Wednesday, 24 November 2010

From Bird to Bowden

Without the laws there is no game.

As the countdown to the Ashes reaches single figures, Fantasy Bob thinks it appropriate to spare a thought for the men without whom it would not be possible. The umpires. 

As everyone who, like FB, has stood in any keenly contested club game knows, umpiring is a hard spot.  Hitting in line but too high?  Did I hear a snick?  Did the bat ground before the wicket was broken?  Was that the 5th or 6th ball of the over?  Is it tea time?  Tough calls. What can it be like in the intense competition of an Ashes Test?

But here in sunny Scotland match officials in another sport are in the news.  Referees in Scottish Football have had enough and intend to strike this weekend.  Good on them, says FB.  How anyone would willingly put themselves through what they encounter week in week out is beyond FBs conception of masochism.  FB cannot comprehend  why football tolerates institutionalised dissent as part of the game.  Players openly abuse the ref after every decision.  Managers are vitriolic in post match interviews.  Clubs smugly join in.  In Scotland there is the added excrescence of the Old Firm who think they are entitled to win everything and nurse historic grudges.  And it all percolates down to the junior and amateur game where players imitate these behaviours.  Tragic.
Without the laws there is no game. If refs just raised the yellow card every time dissent happened things would soon change.  Other games take a harder line.  Rugby for instance, where the slightest bit of backchat leads to an instant 10 yard penalty.  Cricket too at least at the top level where shows of dissent are heavily punished.   Although in club cricket things go off now and then as some dismissed batter thinks he is a footballer and reacts.  Cricket of course has other problems but generally dissent this is not one of them. 

Time was when there were no celebrity umpires. Two stern figures with white coats down to their ankles did the job.  No names no pack drill.  Now umpires are a special breed - tweeters in their own right. The first superstar was the great, the one and only Dickie Bird, heading a lineage that leads to Billy Bowden.  Forget Warney forget Flintoff the 2005 Ashes were Billys stage.  Do they attract too much attention to themselves?  Not in FB's view.

Without the laws there is no game.  FB wishes good luck to all the match officials during the series.  It could not happen without them.

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