SniperTube episode 3: Refereeing special

It’s often said that referees have the hardest job in football, vilified by both sets of fans, harangued and intimidated by both sets of players, and (in the Premier League, at least) every split-second decision analysed and talked about for days or even weeks after. It’s also remarked that because they haven’t played the game to a high standard, they can’t fully understand or relate to the events on the pitch; because being able to empathise with a player who’s made yet another late tackle is clearly an important attribute for the man in charge. Apparently.

So how nice, then, to see one ref let himself loose and really get stuck in:

It’s not quite a tackle from behind, but it’s a very late lunge, he doesn’t get the ball, and arguably he’s gone in two-footed. How sad to see him bottle the decision, and not even show himself a yellow card. Positively, though, it’s nice to see a referee getting in amongst the action. More of the same, please.


From a referee making a clumsy challenge, to a referee casting off the creative shackles and really making his prescence felt. It’s 1986, and it’s Ankaragucu vs Besiktas. With the game locked at 0-0 and only injury time remaining, Ankaragucu have a corner. The ball comes in, and there’s some admittedly slapstick defnending, until:

The ref ghosts in at the far post, completely unmarked, and nods it home. There’s certainly a case for offside, but the goal stands. The old turn-away-back-header-fall-over routine doesn’t get so much of a run out these days, but our man has got it down to a tee. There must have been a pretty stringent “respect” style campaign going on at this time, if the total non-reaction from the opposition defenders is anything to go by. Imagine Mike Dean equalising for Liverpool in the last minute at Old Trafford. He’d get well merked.


The burning question raised by that last clip is, “Why is the ref standing in the goalmouth?” We know they have a thankless task, but getting into goalscoring positions like that should be left to the strikers. We used to get them at school, these goal-hangers who spend the entire lunch break chatting to the opposition keeper, aside from springing briefly into life when the ball comes within a 2-metre radius.

Perhaps it was the preserve of refs from the 1980’s. Here’s a clip from Brazil from said decade. You just don’t see refs in these positions nowadays:

Time to hang up the whistle and get your shooting boots on, sunshine. You can’t teach that sort of poacher’s instinct.

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