Date: 22nd January 2014 at 3:00pm
Written by:

Journalism student Billy Hawkins reflects on another week of diabolical refereeing in a Watford game & the second-class nature of the Football League

FOLLOWING a week of controversy, and another draw for Beppe Sannino`s Watford side, one would imagine that things should stabilise in the near future.

Unfortunately, football doesn`t work like that.

A seemingly endless run of despair has engulfed the Hornets, and there doesn`t appear to be a way out of it.

Troy Deeney is still struggling to score, referees are still catastrophic, and injuries and suspensions are never more than a few moments away.

The draw at Bournemouth – encompassing all three – would be the perfect snapshot of this season if it were to end today.

Aside from questionable decision making from the match officials, the Watford performance was once again an improvement on previous weeks; although Bournemouth had six shots on target, two of those were from penalties, and a further two came from rebounds after Manuel Almunia saved the second spot kick.

Yet, whilst the defence improves game upon game, the offensive line seems as nonplussed as ever.

Lewis McGugan – receiver of cynicism in my last article – missed the target with a fairly simple strike dragged wide of goal, but once again repaid his inclusion with a perfectly struck free kick which Gabriele Angella headed past Lee Camp in the Bournemouth goal.

The second half followed the descent into anarchy well documented elsewhere.

Fitz Hall tugging on Lewis Grabban`s shirt resulted in a penalty, and a red card for Angella – which has now been transferred onto Hall – which Grabban converted.

Hall then slid in on Marc Pugh, who, after going down rather theatrically with no clear indication of contact from the defender, could have just rolled the ball into the open net.

Grabban faced Almunia again, went the same way with the penalty, and Almunia saved it – before then performing a tremendous double save to keep out the powerfully struck rebound.

Angella`s card – and the suspension it entails – was rescinded on Tuesday, being transferred to Hall. Yet, whilst the club still suffer from bad officiating – Angella missed 30 minutes of an important league fixture – the officials in charge – one Carl Boyeson – do not have to answer for their mistakes.

Ulike the Premier League, where every game and every decision is praised or derided from multiple angles, the media coverage of a mid-Championship level fixture – whilst important for the two teams involved – is near enough non-evident.

Whilst Watford fans – and to a certain extent Bournemouth fans – will discuss the decision making on show, the wider press will not pick up on such a needless game as the readership would be trivial in relation to the money pulling Premier League.

It is a sorry state when not even the English public find interest in their own football league. Whilst the Premier League is easier to access – television, radio and print journalism focus upon the large public appeal – the Football League holds a strangely romantic charm which has existed from its formation.

It is seen as historic and quaint, yet the powers that control the Football Association see it as no more than a feeder competition for the Premier League; the competition that controls all others. One would hope that the F.A does update their game to aid both clubs and referees in the search for – what one would describe as – ‘perfect` football.

We have come a long way from the game played 100 years ago – or even just 10 years ago – and the desire for the perfect blend of happiness and correctness rules the sport.

The recent inclusion of goal line technology – once again reserved for the Premier League – suggests we are moving forward, and one can only hope that the FA understands what needs improving and actually implements ideas to better the sport which has a global appeal.