All's Not Well With Attwell

Saturday's result against the Posh of Peterborough (now thankfully free of threats from Mrs Beckham over copyright) was one we would have settled on before K.O. but there's always a disappointment when squandering a 2 goal lead in true Tranmere fashion.

The bizarre happenings at Watford, where the visitors, Reading were awarded a goal when the ball was closer to the corner flag than the goal line. The video was on Youtube but seems to have been removed due to pressure from The Football League, and no doubt the referee, Stuart Attwell (aged 25) will be subject to sanctions whilst the FA and FL make money out of end of season blooper DVDs.

However, it is still here.

What I'm annoyed at is the fact that most of the flak appears to be directed at the young ref rather than the linesman (assistant referee/flag production manager). The Mirror, in its paper edition leads - albeit on page 25 - with ' He doesn't shoot...he scores anyway' and goes on to inform us that Attwell escaped the attention of the tabloid hounds and 'went on holiday.'

Online, Alistair Grant salivates, 'Calamity ref Stuart Attwell and his hapless sidekick Nigel Bannister will be carpeted by referees' chiefs after making one of the worst blunders in football history.'

Well, surely there's some fair play left in sport notwithstanding the high stakes? Ah, no this is professionalism. Remember that when you inadvertently touch the cue ball at pool and hope the opponent didn't notice; it is just the hallmark of a professional.

Steve Coppell, Reading manager, was quoted as saying that when playing cricket he was first to walk without waiting for the umpire's finger. I don't doubt Coppell's honesty. He was a true professional and I am privileged to have seen many of his games for Tranmere Rovers, before he was stolen by the behemoths of Manchester United. He has also suggested replaying the game.

As football fans we are biased; we should not be relied upon to be objective, in the same way as murder victims' families should not be on juries. Our tribal instincts take over. We cast a Nelson telescope to our rose-coloured spectacles and see no offside until we want to.

In 2000, the Mighty Whites of TRFC received a charitable donation from referee Rob Harris in our cup game with Sunderland. Having sent off Clint Hill (not a singular occurrence) we (ahem) forgot to bring off a player as we made a substitution. Did we complain about our breach of rules? No, we sat in the pub praying that John Aldridge would take legal counsel before giving his post-match interview.

Similarly, did the hosts of the 1966 World Cup and supporters demand the upholding of the English sense of fair play when the Azerbajhan (or Russian) linesman, Tofik Bakhramov signalled that Hurst had scored? Who now remembers the name of the Swiss referee?

They won't be erecting a statue for Attwell in his hometown of Nuneaton. Nor will they be doing the same for the actual linesman, Neil Bannister. If you're going to make a mistake, do it big.