A FORMER Border Amateur referee believes it’s time to blow the whistle on those who shout abuse from the touchline.
But Gerry Monaghan, who was a leading official on the local scene for more than 25 years, admitted the current controversy which has marred the sport at the very top – with talk of conspiracies and referees going on strike – could easily be avoided by adopting honesty as the best policy.
Now Border Amateur League fixture secretary, Mr Monaghan stumbled upon officiating after his playing career was brought to a premature end as a result of a serious injury at the age of just 20.
That was back in 1983 and he admitted the job has been made more difficult by ‘outside forces’.
He told the Hawick News: “The issue we’ve got is there’s so much activity on the touchline, that’s the main crux of the problem.
“Referees have a difficult enough job looking after what’s happening on the park, but more and more things are happening off it.
“This, in turn, affects their levels of concentration and it’s the same at any level.
“I’ve spoken to friends who are referees in the SPL and they’re quite disgusted with what’s been happening recently.”
The matter in Scotland was brought to a bitter head by the now notorious decision by whistler Dougie McDonald to change his mind by not awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United back in October. The grade one official later lied to Hoops boss Neil Lennon about his change of heart.
But Mr Monaghan believes it could easily have been avoided.
He said: “I think it’s important you have credibility and honesty and certain parties further up the line didn’t do that.
“Once that goes then, as we’ve seen, we’re in trouble.
“Referees are under the spotlight big time and I think their job is going to get harder, whether up the park or at Celtic Park.
“But I like to think I earned the respect of players and club officials during my time. If you talk to them in the right manner at the right time then that goes a long way to preventing problems.
“Sadly, I’ve often seen referees speaking in a manner I would say was very unprofessional.”
While talks still go on to bring some stability back to officialdom at the highest level in this country, Mr Monaghan is confident there will be no repeat of the industrial action down at a local level here.
And after welcoming the first female into their ranks in Lorraine Quinn, from Galashiels, he revealed interest in becoming a referee is still strong.
“Unfortunately I know of one referee who gave up after four games this season, because he couldn’t cope with the abuse,” he said.
“But I think the encouraging thing is there are still people prepared to attend the refereeing courses and there’s a good system in place to allow that to happen.
“At the end of the day, if we don’t have a nucleus of people coming through then, quite simply, there will be no games.”