Referees clamp down to rid dissent
NORTH Coast footballers be warned: the referees are not taking a backward step in their bid to stamp dissent from the game.
In statistics obtained by the Examiner, a shoulder-tiring 150 yellow cards – including 17 in two games by the same referee last weekend – have been hoisted to players in the first six rounds of North Coast Football’s senior competitions.
A further 18 red cards have been issued.
The grades in focus are the youth, division 1, 2 and 3 and the three women’s leagues.
In the entire 2009 campaign, a frugal 90 warnings were handed down by whistle-blowers.
But in a move to silence the growing chorus of on-field dissent, referees have clamped down in the current season.
North Coast Football’s operations manager Bob Harris confirmed the overflowing paper work being handed in after matches.
“It’s a concern we have raised with the clubs,” Harris said.
“It comes down to two factors: the behaviour of the players is degenerating or the refs have taken a firmer stance.
“When a player makes a mistake the ref doesn’t go over to them and call them a dill.”
North Coast Referees’ secretary David Anderson says the yearly loss and gain of referees – and not a hard-line stance by officials – is behind the crackdown.
North Coast has about a 25 per cent turnover of referees each season and currently has 184 on its books, ranging from Macksville to Iluka.
“There’s always a few (referees) who say they can’t take the abuse any more,” Anderson said.
“At the end of the game 11 players like him, 11 players hate him.
“The players are more focused on blaming referees (than looking at their own mistakes).”
Anderson is hoping the increase of yellow cards – enforced or not – will eventually filter through and stamp out abuse from players.
“I think it’s a part of society,” he said.
“This dissent is driving young referees away from the area.
“Some referees see it as dissent and some see it as part of the game – that’s very hard to manage.
“But once this change (in attitude) starts taking place maybe statistics will tell us.”
Currently, four yellow cards handed to a single player throughout the campaign will result in a one-match ban.
Anderson hopes this will force players to respect officials and stop treating them as “lepers”.
“We are trying to get players to understand where we are coming from as referees,” Anderson said.
“Most of the time they don’t want to hear about it.
“The referees are human too and make mistakes but they don’t deserve to cop anything for it.”