Referees should be able to give some back to football players, and I don’t think they should have to be robots who don’t show emotion.
Over my time as a football fan, I’ve seen Martin Bodenham, Keith Cooper, Roger Milford, Keith Hackett and Rodger Gifford all officiate games live. Two that no fans liked, and the other three were the life of a game normally.
Bodenham and Hackett were old style referees, you didn’t argue with them, they didn’t even entertain any backchat, much like stern head teachers. Players that did knew exactly what would happen.
Milford, Cooper and Gifford were a different style of referee, could have a bit of a laugh with players, in the correct situation, and the crowd. I remember Cooper blowing my dad a kiss once, this was whilst he was on the touchline actually working for Bristol Rovers, they had a human side to them, but still had respect from the players on the pitch.
Bring everything forward and we seem to have gone backwards with how referees are, much like robots without any emotion or simple playfulness in situations. Football has changed massively since the 90’s when the referees I’ve mentioned were officiating the games, but the referees are still stuck in the past.
Imagine going into work, you have 22 people listening to you, making sure you don’t make any mistakes or at least trying not to. Then 1 of those people starts shouting and swearing at you, shaking their finger in and generally saying you weren’t fit to do your job. How do you react?
Darren Drysdale had enough and snapped, not ideal but he gave a bit back to that player who’d gone a bit too far after not getting a decision go his way. Players from both Northampton and Ipswich stepped in to help calm the situation, where Drysdale squared up to Alan Judge and came close to being head-to-head, a referee at breaking point.
Officials have to keep cool at all times, but this was enough to push him over the edge, in any other job someone shouting and swearing at you would get a reaction. Judge was quick to come out and say he didn’t need an explanation or apology, and if that was enough for the player, why did it have to go further. Paul Lambert did make a big thing about it but if you look at his record at Ipswich, it might be seen as a distraction from what was going on at the club.
Referees need to be a bit more human; fans could relate to them easier. Why can’t they stand up for themselves a bit more, not necessarily putting their head towards a player, but at least be able to give something back. I hate making the rugby comparison, but players listen, and a referee has the final say, apart from Owen Farrell at times. They have respect from every single player that steps onto that field, something that is definitely lacking in football.