Crio’s Q? – should neutral also mean no personality?

A couple of confessed bloopers by Ben Williams last week and then some publicised, controversial over-rules this weekend has once again got officialdom in to the news. Somehow it is assumed that appointing full-time refs would immediately result in an A-League bereft of mistakes – and the horror has also been an admission of error.

I think that it is refreshing but I also reckon they’ll need to be wary of the umps over-stepping to celebrity.

Although an “invisible arbiter”, there are plenty of examples of successful and highly regarded characters making the calls – Bill Harrigan in the State-of-Origin (now on the speakers’ circuit; Dickie Bird at England Tests…others in boxing, basketball, footy etc.

Do we encourage the adjudicator to display a personality, or should the man in white/black/yellow/green be simply a mobile rulebook?


  1. Personally I like my officiating whistle blowers to remain in the background, I want to watch the game and not their antics. Dickie Bird and Billie Bowden add a little bit of colour but don’t detract from the contest, others like Razor Ray tend to interfere.

  2. Crio, where does billy bowden ist in this equation ?


  3. It’s an excellent question Crio.

    I’m all for colour and personality on the field, god knows modern sport misses it. And the likes of Dickie Bird and Billy Bowden (save the howler decisions) were great.

    However I’m not sure the likes of Razor Ray (add John Russo and Darren Goldspink back in the day) that enjoy being central to the show need any encouragement. There’s a basketball ref in my gumby league that’s the same – get’s off on the power trip and would be shocked to learn he is actually the worst ref in the comp!

  4. Umpires and referees are there to facilitate the entertainment – not be the entertainment. Miking up umpires is always a bad idea. Tempts the egomaniacs among them to get above their role in life.
    In cricket and AFL the reason for any decision can be readily inferred by any half-knowledgeable spectator. Dunno about more technical adjudication in sports like rugby.
    Personality is fine to the extent that you are helping the player understand the reason for the ruling “I warned you before Fred, you had your foot well over the mark”. But it is a means to an end. Not to make you look important (and that Is where I think Razor and Billy went over the line to the detriment of the game and their role).
    David Shepherd displayed a personality without opening his mouth.
    Every young person should learn “don’t argue with a drunk, a fool, a copper or an umpire”.

  5. From the perspective of the 13-a-side rugby game I could have done with seeing less ‘personality’ on the field from Barry ‘Grasshopper’ Gomersall & Greg ‘Hollywood’ Hartley!

Leave a Comment