Referees back in spotlight

REFEREES are back in the spotlight when we'd all rather they fade into the background on game day.

The problem was highlighted two weeks ago when David Dunn raised the blood pressure of the Macksville crowd as Orara paid their visit.

Many, including Dunny have asked what I thought of his performance.

I believe him a victim of circumstance and hard done by (no pun intended) to find himself in reserve grade.

Dunny's drama came from the ongoing lack of communication between the blokes who blow the whistle and those who carry the flags.

There's a gap of three to five seconds from when an incident is observed and action or inaction takes place.

A lot can happen in that time including a great deal of howling from the gallery.

The three match officials invariably look at each other with blank looks, exchange their secret signals and then the ref adjudicates.

Sometimes they communicate by radio if wired for sound.

Once the ref blows that whistle he's accused unfairly by both sides of responding to the crowd rather than the actual incident.

He can never win but most accept it as part of a referee's job description.

The officials at Macksville were not wired up.

Had they been, that communication gap may have been lessened and Dunny's interpretations may have looked firmer rather than giving the impression of indecision.

Somebody has to make the tough choices.

Either the three blokes in stripey jumpers wear radios at all times in every game or we scrap the policy completely.

We can't continue having them worn haphazardly, depending on who likes them and who doesn't.

And somebody has to take the touchies in hand and guide them towards consistency.

John Cullen turned the caper into an art form but persistant calls to have him coach the boundary riders have been ignored, perhaps due to his current job with the Axemen.

And it's also disturbing the bloke recognised as our best touchie is young Mr. Williams who's streets ahead of men with much more experience.

The referees and touch judges are as keen as everyone to improve the situation but somebody has to identify the problems and enforce compliance.

Kerry Hales has made a good start as chairman of the Appointments Board but he can't do it all on his own.

Drama surrounding Kurt Taylor's handling of the game at Coronation Park last Sunday continues with an official complaint handed to Group 2 management.

Kurt may have been stunned by my opinion of his performance in the match report in Monday's Coffs Coast Advocate but I can assure him it will be nothing like the shock he receives the day I praise him.

It will happen.

Maybe, trying too hard to apply an advantage got him into trouble by making him appear inconsistent.

That word also appeared in the judiciary finding on Drew Vines when the Woolgoolga captain was suspended until June 5.

"Inconsistency in evidence given by the referee" is stated as one reason for the downgrading of the charge.

Some thought Drew got off light considering it was his second sendoff this year.

Ironically, referee Taylor also dismissed him at Shark Park.

I thought the incident deserved no more than a slap on the wrist as Drew had already copped plenty of 'slaps' for his brain explosion.

A penalty for the infringement would have been sufficient or at worst, a sinbinning.

But who would go to the bin?

The bloke who roughed Drew up, or Vines for retaliating?

As far as the punch up goes Drew came off second best and under a more experienced ref that's where it would have ended.

After the game an official told me a discussion had taken place three minutes from the end as to whether the players should have been called from the field for safety's sake.

Yet several players from both clubs said there was no chance the game would have ended in a brawl.

Very early on an unspoken gentlemans agreement was reached they were not each others enemy.

"One minute he (referee Taylor) was my best mate," one vastly experienced player told me.

"The next he was my worst nightmare.

"Everybody was confused so we all sort of decided to suffer it together."

Interesting comments indeed if they were not so alarming.

n June 26 is the likely date for a meeting aimed at reviving the Magpies under their own identity (yahooo!!) rather than a merger with another club.

Betcha I have plenty to say as that date draws closer.

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