IT’S always the minority that ruins it for the majority.”
Albury Wodonga Football Association president Simon Randall is hoping to stamp out instances of referee abuse this weekend.
The Association has jumped on board Football NSW’s ‘Shoosh’ campaign, aimed at making the pitch a better environment for referees and players alike.
The premise is simple; if you have a negative comment, just shoosh.
“At the end of the day we all barrack for our kids, but sometimes we cross that line, regardless of where that is,” Randall said.
“The referees are asked to make spur of the moment decisions, whereas the armchair critics out there get a few seconds to make up their minds.
“Be it rightly or wrongly, it’s souring the game for everybody else.
“It’s a hard job at the best of times, let alone having someone on the sidelines giving you a gobful.
“The refs should be able to concentrate on the 22 players on the field, not what’s happening on the sideline.”
Randall said the actions of a minority of supporters had forced the league to take action.
“We’d be talking less than one or two percent of the whole footballing community, but it ruins it for everyone, especially the referees,” he said.
“The referees association last year had between 55-57 members, this season it’s in the low-to-mid 30s.
“I wouldn’t mind daring to say that half of them would have left because of the abuse they cop on the weekend.
“They get over it and they’ve had enough.
“We’re trying to encourage more referees into the game because without them, we don’t have a game.
“We have club referees, and people don’t want that, they see a possibility of bias and cheating, which we want to get away from.”
Referees Association president Andrew Nicholl said there was no doubt heckling and abuse had contributed to the number of referees calling it quits.
“There is no doubt that some people come and try refereeing for one year, and the actions of spectators influence whether or not they come back,” he said.
“But they’re all out there doing their best for the game, they’re asked to make a decision.
“Generally most of the decisions are correct under the laws of the game, but many spectators don’t understand the laws of the game or interpret them correctly.”
Round 15 has some crucial games, including a blockbuster between ladder leaders Cobram Roar and form side Wangaratta in Cobram.
Myrtleford return to Savoy Park to host the Albury Hotspurs.
Both sides will be desperate to get back onto the winners’ list after tough losses last round.
St Pats host Albury City, Melrose face Boomers, Albury United talker the Wodonga Diamonds and Wodonga Heart face Twin City.