Here’s an article from Nat, one of our posters on the forum, about the weekend’s goings on at Ashton Gate.
Saturday. Ashton Gate, Bristol. 3.30pm approx.
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
On-loan Palace striker Freddie Sears closes in on goal. He shoots from just inside the area, and the ball flies past the Bristol Goalkeeper and into the base of the inside side-netting before bouncing out. The Palace players celebrate Sears’ first goal for the club whilst the City players dejectedly prepare themselves for the match’s re-start.
Except the Referee doesn’t give the goal. Despite being in a good position to view the incident, he has presumably decided it has hit the inside of the post and bounced away from goal. The Palace players and officials understandably go ballistic. The Bristol City players don’t spurn this unexpected opportunity of clemency and go on to win ‘1-0’ in the last minute through Nicky Maynard.
The incident re-opens up a huge can of worms; the issue of technology in football, in this case the more prevalent issue of goal line technology. Now I’m not one who is in favour of overindulging every aspect of our game to be deciphered by technology. I am of the opinion that in football you should be generally willing to accept bad decisions and move on from there.
However, for me this is the exception to that train of thought. A goal being mistakenly given or not given has a direct implication on a team’s general performance in a season. As has been said by man a pundit already, it obviously could ultimately lead to a team being relegated or promoted. These decisions could give or lose a club a lot of money. In an era of such technological advancement, to not use such a simple method to ultimately settle what is becoming a regular and potentially important dispute is farcical.
There are two more side issues to this incident as well. The first one centering around the Referee, a Mr Shoebridge. From what I can see, he was in a good position to have a clear view of this incident, so full marks to him in that regard. For me there is nothing more infuriating than a Referee hindered by the fact he is out of position.
However, the upshot of my first comment is that, if the Referee is in such a good position to see the ‘goal’ then why couldn’t he give it. The basic replays I have seen suggest that it was a good foot over the line at least. Why could he not see this? Even if he wasn’t sure about the legitimacy of the goal, then surely the reactions of both set of players told him everything. The fact that he was so sure it wasn’t a goal surely calls his decision making and maybe even his eyesight into question.
I’m not one for haranguing Referees at every opportunity. I believe that it is easy for us to criticize them when we usually have many different views repeatedly available for any incident in a game, whereas they have to make a snap decision from one angle. However, the fact that this Referee clear botched an easy decision when he was in such a decent position surely undermines his future performances; if he cannot get that one right, what correct calls does he make?
The other issue raised by this is the issue of sportsmanship, or lack of perhaps on Saturday. Bristol City’s players evidently knew it was a goal if their reaction in the immediate aftermath was anything to go by. The officials affiliated with the club probably knew it was a goal because it was such an easy incident to see. Surely they could’ve let Palace score; it would’ve quelled a lot of understandable bitterness in the Palace camp and perhaps would diffused the situation totally. The fact that they didn’t looks very badly on them; they have for want of a better term, legitimately cheated their way to victory.