There is currently no shortage of talking points, that’s for sure, but I’d like to put on record how disappointing it is that a job well done still rarely results in so much as a mention for our officials.

Mark Cooper, the manager of Forest Green Rovers, unwittingly proved this rule, in a good way, with his answers when interviewed following his side’s recent defeat to Swindon, which saw them slip into the League Two relegation zone.

Unlike so many others faced with similar degrees of adversity, Cooper chose to dig out his own player instead of falling back on scapegoating referee Dean Whitestone after he had refused to fall for his player’s attempted simulation. To his credit, Cooper actually refused to be drawn into the kind of routine post-match criticism we are all used to reading and turned the tables.

“I’m very angry with Christian Doidge,” said Cooper. “He dived twice in the box. Nobody is near him and he’s chosen to fall on the floor when he had a chance to score his 18th and 19th goals [of the season].”

Andre Marriner

And what kind of praise or even acknowledgement comes Andre Marriner’s way in the meantime? Not only has this veteran given an outstanding performance at the Emirates in one of the best games of this campaign last month, but he’s followed that up with a better one still at Anfield, when Manchester City were the visitors.

Like so many referees before him, he has to be content with the cliché that he has done his job by avoiding inclusion in the conversation. And that’s a real shame.

I’m sure most readers will be familiar by now with the curious case of Tony Chapron in France’s Ligue Un.

It’s certainly one for those compilation programmes but beyond that, and whatever punishment this referee may face, I can speak from the player’s point of view and I think the restraint shown by Diego Carlos of Nantes was immense.

The way I played myself meant referees were in the way the whole time, but I don’t think it’s something in itself to moan about, after all, people complain whether they are supposedly too close or too far from play, so thay can’t win!

What I do know is if Chapron had done to me what he did to Carlos the very least he’d have received in return was a good shake… so well done to the player for leaving the field of play with such calm dignity.

Chapron has obviously assumed that the trip by the player was deliberate; he can hardly dress it up as anything else, and I have heard all the excuses he has already come out with.

Yes, it was a bizarre incident, but the best referees can use that kind of thing to improve their relationship with the people they share the pitch with. It might not be one for the training manual or the school coaching session, but there were times when I would go to pull a ref’s shorts down when I played, and that shows you how comfortable and relaxed it is possible to be if you don’t have the kind of paranoid or ‘them and us’ atmosphere that led to to this French farce.


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