I was at Vicarage Road on Saturday to witness what was without doubt the worst mistake I have ever seen an official make in football. I don’t really know where to begin with describing how amazing and terrible the whole incident was.
No one knew what was happening; it was a complete mystery as to when the goal was scored. It took about 90 seconds after the incident occurred before any of the players realised that a goal had been given- I don’t think any of the fans realised when exactly the ball was supposed to have gone in the net. No announcement was made over the tannoy of who the goalscorer was. The “goal” was at the opposite end of the pitch from where I was sitting (which happened to be next to the away supporters), but I had a clear view of the incident; I was directly in line with where the ball supposedly crossed the line for a goal- A GOOD 3 OR 4 YARDS TO THE RIGHT OF THE POST.
How? How I ask? I just don’t understand how one man could get it so wrong. It wasn’t even close to being a goal. Nigel Bannister, you are an incompetent disgrace to your profession and have rained down shame upon the glorious sport of football. You were fooled by an “optical illusion”- were you high on hallucinogenic drugs? Were you drunk? Even if you weren’t just say you were; you’ll receive professional help for your problems and sympathy and forgiveness. But no, no, that was not the case, you have no such excuse; you are just a moron unfit to do his job.
And I do not forget you Mr Attwell, the referee who allowed this to occur whilst the beautiful game was entrusted to his stewardship. Of course, I accept you were influenced by the chitter-chatter of a fool in your ear, and this is hard to ignore; you presume the assistant has a better view than you, and thus you listen to his words- he’s there to help. But I saw you Stuart, I saw where you were standing; you must have been able to tell that ball did not go in the goal. I could tell, the whole world could tell. You should not have allowed such a travesty to pass. You are the law on the pitch, the judge, jury and executioner. A simple “No Nige, it really didn’t go in” would have done the job. The officiating team have dealt an almost fatal blow to the respect campaign; how can you respect someone that cannot do their job? It was simply obscene.
OH YEAH, A BIG CLUE THAT THE BALL ISN’T IN THE GOAL IS WHEN AN ATTACKING PLAYER CLEARS THE BALL AWAY FROM THE LINE. What did you think Noel Hunt was trying to do? An inkling of common sense, and this would have been avoided.
A lot of interesting talk has arisen in the aftermath of this incident concerning the conduct of the Reading players following the “goal” and what they possibly should have done. It’s a tough one to call. If someone gives you a goal, you’re not going to look a gifthorse in the mouth. However, when it was such an obvious and grievous error, I really think it’s not in the spirit of the game at all to let such a thing happen and not say or do anything.
This is what Reading’s Stephen Hunt had to say on the matter: “We can’t do anything about it. It’s not our mistake, but what can you do? You can’t say ‘no ref, it wasn’t in’”.
It’s 5 words Stephen. Just 5 words. You could, nay, should have said them. Yet you ran off celebrating because you were given a gift from heaven (plus you’re a twat). Like I said, it’s tough to know what to do in these extremely rare situations, but the Reading players, like everyone else, knew it was not a goal. We’ve seen teams let others score before to right wrongs, and the more I ponder on what happened on Saturday, the more I think that Reading should have done something about it. They knew what went on wasn’t right, yet they did nothing.
The repercussions that follow this should be severe. I think the referee should at the very least be constricted to officiating games below the top two flights of English football for the rest of the season. For the assistant, I think that this could well be the end of the road for his career. In the majority of other professions, an error of such epic proportions would not be tolerated, and I do not see why it should be any different for football. For the respect campaign to work, officials need to be held accountable for their mistakes. There must be a way for some semblance of justice to be gained when these mistakes are made. It’s not quite the same as the lost 2 points, but I will gain a certain degree of satisfaction through seeing these officials appropriately punished. I also think calls for the use of video technology will increase due to this, something I have long been in favour of.
There is indeed a certain degree of bitterness in my writings; Watford were served an unbelievable helping of misfortune and probably denied a valuable win. But I am fair; there have been rumblings of discontent about Reading’s equalising penalty. It was a definite penalty- Eustace, unsurprisingly, dived in foolishly. Bikey’s goal was correctly disallowed; he had mounted the defender, like a cowboy mounting his noble steed before setting off into the sunset.
But these were minor issues on a sunny Saturday that will be remembered for a goal that was never scored. A Saturday where justice died and the glittering game of football was forever tarnished by one man and his flag.