the numerous and at times pointless scrum resets, I would not be surprised if the time the ball was actually in play was less than ten minutes.
Of course it is not all down to the referees. The lawmakers must shoulder a heavy responsibility for strangling the game with a myriad of complex rules which generally favour physique, weight and power over skill, craft and creativity. Rules which seem to permit varying and often mystifying interpretations in the first place and make the game the often unedifying spectacle it is today.
ALAN W SHARP
Cardiff crescendo gave an undeserved gloss
THANKFULLY, the weekend’s Wales-England game managed to keep some credibility to this season’s Six Nations.
Wales’ championship win produced a grand finale but before then there was too much crunch, too many injuries; too many confusing and disrupting rules and laws; too much inconsistency of application of the rules by referees and assistants, and blind eyes turned to misdemeanours; and too many penalties and interruptions.
Lions tour? Maybe I’ll watch but the IRB need to do some radical rethinking – and quickly – for the safety of the guys, and for the sanctity of the game.
Michael McParland Drive
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