Date: 19th October 2009 at 1:42pm
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One subject that continues to grab the headlines is the continued saga with Fergie. His excuse of an apology seems to have worsened the situation with the Refs’ Union representatives and everybody is still arguing over what should happen to him.

I believe that a European style ban where he receives a stadium ban rather than a touchline ban is warranted.

I caught up with the message boards and noticed the odd comment about this article.

Its intention at the start of the season was to cover footballing matters as I lived my life. Some have commented that it is no longer specific to their club. I apologise for this but I just do not have the time to write as many articles as I was doing.

Wednesday saw me watching already qualified against Belarus. Missing several key players, it was a chance to look at our strength in depth.

But are we really good enough to win the World Cup? A 3-0 victory appears okay and it was fairly comfortable. However, even though I sincerely hope I am wrong, at present, I do not see us as serious contenders to lift the World Cup next July.

After the tame England victory, surely fireworks would fly in Uruguay v Argentina. What followed was 90 minutes of woeful football that gives England hope. The ref was the busiest man on the pitch, blowing up constantly for free kicks.

Some readers of my articles claim that I have it in for foreigners and on the evidence of this thuggery, maybe they are right.

I am surprised it took 80 minutes to see a red card. It was just foul after foul. The beautiful game was certainly not evident in Montevideo.

During the day, I had written an article for The Sun regarding the suggestion that a couple of Spanish refs, having reached their own country’s retirement age of 45, were to be added to the Premier League list next season.

With the Premier League anything is possible, but I would be amazed if this happened. If we were looking at exchanging officials between leagues across Europe, I could see it being a possibility. However, to add foreign refs just to our list would be a massive slap in the face to home-grown officials.

It would also do nothing to improve the standard of future generations of English refs. In the short term, keeping English refs on beyond the normal retirement age, or indeed bringing in foreign refs, may lead to an improvement.

But the problem in this country is that younger refs have not been brought through the system so they have not gained the necessary experience to ref in the Premier League or in Europe. Giving them fewer opportunities is hardly going to help the situation.

Whilst driving to the Pools’ press conference, I was thinking that it was likely to be a case of same old same old. Journalists basically ask the same or similar questions, whilst the managers give the same old responses.

This week, Hartlepool’s game brought up the inevitable Danny Wilson references. But basically, Pools are always one win away from thinking about the play-offs and one defeat away from looking over their shoulder at the relegation zone.

It is the same at other clubs. Darlington are still looking for their first win and Boro are looking to start performing at home.

Away from the local issues, it would seem that whilst not shouting from the rooftops, many in the game are agreed that Fergie should get hammered by the FA. We will see – that is if we live long enough to finally see the FA take action.

Another Dinner and yet again Oldham was the venue, with a fundraiser for the local Rotary Club. Whilst getting ready to set off for this event, I received one of those phone calls that we all dread.

My mate and long time physio Ronnie Gomer had passed away after a long fight against throat cancer.

Those of you who were involved in the Northern League or ever used the saunas and steam rooms at Eston Baths will know Ronnie, along with the hundreds of local sportsmen who have benefited from his dedicated assistance over the years.

He was “sponge-man” to Tony Lee’s successful sides at Whitby and Billingham Synthonia, and he also worked for the now defunct South Bank. He had a spell at the Boro helping out when Malcolm Allison was in charge.

As well as local cricketers, squash players, rugby players and referees, Ron was held in very high esteem throughout the local Indian community. Many, such as Darlington chairman Raj Singh, will have had their aching limbs and stiff backs cranked and caressed back into working order by Ronnie.

Throughout my career, I met him at least once a week to get a pre-match massage and he sorted out my repetitive calf strains and other aching limbs. But more than this, he was also a friend.

In recent months, he has accompanied me to many mid-week games, especially at the Arena where, as well as being greeted warmly by the many people in the game who knew him, he was quickly accepted by others who warmed to his charm and personality.

I recall limping into his house one morning at eight o’clock then, shortly afterwards, leaving to get a train to London to ref West Ham the same night, extra time included. The guy worked wonders.

Unfortunately, he is no longer around to help mend the broken hearts his passing has left behind. RIP Ronnie – a true friend and a gentleman.

An early kick-off at McDiarmid Park saw Rangers have the chance to go top of the SPL, if only for a few hours. They managed it but in an unconvincing manner. They came from behind to beat off a spirited St. Johnstone outfit 2-1.

And with Celtic being held to a goalless draw by Motherwell, the Bears are back on top of the table.

On the good news front, Darlington not only played well but also gained their first victory of the season against high flying Shrewsbury.

Credit where credit’s due to Steve Staunton and his players, the great escape starts here!!

Likewise, it was great news for Pools as for the second season running, they won away to former manager Danny Wilson’s Swindon Town.

Now they need to transfer their excellent away form to their home matches, starting next Saturday against Tranmere Rovers.

This is something that people will never forget. Whenever I attend any games, I am often the butt of people’s frustrations as they “ask” me my opinions on the match day ref or a particular decision.

I have long since learnt that if my answer is not what they want to hear, I am going to be sneered at. This being said, it is disappointing when some fans choose to boo me at my own club when I am doing a voluntary service for the team I support!!

I have always tried to be honest with my views. You may not like them, that is not the point, but I try and give a qualified opinion on footballing matters.

Sometimes, it is impossible to explain or indeed justify the actions of refs when they are so obviously wrong.

My phone started ringing during the Boro game and continued long into the night after ref Mike Jones’ unbelievable decision to allow Sunderland’s goal to stand after Darren Bent’s shot was deflected into the Liverpool goal past Pepe Reina by a beach ball.

I did a spot for Sky Sports News, an interview for The Mail On Sunday and I had to get up early on Sunday for a slot on Radio 5 Live. Bloody referees – I get no peace because of them.

One telling lesson that came from the “Balloongate” incident was that the “experts” on MotD, along with the club managers, were as oblivious to the Laws of the Game as the ref appeared to be.

That comes as no surprise but the ref should have known better.

I was also asked to go on GMTV’s breakfast show but getting up at half four in the morning to be on the set just after six did not appeal, despite the fee they were offering.

The next Phone in show will be on air on Saturday 24th October after Hartlepool v Tranmere Rovers on Radio Hartlepool. The show will be on 102.4FM from 5-6pm.

So Poolies will have the chance to get their views off their chests immediately after the game.

You can ring me on 01429 275111, contact me to let me know your views by email, or text me on 60300 starting your message off with ‘hart’. Don’t forget, there will be the chance to win tickets for Hartlepool’s next home game.

Enjoy your week.

Jeff Winter

For more of Jeff’s columns visit his official site at jeffwinter.co.uk

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2 Replies to “Winter’s World 19/10: Balloongate!”

  • “Mike Jones’ unbelievable decision to allow Sunderland’s goal to stand after Darren Bent’s shot was deflected into the Liverpool goal past Pepe Reina by a beach ball.”

    Simple this scenario has happened recently in the past. Remember Sheffield Uniteds goal past Man City in the cup in 2008 i think it was? The ball hit a balloon and went in, the goal stood! So this decision is constant with others that have been made. Balloons etc should be banned from the gound and clubs shouldnt release them before the game, they know the risks so unlucky Liverpool you did it yourselves so dont blame anyone other than that fan who put it on the pitch…i would be very surprised if that fan lasts in one piece for very long.

  • “My mate and long time physio Ronnie Gomer had passed away after a long fight against throat cancer.”
    I didn’t know the bloke – but my sympathies for your loss. A loss of a mate is always incredibly hard to come to terms with.

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