I wrote in Forty-20 magazine earlier in the year about why I was falling out of love with the sport, but since then, things have gotten worse.
The moron (let’s not beat about the bush here) who tossed a pint pot at James Child and was subsequently banned from Salford was the last straw. It rightly ignited a discussion about the amount of abuse match officials put up with.
I don’t want to have to spend my evening dodging idiots who’ve had too many lager tops.
When Salford were protesting about the possible name change, post-match, I witnessed one idiot who was rolling about legless, shouting for Marwan Koukash to come outside and physically fight him about it!
And my wife wonders why I don’t want to take my son to evening games.
Match officials have a very difficult job, but it’s not helped when they also make such elementary errors as I saw last night on TV.
When Salford were penalised for a high shot, which clearly it wasn’t, it was the home fans screaming in the ear of the touch judge that flapped, and gave the penalty.
I doubt very much that one decision changed the game, but when the massed ranks of the Sky Sports team also felt it was the wrong decision, then we know that there is a problem.
Castleford were easily the better team, but the match officials must accept that they are also not infallible.
They do make errors, but never do we, as paying fans, ever find out what steps are taken when an official messes up.
A couple of weeks ago, Gareth Hewer was having a blinder of a game (Catalan v Leigh) until he missed a push on a Catalan player and a foot in touch in the same move to allow Leigh to score.
Now, this is a referee who was considered good enough to get the Challenge Cup final whistle no so long ago.
Yes, fans and the media need to lay off match officials, but surely it is beholden to the RFL and the match officials head, Steve Ganson, to explain to fans and the media when one of his team messes up, what steps are taken to try and make certain the problem is dealt with?
Or is he so wrapped up in himself that he feels he and his charges are above any criticism?
I don’t believe that the RFL are corrupt, but I do think that match officials are inherently biased against certain teams, all be it unintentionally.
Is there a solution?
It wouldn’t stop the problem, but perhaps if we had former players in the booth assisting the referee, we might not have as many problems.
We don’t need a giant screen at every game, but as Sky are there filming it anyway, why not have a former player with the camera crew watching and linked to the man in the middle?