David Meier's refereeing column: Cork penalty was a brilliant decision
Betweenthestripes.ie is delighted to launch a brand new weekly column written by former League of Ireland referee David Meier. A Former FIFA Assistant Referee, who nowadays works in the media covering all things refereeing and much more, David Meier has been a regular panelist on Sports Tonight TV and has also worked on the BBC in Ulster on The Nolan Show and numerous other radio shows around the world. On the refereeing front David had many European Trips over his career and was involved in many top games in the Eircom League as it was called then.
It is not an easy job to referee a game of football between twenty two players and hope to keep everyone happy. The moment you blow your whistle and give any decision to either side you alienate the other eleven. It can sometimes be an impossible job with so much criticism aimed at officials. But in these days of modern football, to be a match official is an honor. It takes a lot of hard work and discipline to become a top official but once you make it to the top anything is possible. It is the one profession where there are so many levels and so many different people fitting into different categories. The top referees in this country officiate in the SSE Airtricity League and to get to that level you have to be the cream of the crop in refereeing. Once a referee makes it to that level, some people have the misconception that a referee will not make mistakes, that is totally and utterly wrong in my opinion. It is a level where you will find referees who make very few mistakes and are consistently good at what they do. As a football fan it can be hard sometimes to accept this, but believe me all the statistics out there will prove me right. A lot of the time you will hear comments in the media like the game ended in controversy, or the referee was very controversial on the night. These comments are usually made by people who would not know the rules of the game to the back end of a horse. Not only do they not know the rules but they also do not know how to apply them, this is something that comes like a breath of fresh air to the top guys in the refereeing world.
If I may can I take you back to the so called controversial penalty in the Bohemians v Cork City game recently. It was a night of raw emotion inside Dalymount Park and the game itself was superb and a lot of credit has to go to referee Rob Rogers, who let the game flow right from the start. The incident that everybody was talking about after the game was the awarding of a penalty to Cork in the 85th minute of the game which gave the men from the south the chance to salvage a draw and get a replay from the game. In my opinion it was a brilliant decision by a referee who was on top of his game, the dive in by Darragh Leahy on Cork City’s Conor McCArthy was out of control and if it had been done in any other part of the pitch it was a free kick all day long, so the fact that it happened inside the penalty area should have not make any difference.
I have said over the years that there are more than two teams on a football pitch and in this instance I am sure it was team work that got the correct decision. In the big scheme of things on the night, awarding the penalty so late in the game was always going to cause controversy but in fact it was not controversial, it was a 100% correct. The decision may have cost Bohemians a place in the FAI Cup Final for the first time since 2008 but it was the right decision of that there should have been no doubt.
The aftermath of the game produced so many different views from players and ex-players as to whether it was or not a spot kick. I saw that the Soccer Republic show even ran a poll and the outcome of that split 50/50. It just goes to show you in today's modern game how different peoples opinions can be. I have seen Rob Rogers referee quite a few times over the years and in my opinion he is one of the better ones and works very hard at his game. For a full ninety minutes in Dalymount he was on top of his game and when the big call came late in the match he was ready to put his reputation on the line.
No matter what you do as a referee there will be people out there who want to shoot the officials down and whinge and moan about how bad the referee was for their side, but on a lovely September evening in Dublin last Friday week Rob Rogers and his team produced a near excellent performance. Some pundits will probably disagree with my opinion, but so be it, that is what makes this beautiful game of ours so exciting, the voice of opinion. Although there are only a few weeks left in what has been a magnificent season for everybody involved, I have no doubt we will have a few more questionable decisions but the lads who are at the top table of refereeing in this country will deal with them and I expect the proper outcome to be arrived at.
Until I write again enjoy your games and don't get to frustrated if the referees decision goes against your club, it is nothing personal, trust me.