Sunday, January 18, 2009



In the few games he has officiated in the A-League, young Chris Beath has shown very promising signs. Unlike many of the other referees in the competition, he is genuinely unafraid of punshing violent play, and has been fairly consistent overall.

However, in this afternoon's match in Wellington he fell into a trap that snares plenty of refs: the temptation to go easy on a home side when one critical, game-changing call has gone against them.

In the current case, that call was the dismissal of Wellington's captain Tim Brown for a second cautionable offence. Although the first yellow card (given in the first half) was a little harsh, there was absolutely no doubt about the second, which Brown earned by cynically impeding Adelaide's captain Travis Dodd as the latter surged forward on the counter.

But to send a captain off before a home crowd earns you a fair bit of heckling, and Beath adopted a conciliatory attitude for the rest of the game. His change of heart was clear only a minute later, when Leo Bertos, also booked in the first period, blatantly body-checked Dodd on another Adelaide breakaway. It was, very clearly, an offence worthy of a card...which would have reduced Wellington to nine. Yet Bertos received nothing more than a talking-to.

No, folks, that is not common-sense refereeing (as the commentators often glibly observe). It's inconsistency.

And, sadly, it continued thereafter. Daniel, never averse to a bit of gamesmanship, deliberately handled the ball on another Adelaide break, and then kept hold of the ball following Beath's whistle, to prevent Adelaide from taking the free kick quickly. Again, a yellow card was richly deserved. Again, Beath did nothing.

Finally, a few minutes before the end, Scott Jamieson was the victim of a classic "professional foul" from Manny Muscat on the edge of the Wellington area. Still no card.

To reiterate, Beath appears a promising young ref. But he, like the rest of the "panel", has to be careful of becoming overly indulgent with a home side once they have suffered a nasty blow. They deserve no special favours as a result.

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