The State of Officiating
Referee's can be good, bad or indifferent; but can we really learn from our mistakes?
In the current climate of refereeing, where a premise of becoming an official is having to be in a condition almost parallel to a modern day footballer, guidelines are becoming more stringent and more exclusive for officials; whilst at the same time there evidently are not enough referees to go around.
This paradox is serving to keep maligned officials at the top, and this self-perpetuating ethic sends a tremor throughout the leagues, with lower levels suffering with sub-standard officiating, simply because the officials are willing, but perhaps not so able.
Taking issue with these stringent guidelines mentioned above, it was interesting to see Mr. Kettle`s performance in QPR`s championship fixture with Charlton at the weekend. Evidently there are fitness guidelines in becoming an official, indeed I am led to believe that officials take fitness tests.
Mr. Kettle officiated most of the fixture from the centre circle, and was quite evidently struggling to keep up with open play, and thus being heavily over-reliant on his assistants, or even, hazarding a guess at decisions, which led to some baffling calls.
Having seen referee Kettle`s performance at the weekend it became rapidly obvious that his fitness levels became something akin to that of Neil Ruddock, and this truly hampered his ability to officiate the game in an appropriate manner.
Whilst making it exceedingly difficult for the cream of officiating, whatever is left of it in the football league, to rise to the top, referees such as Mr. Kettle are preserved and undeterred because they are willing to hand out a staggering amount of cards.
One thing is certainly true is that in the case of Steve Baines, an excellent referee and ex-Chesterfield player, he was denied a place at the top simply because he had to work his way up after a playing career. Nevertheless a referee of good standard but allowed to go no further than the football league, because of his lack of credentials.
Officiating in England will not be resolved unless there is a radical reformation that encourages players to take up officiating, whilst also seeing that the best referee`s make it to the top, not the card-happy ones. It seems strange that what Keith Hackett believes to be the best official for the occasion, is in direct opposition to that of the majority of fans.
However I digress, I wish to move forward and discuss the facts and statistics for this weekend`s official, Phil Joslin.
Phil Joslin of Nottinghamshire in an experienced official that has never really got his chance at the big games and has spent the majority of his career in the lower reaches of the football league. He got his first taste of league refereeing in August 1999, when he took charge of Halifax`s 1-0 home defeat against Darlington with fitness stricken Marco Gabbiadini scoring the winner.
He had to wait two seasons before taking charge of the R`s for a first time. In November 2001 he booked Marcus Bignot in a 2-1 home defeat against Tranmere in Division 2. Andy Thompson had levelled the score in the 90th minute, only for ex-Everton striker Stuart Barlow to win in shortly after.
The Sky camera`s then beckoned for Phil as he refereed the R`s at home to Blackpool. Rangers 2-1 victory came courtesy of an horrendous own goal from defender Chris Clarke, passing the ball past former R`s loanee for a day, Phil Barnes.
In the R`s promotion season Mr. Joslin took charge of the R`s 3 times. There was cup upset as Division 2 Rangers dumped their Division 1 counterparts Sheffield United out the League Cup 2-0 at Bramall Lane; Rangers then won the LDV Vans trophy Southern Section Quarter Final against Brighton, with a certain Zesh Rehman playing for the opposition.
Finally that season Mr. Joslin was back infront of the Sky camera`s as the R`s snatched a point from the jaws of defeat with Kevin Gallen notching in the dying stages against Peterborough, to preserve the R`s long-standing home unbeaten record.
The following season Phil oversaw the Rangers a 1-1 draw with relegation rivals Gillingham. Two seasons later Mr. Joslin got another Rangers game infront of the Sky camera`s, Ray Jones` winner at the death secured all three points for the R`s, booking Stefan Bailey, Marc Nygaard and Marcus Bignot in the process. Bailey`s being a particularly robust challenge.
Cardiff got their own back under the eyes of Joslin, when earlier this season they fairly swept the R`s away at Loftus Road, 2-0, with Bolder and Rehman picking up yellows.
From past experiences of Phil Joslin, I personally find him to be a tolerable referee and personality on the pitch. Always has a smile on his face, which tends to infuriate fans when wrong decisions arise. Never quick to go to his pocket, and will often assess a situation without showing his cards, which is an admirable quality in a modern day official. Here`s to hoping he lives up the decent build up.
This season Mr. Joslin in 34 games, has handed out 109 yellow cards and 6 reds, most recently sending off Plymouth Argyle winger Peter Halmosi in their home 1-1 draw against Watford.
Games Taken Charge:
10th November 2001 - QPR 1-2 Tranmere Rovers
14th October 2002 - QPR 2-1 Blackpool
23rd September 2003 - Sheffield United 0-2 QPR
7th December 2003 - QPR 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
20th February 2004 - QPR 1-1 Peterborough United
5th April 2005 - QPR 1-1 Gillingham
17th November 2006 - Cardiff City 0-1 QPR
18th August 2007 - QPR 0-2 Cardiff City
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