Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Case Of The Cullomptons

I make no excuses about my post this evening; a bit of 'lazy journalism' on my part.

But first, just to let you know, if you didn't already, that the draw for the FA Vase Second Round Proper took place at the beginning of this week:

[45] 15 Nov 2008 15:00 Banstead Athletic v Arundel

I now know where I'm off to in just under six week's time. Banstead Athletic is over near Epsom, Surrey and are in the same Combined Counties League Premier Division as Chertsey Town. Another new venue for yours truly and only a short hop around the beloved M25. More on Banstead Athletic in a future post.

This is the lazy bit. The following article has been written by Caroline Barker who hosts the BBC London Radio 'Non League Show' and is reproduced here with her kind permission. It is relevant because it concerns an FA Vase game from this season's First Round Proper and it is also pertinent to the current debate surrounding poor refereeing decisions. Please read on:

"Hang on a minute, so let me get this right, a “goal that never was” in the Championship and there’s no replay, whereas a wrong decision in the FA Vase and a game is declared null and void?

The story in case you haven’t heard involves Willand Rovers and Cullompton Rangers. According to the local press the referee on the night is human and makes a mistake (awarding a goal kick when a spot-kick should have been retaken) and the Devon FA decide rather than go with the decision made during the game they’ll overrule it, scrub out 120 minutes of football and order a replay of the first round tie.

Now, either I take your two fingers and raise them to the so called pro game, and cite this as another example of 'we’re better than you', or I take the cynics view that the FA would ONLY do this in Non League as they’re hoping it would go unnoticed.

Apparently no one complained to the powers that be about the incident and quite the opposite, some in these parts are now worried that the games’ governing body have opened themselves up to all sorts of shenanigans.

The fact is the tie ended in a draw and would have been replayed anyway, but now given the local FA’s decision there’s a whole can of the stuff ready to explode. “Whatever happened to the referee’s word is final?” was the view of one of those involved in the Vase game and I agree.

What happens on the pitch should stay on the pitch. We all see decisions, especially at non league level, that we doubt the validity of. I too have sat in the stands and offered the referee my imaginary glasses, but I too accept he (or she, and lord knows how non league fans love to berate a certain female official) will never be right all of the time.

The great Danny Kelly and Danny Baker (once together of the Five Live parish) always used to back up an argument with we’re “sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but always certain” and that’s how it should be. The final word does have to be with the man in the middle at the time and that will only happen if the whole might of the FA are behind him. Go against him after the event and be prepared for every decision to be challenged.

Now, if this story is true, it may be the case that the referee admitted he was wrong after the event, but by the FA acting, they now have the “case of the Cullomptons” forever etched on their rule books and only time will tell if it slips unnoticed into the footballing annals. My view is that a gentle tickle will turn into somewhat more of a rumble undermining everything football is based on; the fairness of a game".

Listen out for the rumble; this may not be the last we hear of this.

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