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Officials: Make Your Minds Up!

By: Richard Lord
Date: 10/03/2002

IF you were watching last night's FA Cup quarter final clash between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on BBC1, you would have noticed a clear case of double standards in the second half.

With the game delicately balanced at 1-1 and both teams looking for a win, the Gunners' keeper and England Under-21 hopeful Richard Wright was at the centre of attention when he handled the ball outside of his penalty area.

Don't remember the incident?

There wasn't a great fuss over it, as the match referee let off Wright. However in the Division One match between Watford and Grimsby, a similar incident wasn't overlooked.

It concerned a certain Gifton Noel-Williams, the Grimsby Town back line, Patrick Blondeau and referee Brandwood.

The live FA Cup match last night saw an offside flag raised against a Newcastle striker but the referee waved play on. Richard Wright picked the ball up outside of his area to take what he thought was a free kick.

Strangely the referee let the incident pass with no punishment and clearly deprived Newcastle of a perfectly legal free kick.

If he applied the rules then Wright would have at least been booked and Newcastle would have had a free kick in a dangerous position. Arsenal would perhaps feel hard done by but they should have played to the whistle.

Which brings me back to the game at Vicarage Road. The lineman raised his flag but the referee played on. Noel-Williams took full advantage and scored, but what if Coyne had got to the ball first and picked it up to take what he thought was a free kick?

I feel that the referee would have surely punished Town for this. Yet later in the game McDermott was clearly onside when a through-ball was played, but Jevons was stood offside but in a non-active position.

Yet in that instance the linesman raised his flag and the referee blew for a free kick to Watford for offside. Is it one rule for one, and another rule for another?

You can make your own minds up.



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