The Updated Database of Arsenal Anniversaries
By Walter Broeckx
There has been a little argument in the comment section about the fact that Sian Masey didn’t raise her flag for a possible penalty for Arsenal or for Norwich at some moment in the game.
As I am a person who does both things (ref and assistant) I know a bit of how things work so I will try to inform you on why she did like she did.
First of all I must admit that I am a great admirer of her. As we have reached the number of 130 reviews so far this season she has been in the picture for a few times. So I and my other ref reviewers have seen her a few times and she always has left a great impression. She is a very quick sprinter, has an excellent vision on offside, knows to run the line. A big, big talent!
One of the things that happens in the dressing room of the refs before the game is the instructions given by the ref. No matter how experienced you are, no matter how many games you did together the ref should always tell you what he wants you to do and also what he wants you not to do. This might come as a surprise but it is not that they just run on the field and each do what they like to do. It is the ref his responsibility to give the instructions and this is a vital part of the match preparation.
I once had a ref with whom we had a great game once after him giving clear instructions. A few months later I had him again as my ref. And he just said before the game: Oh, we did great last time let us just do it like again like the last time. It was a disaster. Because if you get instructions each week that can be different you don’t remember it correct what that ref specifically wants from you. Since then I never go that road again, how good I know the ref and he knows me, I insist that he gives me the instructions each time again. So the instructions are very important.
Now what are those instructions? It is about different things. Of course it is about a ball going out and who will give the direction. Most of the time the assistant does the calls on his half of the field unless the ref has seen a deflection that the assistant maybe could not see. When you have headsets you can speak with each other but if not then most of the time the ref blows his whistle and gives the direction and then the assistant follows the ref.
Another part is about the offside rule. Most refs say: I trust you. And that is it. They ask to keep on standing with the flag till he sees you but that is not a major issue in the PL as they are wired up and will have the use of vibrator flagging system all the time. I must say it is very helpful if you have to make a call and the ref has his back to you to press the button and then he knows that you are standing there with the flag in the air.
And then comes the most difficult part and the part that is variable from ref to ref: how to deal with fouls, penalties, etc…
If a ref tells you, you are not allowed to signal anything of those things….then you can either think of it as an easy afternoon or you can go home as he clearly needs no help. Of course you will not go home but I think it is stupid from a ref to act like that. The assistants are there to help him and when he refuses such help he is making life difficult for himself. But there are such refs who tell that you can only raise the flag for an offside or for a throw.
Some refs tell you only to do the big fouls. Some tell you to also take the little fouls he cannot see because his vision is blocked. This is for the shirt pulling on his blind side but that is clear for the assistant to see.
About penalties most refs tell you only to do the things he could not see. A handball that is not clear to see because of the body covering the angle from the ref. But when they tell you that you cannot touch any other foul, you have to stay away from it. Even if you had the better view, if the ref told you not to do it you have to listen. If the ref gets himself in trouble by giving his instructions like that, he is the one to blame. Not the assistant who was not allowed to help him.
So as you can see the way an assistant operates for fouls and penalties is depending on the ref his instructions. Good refs put a lot of trust on the assistants and this is also good for the team building and togetherness before, during and after the game. So some days you will see an assistant calling some things and the next day you will him not calling the same thing. Then you can be sure that it was because of the instructions of the ref.
About the Arsenal – Norwich game and the fact that Sian Massey did not raise the flag for the handball this could be down to the instructions from the ref. If he had said before the game: you only do the hidden handballs, she could not raise her flag as it was a handball clear to see. If he had said: you don’t do fouls in the penalty area again she had to leave it like that.
However incorrect this might seem, and of course it is incorrect to not allow the assistant his help, but this is the way it can go. I’m not claiming to know the instructions the ref gave before the game but this is what could have happened. In the games I have reviewed I have always felt that Sian Masey is not backing away from taking her responsibility when she has to. Or should I say when she is allowed to?
I must say that it is very frustrating to be the assistant of a ref who will not allow you to help him with the obvious things. And when you see him mess things up you get even more frustrated. You hear the abuse and the assistant is mostly seen as just a part of the evil and bad ref so you get abused as well. I’ve had games where I felt the need to just go to the dressing room and leave it up to the ref to sort it out himself. But you just stay over there and try to do your part of the job that is left for you. But believe me you can get very very frustrated with some refs as an assistant.
And then I wondered that this frustrations could lead up to the fact that for once she had a bit of a f*ck you moment to the ref when she kept the flag down when Gervinho was offside and it lead to the foul and the push in the back of Van Persie. It could have just been the fact that she because of the frustration of seeing an inept referee that she just joined him and went down to his level of refereeing. Or was she so aggrieved by some decisions that she decided to try to try to make up a bit for his mistakes?
It was a very untypical Sian Masey moment to be honest and I really do wonder how she felt after the game with such a ref. But we all can have a bad moment as for the rest I felt for the things she was allowed to do did a great job for most of the time. And even one bad game doesn’t make you a bad ref or assistant. I still think she is one of the best assistants we have in the EPL. Even after our last game.