TOM OVEBRO – Chelsea v Barcelona – 2009 Champions League
“IT’S A DISGRACE, IT’S A F***ING DISGRACE” shouted an utterly livid Dider Drogba into the lens of a camera after his side were again left wanting in the latter stages of a Champions League tournament. Having held Barcelona 0-0 the week previously, Chelsea were marginal favourites to progress in the 2009 Champions League Semi-Final. After going 1-0 up, it looked as though Chelsea would hold out with reasonable comfort to progress, but Andres Iniesta popped up with Barcelona’s only chance to equalise in injury time. There was still time however for Chelsea to be denied a penalty after a controversial Samuel Eto’o handball was ignored by the referee. Cue mass hysteria at the final whistle…
GRAHAM POLL – Everton v Liverpool – 2000
In the dying seconds of the Goodison Derby, a free kick taken by Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld struck Don Hutchison in the back and rolled into the net. The blues of Merseyside were sent into raptures for about three seconds before it became apparent than Graham Poll had disallowed the goal. This was because Don Hutchison was apparently “not far enough away for the kick to be taken”, the referee having also blown for full time with the score at 0-0. It would not be until years later (in his autobiography) that Poll admitted he had ruled out “a perfectly good goal”. 1985 remains the last time Everton completed a league double over Liverpool, and on current form, it’s going to stay that way for a good while yet.
PETER JONES – Arsenal v Sheffield United – 1999 FA Cup
One of the only times in living memory that a cup tie has been replayed on the grounds of a bad refereeing decision. With a little over fifteen minutes remaining, the Gunners were being held 1-1 and a replay loomed large. After Arsenal’s Giles Grimandi flattened Lee Morris in the area, referee refused a penalty and awarded a thrown in for Arsenal. Ray Parlour tried to be the sportsman, but his attempted throw to United’s goalkeeper Alan Kelly was cut out by Kanu who fed the ball to Overmars who, amidst utter confusion, duly tapped in to give Arsenal the lead. The goal stood, and a huge, eight-minute melee followed the goal – calm was eventually restored, and Arsenal held out to win. A rematch at Highbury followed, and the same 2-1 result was yielded by Arsenal – but for Sheffield United, it’s a case of “what could have been”.
PIERLUIGI COLLINA – Villarreal v Everton – 2005 Champions League
With the game finely poised at 1-1, Everton needed just one more goal to send a difficult Champions League qualification tie into extra time. Collina was on the verge of retirement at this time, and an otherwise stellar career of disciplinarianism and rationality was hugely marked when Duncan Ferguson headed home what seemed to be the winner. A perfectly executed header was ruled out on grounds that Marcus Bent had committed a foul. Scrutinous post match analysis ruled this decision to be incorrect, but it was too late, and Everton’s only chance of playing against the very best was dashed forever.
KARL-JOSEF ASSENMACHER – Holland v England – 1993 World Cup Qualifier
“Do I not like that?” – the immortal words uttered by doomed England manager Graham Taylor as his side lost in Holland to kill off any feasible chance of qualification for the 1994 World Cup. After briefly reviving the qualification campaign, this was the classic “knife edge” match in which England had to get a result. England had been let off the hook after a Frank Rijkaard goal was wrongly disallowed, but after a Dutch free kick was questionable retaken soon after, Ronald Koeman scored to put the Dutch ahead. Koeman technically shouldn’t have been on the field as he committed a professional foul on David Platt worthy of a straight red. After Paul Merson hit the woodwork late on, Dennis Bergkamp scored to effectively send England out. Yes, referee Assenmacher truly did “make an ass” of himself that night…
MARK CLATTENBURG – Man Utd v Spurs – 2005
Manchester United have always been accused of having unfair decisions go their way in home games, mainly attributed to Sir Alex Ferguson’s influential nature, but this one really took the biscuit. Having played a brave game, Tottenham had held Manchester United at 0-0 in their own backyard, but looked as though they had gone one better when Roy Carroll fumbled a shot from long-range expert Pedro Mendes three feet over the line before scooping it out. Remarkably, referee Clattenburg turned a blind eye to protests and no goal was awarded, the final whistle blowing moments later.
Ankaragucu v Besiktas
Turkey is renowned for its “exuberant” fans, and would be the last place a referee would want to upset the cart. But that’s exactly what happened in a Superlig match between Ankaragucu and Besiktas, and bizarrely the referee let HIS goal stand after the cross – which was also offside! If only some players could head the ball as well as that referee…
DOUGIE SMITH – Booking Gazza – 1996
Some referees really do need to get a sense of humour, and it was an insult to the way Gazza (at that time) livened the game with a combination of unique skill and unfathomable hilarity. After referee Dougie Smith dropped his yellow card, Rangers man Paul Gascoigne picked it up and flashed it at the referee, who took offence and promptly returned the favour…
FC Manchester International v Chorlton Villa – 2009 Sunday League
This decision really is a stinker, and sounds like something out of the 1850s. In this Sunday league game, a Chorlton Villa player was booked for loudly breaking wind as the opposition took a free kick, which was retaken. After the game, the Chorlton Villa manager Ian Treadwell said:
“One of our players ‘broke wind’ and only the referee heard it and he booked the player.
“The other player had the penalty saved because it was a bad penalty; it was nothing to do with any noise. They were as shocked as we were as to why.
“We are not a dirty team and we like to play football.
“While I won’t condone the actions of the players, it is an emotive game and some of the players were sent off for entering into conversation with the referee.
“This has come at a bad time in the season as we don’t have sponsor and we are looking for a new sponsor for next season.”
Sunday Leaguers please take note: A night on the sauce followed by dodgy Chicken Vindaloo is not a good idea with eight hours to kick off…
Argentinian referee nearly dies after power trip
This one really does top the bill. Never before has a referee sent off EIGHTEEN players at once, but in an Argentinian Serie C game last year, Barracas Bolivar and General Lamadrid joined forces in an attempt to lynch the hapless referee. Remarkably, none of the red cards were overturned, meaning that both sides were forced to field reserve teams for several games afterwards.