I think we’ve all been there. A dubious decision from a referee that is quite obviously wrong. A decision that could, potentially, change the course of a game and, as a consequence, a season. A red card given (or, indeed, not given) to a centre back for a clear professional foul or a penalty awarded for a dive or not awarded when both the forward’s legs were taken as he was about to slot the ball home. What makes these incidents worse is that every fan in the ground can see that it’s wrong, every player on the pitch can see that it’s wrong and every one of the billions of people watching worldwide can see that it’s wrong.
Yet, the decision is made and the referee isn’t going to change his mind.
“Tell me, David,” I hear you say… “Just who could have wound you up like this?” Could it be Mark Clattenburg and his extravagant showmanship in awarding kicks? Or maybe Peter Walton, who has managed to badly officiate most of the recent visits of Liverpudlian clubs to the City of Manchester Stadium? Perhaps Howard Webb and his penalty decision at Old Trafford? Maybe even the now retired Graham Poll and his three yellow cards.
But no, it is none of these men. Indeed, anybody who regularly reads what I have to say will know that I’m a firm believer in not criticising referees. They have a difficult job, says I. They have to make spur of the moment decisions, with no help from video replays, and they’re expected to get every single one of them correct, so, with this is mind, you must be wondering who it is that has caused me such fury to the point of a near murderous rampage.
His name, dear reader, is Derek Milborrow.
And the man is a complete anus of the highest order.
(Incidentally, if you have no idea who Derek Milborrow is, you’re probably better off stopping reading here. If you do know who he is, then you, like me, have played Fifa 11 at some point this year and have been screwed over by one, some, more or all of his decisions. Some people get on with the game, others get annoyed and turn off the console. I, on the other hand, write 932 words complaining about him on a football website. Some people say I need to sort my priorities out.)
This man was single-handedly responsible for Manchester City not winning the FA Cup at the end of the 2012/13 season. Not content with awarding free kicks for running, tackling fairly, passing, shooting, winning corners, breathing and purely existing, he took it upon himself to book any Manchester City player that was responsible for any slight indiscretion.
Liverpool probably couldn’t believe their luck.
It started brightly, with a goal through Carlos Tevez on just 2 minutes, but it quickly went downhill faster than a bathtub in Holmfirth. Fernando Torres, tripped by Dirk Kuyt in the area, won a penalty, with the City players clueless, given that there wasn’t a single one of them near the incident. A header from a corner by Vincent Kompany was then not given as a goal, despite the ball travelling a good yard over the line, before Gareth Barry was sent off for being fouled by Joe Cole. James Milner then slotted home, but was ruled offside, despite the pass to him being a backward one, before Liverpool won the day as Milan Jovanović hacked down Kolo Touré, missing the ball entirely, before thumping it past Joe Hart.
While Andy Gray, the man who loves to disagree with refereeing decisions on Sky Sports, infuriated me further by stating, without hesitation and with complete conviction, that the referee had no option. I normally don’t mind Andy Gray and generally agree with him, but this almost had me ready to smash the mug on by bedside cabinet.
More irritating, though, wasn’t his frequent awards of free kicks for winning battles of strength (while not awarding them the other way in the very same situation), nor his inability to play an advantage in a good position (unless it’s for the opposition), but rather his smug, arrogant, self-righteous posture as he thrust his arm in the air to indicate the direction of the foul, with a speed that would be worthy of the Third Reich.
And his whistle! The maddening three short peeps he gives when pulling back the play. From a stumble in a challenge: Peep! Peep! Peep! From any shoulder-to-shoulder: Peep! Peep! Peep! For a fair sliding tackle: Peep! Peep! Peep! For nearly everything that happens in the entire match: Peep! Peep! Peep!
It reached the point in that FA Cup final that, with around 67 minutes played, I screamed at the television: “If you blow that f****** thing one more time, I’m going to shove it up your a***!” And this was at 2.30am, so, if they heard, God only knows what the neighbours thought was going on.
Anybody who has had a game officiated by this man will understand my pain. Fifa 11 is home to some strict and to some lenient referees, but there is only one who is both strict and completely incompetent, bordering on useless. I’m pretty sure a rubber plant could do a better job than Milborrow. At least it wouldn’t be capable of rational or irrational thought and, as such, couldn’t just make up some new rules to play by.
“1-0 to the referee!” as a chant is a must for next year’s game.
Especially if this lunatic returns.