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Brett's Blog, 1 March

Thursday, March 1 2018

This week Brett reviews the Basingstoke game before offering his views on referees. He did tell me he was going to rant about them but decided to be more balanced instead! The Donnelly family have become infamous for their disciplinary record over the years but I do think Brett is sometimes penalised because of the Donnelly reputation.


So it was Basingstoke away and  2 teams floating around in mid table. We were looking to back up last week's 2 wins with a better performance. I thought we did OK but the result says otherwise. I lost my man at a free kick and he scored for Basingstoke to go one up very early. I'm no defender but that was poor from me. From there on in we huffed and puffed. Webby should have done better with a header in the first half. I then went off with hamstring trouble and it is beginning to annoy me now. Old age seems to be setting in!!

The second half was much the same with no real quality from either side. Burnsy had a great chance to level but the keeper was quickly off his line. Then Trey had a chance after doing well to beat his man but his effort was poor.  So another loss and no goals scored. Believe me as a forward it is very frustrating. We aren't missing bundles of chances and that is more worrying. I know the fans are all crying out for that 30 goal a year man and saying that we need another Frendo. But he  left 5 to 6 years ago. I'd say we haven't done badly without him!!. Those strikers that bang in a lot of goals either get picked up by teams from higher leagues or they want some crazy money. Hitchin haven't got that sort of money. Sadly you are stuck with myself, Connor, Burnsy, Macca & Terry (Trey) at the moment. We want to be scoring every week and winning  4's and 5's. However at the moment we just aren't firing. We also need to be better with our decision making in the final third. That's everyone from Belly to Webby up to me and Connor. We haven't become a terrible team overnight. But we need to put in a complete performance soon, something we haven't done in a long time.

But let us see some smiles in the stands. I had a good chat with some of the boys that came to watch Saturday. They are not silly and know we are not far off. We need just a little bit of luck, for the injuries to disappear and to show a bit more confidence and we'll be back.

Roy's been asking me since we started this column for my take on referees. Maybe he's had enough of my performances and wants me to write myself into a ban! I must be honest  and say my disciplinary record is nothing short of embarrassing! So I haven't really got a lot of nice things to say about referees.

I will start by saying this - without them we haven't got a game. On the flip side of that with them they can ruin a game very quickly. The refs you can have an adult conversation with are the ones I respect the most. A little word in the ear - "Donners stop that, I did see it" or "I will let you both carry on knocking each other about, just don't come crying to me" - that sort of thing would help. To be honest most referees are just little traffic wardens. They are all powerful for 90 minutes. They love being the star of the show. We had one the other week who, after I shouted toward him that it was our throw (which it was) he gave it the other way. He told me to "shut my f***ing mouth". This is despite the FA's Respect campaign which has to work both ways. You have to earn respect. This particular referee wouldn't talk like that to me in the street, but give him a whistle, black kit and a notebook.... WOW.

Referees are not all bad On Sunday mornings you get to know them and you end up knowing which ones you can have a bit of banter with. But at our level they either want to climb the ladder, or are just not good enough to. That means we're stuck with them! Cheers! Mind you elite players get elite refs. We're pretty average players so I guess we get pretty average refs.

Daft yellow card!

Any issue I have had with refs, and my general discipline, I put firmly at my dad's door. He was by all accounts a bit of an animal. Bookings and reds all the time in an era when to get booked you had to literally maim someone. So when I started playing men's football, these little traffic warden types, who all meet up and discuss who they are going to send off this week would see my name and immediately think "like father like son". They probably had a point. I can safely say that since the age of 23 I haven't had to give my name. It is already marked. I think this has happened to Camel (Lewis Rolfe). Now he's no saint. In fact he does some stupid things. I sometimes question if this privately educated man has a brain at all when he steps on to the pitch. But he's now got a reputation and refs will talk about him and if there's any doubt in their mind  as to whether he did or didn't do something then they will just go with the fact it is Rolfe so he must have done it.

Personally my worst time with officials had to be when I was playing Sunday football 15 years ago and received 3 reds in 3 games. The first was in a county cup final.  It was quite prestigious and we were 3-0 up and I had scored a couple. Then a ball is sent over the top and I chase it through. The keeper comes out and gets it. As he does he carries on and crashes into me. Fair play, so I grab his cheeks with my hand and give him a kiss on the lips.  The ref came straight over and couldn't wait to get his red card out. I was done for raising my hands at an opponent.

The second red card was in our next match. I scored a penalty to make it 13-0 or something. The rowdy crowd of about 20 had given me some stick so as I walked back to the half way line I gave them a bit back. The ref yellow carded me and there was no point arguing. Anyway after he sent the paperwork in the FA decide that it should have been a red card for ungentlemanly conduct and stick that to me! So 2 in 2 and on for my hat-trick.

That Sunday it is another final. The ref is known to us all for being very strict. I don't think he likes football the way he refereed it and no contact was allowed at all. But we were all aware of this. I was sub, along with another lad Stuart Potasnick, who was known for his short fuse. In the second half we are winning 4-2, I think. There's a fracas and the striker for us, a placid lad, is sent off for an off the ball incident. Stuart goes on but within 5 minutes he does a two footed tackle. Oh dear. I then get the nod to go on as we had to have a striker on there. I trot about for a minute. We get a throw which I flick down the line and a defender behind me goes down.  The ref comes over and asks the lad on the floor what happened  and he says  I've elbowed him! The ref agrees with him and off I go.... UNBELIEVABLE! I had my hat-trick and got a 17 week ban! But it sums up what some of these men are like. It's a physical game. We all swear too much and shout and scream. But that's because we want to win. The ref has to allow for human emotion. 99% don't.

It is worse now than 15 years ago. Refs are constantly told the assessor is at their game. I think the assessor is a code word for the ref to literally fall to bits. Let them ref as they see fit. We have a ref who does a lot of our games. I think his name is Joel. He talks to you as you want to be talked to, and if he makes a mistake will just say "if I missed it, I missed it". You cannot argue with that and If only all referees had that attitude.

I only have 3 referee friends I think, so hopefully the backlash from this week's blog won't hit me like the goalkeeper blog did!


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