For a neutral, the drama created during Leeds United’s 3-2 victory at London Road yesterday must have made for extremely compelling viewing.

After being reduced to ten men, Championship newcomers Peterborough United fought valiantly and with just two minutes remaining looked to have snatched a point from the jaws of defeat.

But Darren O’Dea, who Peterborough fans would argue should have been sent off himself for a poor challenge minutes earlier, levelled the scoring in the 95th minute after the fourth official showed just four minutes of added time. Here we pick up on the big talking points of the game, starting with the “Fergie Time” Darren Ferguson objected so strongly to.

Stop… Fergie Time… 

The irony of Alex Ferguson’s son bemoaning a goal that came after the minutes of added time were played won’t be lost on many. It does however seem that Darren Ferguson is one of them.

But Darren Ferguson’s point that “four minutes is four minutes” is hard to contest – I’ve done the calculations, checked and rechecked my work and it really does seem that four minutes is indeed, four minutes. Just to be sure I contacted Mensa to corroborate my findings and they too are in agreement. As such, I think it’s fair to say this is a valid point Darren Ferguson has made.

Quite what relevance that point has however is anyone’s guess? I can only assume Darren Ferguson failed his managerial test and is extremely hard of hearing, as the rules of the game are most definitely covered in the former and I’ve visited very few stadiums where there isn’t an announcer bellowing over the public address system that “the fourth official has indicated there will be a MINIMUM of…” added time.

The fact of the matter is, there were two free-kicks in added time and like every other team in football, Peterborough tried to run the clock down a little to secure the point. I’ve heard since that Darren Ferguson actually shouted at a ball boy for returning the ball too quick to a Leeds player! We’ve all seen our teams try and waste time, it’s standard practice, but every once in a while you’ll get a referee whose having none of it. That was the case here and he was well within his rights to continue play.

Peterborough’s chairman Darragh MacAnthony was also outraged by the referees performance, guaranteeing himself another fine with this outburst on Twitter;

 “I want my fine money back from FA. Game ruined again by total incompetence. Fix the problem instead of dishing out fines. DO YOUR JOB.”

There are problems in football and I agree with both Darragh and Darren that fines for speaking your mind are an absolute nonsense. Football is about the drama and talking points, it’s why the national rags dedicate half their pages to it and why blogs like this can become so successful – we love the drama, we want to see managers and chairman throwing their teddy out when things go against them.

The biggest problem is that referees are too protected, they face very little scrutiny. I appreciate that they’re there to uphold the law, but even the Police are Policed. Players and managers are scrutinised and made to answer for everything, so why should the referees be any different?

But none of that changes the fact that the four minutes indicated is a minimum. It’s a simple enough rule, but once that board goes up and you’re hanging on, anything beyond those four minutes is torture, and if the result changes in that time it does feel like you’ve been robbed, as Leeds found out v Coventry City and Simon Grayson pointed out following the match;

“I suppose people will say: ‘It’s a minimum of four minutes’ and we conceded a goal against Coventry in exactly the same circumstances. It’s the way football goes.”

Seeing red… 

For me, the red card Peterborough received was more unjust than the Fergie Time winner they conceded. By the letter of the law, it’s a sending off because he’s gone in from behind and taken the player out – it’s hard to contest in that context.

But it’s this “letter of the law” nonsense that is to blame for the ridiculous amount of red cards we see in football nowadays. We’ve already had our fair share of dodgy sendings off this season that have cost us valuable points, and whilst the “swings and roundabouts” argument has turned out to have some truth to it, it’s never easy to swallow at the time.

A referees job is difficult because we rely on them to use their own discretion; to put individual incidents into context and take appropriate action. The context of Lee Tomlin’s red card was that Andy Keogh had the ball at his feet, Tomlin clearly goes for the ball (not the player) and Keogh turns at the same time to shield the ball.

Already committed, Tomlin can’t pull out of the challenge which has now become a foul because Andy Keogh has turned away at the same time meaning instead of taking the ball he was aiming for, Tomlin has now clattered into Keogh.

There’s no denying it turns out to be a bad challenge, but there was no malice in it whatsoever and Tomlin has clearly gone for the ball only to be caught out by Keogh’s turn. Yellow card, sure. Red, not for me – are we really supposed to hand them out for an accident?

The strange thing is, neither manager had any problem with the decision. Darren Ferguson admits it was a sending off whilst Simon Grayson agrees but also points out there is no malice;

“I’ve seen it, the lad jumped in and if it had have been one of my players I would have thought it was a red card. I’m sure he’s not a malicious but he left himself open to it. I think it was the right decision.

My main problem with red cards is that they ruin games (plus Leeds are always crap against ten men). Football is a contact sport that those above seem hell-bent on removing the contact from. Red cards should be reserved for acts of violence, not for poorly timed tackles, human error and bad luck. That’s why we have a yellow card, to warn players that they need to be a little more careful.

Oh dear… 

I’m wary that this post has run a little long, so will end with the red card appeal Peterborough had on Darren O’Dea and the freekick Leeds were awarded leading up to the winner.

The decision only to book Darren O’Dea was the right call. It’s a poorly-timed challenge, but like Lee Tomlin, there was no malice involved. The problem the referee has at this point however is that he’s sent Lee Tomlin off for a challenge no worse than O’Dea’s, and whilst fans can accept referees interpret the rules of the game slightly differently and that some are stricter than others, we expect each referee to be consistent in their own style.

Tomlin shouldn’t have walked in my opinion, but because he did, there’s a fair argument that O’Dea should have too. The referee in charge yesterday was poor all day, for both teams, and he was poor because he lacked any kind of consistency. What was a foul one minute was ignored the next, O’Dea stayed on whilst Tomlin walked and we had periods of the game where he blew the whistle constantly and others where he seemed to disappear. The freekick leading up to the winning goal was one of many questionable decisions.

And that’s the crux of the matter really, that the referee was so inconsistent Peterborough’s complaints are justified. Darren Ferguson could have looked a little more angry and a little less like he was fighting back the tears and the chairman – like our own – should stick to off-the-field matters, but it’s not hard to understand their complaints… well, aside from the “four minutes is four minutes” part anyway.

21 Responses

  1. John Whelan


    I’d like to add my view on Tomlins sending off. I thought it was a culmination of a number of things.

    Firstly Boyd gets told to get off the park for having blood on his socks, this all got the Peterborough players wound up. Then from what I saw, to stop the ref letting the game continue while he was off changing his socks Tomlin fell over with an injury to his knee but was quickly told to get on his bike as he was up and fit soon enough. Then another player tried to waste a bit more time with some kind of shorts malfunction.

    The game commenced and while the ref didn’t see or hear the Peterborough players or fans shouting to let Boyd back on the park Tomlin decided to take matters into his own hands and get the game stopped and saw his opportunity when Keogh recieved the ball.

    So maybe the ref was just playing on because he knew Peterborough were playing silly bugger and sent the guy off because of this and the fact that the challenge could have potentially injured Keogh seriously.

    Maybe it was a piece of reasonable refereeing in a game where all the match officials had a poor game but they were generally consistantly poor and neither team got any preferential treatment despite Fergie Jnrs comments, in my opinion


    • TSS

      Hi John,

      I know they were faffing about beforehand, but I genuinely think he was trying to win the ball regardless of that.

      After watching the replay last night on the FL Show it still looks as though it’s Keogh’s turn that caught him out and there was no actual malice involved. Even if the challenge itself was a little harder than it perhaps could have been, I still don’t think it warranted game changing red card, surely a booking serves as appropriate warning in these situations? (like O’Dea)

  2. number1inyorkshire

    wouldn’t fancy being at a fergie family meal tonight i bet Mrs fergie has sent em to maccy d.s ..
    junior will be saying all this extra time is your fault daddy ,daddy will be saying shut up at least you only conceded 3 and your miles away from leeds..

    that was straight from the lufc book of defending

  3. Matthew

    Quite a lot of games go beyond the notice of extra time, for example some games with 4 minutes extra time can go on to 95 minutes in total for the whole game, or even more, its not unusual in football for a game to end dead on what was announced.

    This isn’t a case of the ref being biast towards Leeds, if anything the *Posh* switched off and we took the win, you dont switch off against Leeds, you lose games when you switch off against Leeds. They did that mistake, we won. End of.

    Anyway lmfao 6 – 1, and 3 of the City goals were in extra time too.. in before Alex goes OMFG too much time was given :P

  4. PeterV

    The inconsistencies go further than referees.

    White was clearly bundled into against Ipswich, stumbled as a result,and knocked the Ipswich player over as a result. His sending off arguably cost Leeds the game.His appeal failed.

    Rodwell however, appealing against his sending off was successful. How on earth to the nameless bureaucrats at the FA work?

    • TSS

      That’s a mystery way beyond my Sherlocking skills I’m afraid. I’m still trying to get my head around their aversion to technology which would help referees.

  5. oldschoolbaby

    People treat you as you teach them to treat you.

    Football matches have be refereed by human beings. Human beings are fallible. There is a 360 degree perspective on any event on a football pitch. The ref has one degree of perspective. In actual fact it is remarkable they get so many decisions right.

    By tolerating second guessing and pretty mindless criticism of referees, and reacting to it, ( not to mention their abuse by players on the pitch ) the football authorities have engineered the pathetic situation whereby post match comment is now dominated by claim and counter claim about match officiation.

    What happens on TV filters down to local leagues with tedious predictability

    The football authorities need to man up, admit they`ve fucked it up and nob off to Twickenham for the day where they`ll find most of the solutions they need

    Then perhaps we can revive the, not that novel, idea of talking about a football match after a football match

  6. paulc

    Great comments oldschoolbaby , Football insiders, pundits et al with the collusion of TV companies seem hell bent on challenging the authority and reputations of referees to such a point that I cannot understand any referee at any level bothering.

    The FA should be ashamed of themselves, they could have stopped this unrelenting criticism of referees years ago. The moment the likes of Ferguson Snr lambasted a referee he should have been punished severely, I fear now it is too late.

    The vast majority of referees do their best, sometimes they are fooled by cheating players and their blinkered managers , sometimes they make mistakes but there can be no justification for the behaviour of some managers and players that follow ,ably assisted by the media.

    As an example I have just watched two premiership managers discussing the performance of the referee at QPR – Chelsea today. One praised the referee to the hilt , the opposing manager claiming the referee got nothing right all day. One of those managers must be a LIAR.

    • oldschoolbaby

      This is the, brutally savage, irony here. Without having the wit to realise it two human beings spouting totally contradictory oipinions on what happened on a football pich are actually offering supporting evidence to the original, entirely counter, argument that refs will make mistakes so there`s no real alternative to taking it on the chin and getting on with it stoically

  7. Colin

    TSS – I reviewed the LUTV footage and it’s an easy red card for me.

    I slowed it down on media player and if you pause it at the right point, that’s your proof of a red card. It looks pretty ugly.

    From the slow motion, this is what happens:

    Keogh isn’t going anywhere, he’s not running, just standing. The referee is looking directly at Keogh and gets a perfect view of the challenge. The Peterborough player uses his right foot to launch himself into the air and he slides along the ground on his side. Even when sliding he keeps his left foot in the air. He was going for the man, not the ball.

    He got a red card for a number of reasons –

    – He could have easily pulled out of the challenge, he purposefully kept his left foot in the air when it was easier to put it down.

    – It was studs up.

    – It was easier to challenge Keogh by continuing to run and putting the challenge in than the slide challenge.

    – He was nowhere near the ball either before or after Keogh twisted. The player had his eye on Keogh’s leg.

    I think the ref could have sent him off for a number of reasons. One thing the slow-mo did show was that there was intent. And that’s enough IMHO.

  8. Irving08

    Why is malice the criterion of a sending off ? If it is a dangerous tackle isn’t that enough ? I am sure the Welsh rugby player who did a dangerous tackle in the World Cup cup didn’t intend harm, but the consensus of opinion seemed to be that he deserved serious punishment – either sending off or missing the next game. I don’t see why football should be any different.

  9. Ron

    I don’t know the answer for the referees, but perhaps using video technology for dubious red cards and penalties is surely the answer. When Man City are paying £240k per week to Carlos Tevez, surely the game has the money to equip all stadiums with the latest equipment. In defence of the referees, perhaps we must excuse them for being human when you consider they are being paid peanuts compared to the rest of the people on the pitch.

    As alluded to in this blog however, I feel the media would be up in arms if the drama and conjecture spilling out of every weekend were reduced by video technology and certainty.

  10. Paul

    No argument with the sending off, but to support the ref at this game is hard made some awful decisions for both sides, and O’Dea should not have been on the field just as bad tackle
    Leeds looked a poor side again today midtable at best as for Posh they looked to have learned from their last time in this league midtable for them too
    Most key decisions went against Posh and the ref got most of them wrong

  11. Mike Lord

    at the end of the day these things balance out across the course of a season. Besides that Darren Fergyscum has had it coming for a few years given his verbage about Leeds every time we play Posh.

  12. Paul

    Typical statement from an uneducated Leeds fan no wonder us Leeds fans are despised the world over

  13. Craig

    Looking at the BBC highlights several times I really don’t see the two tackles as similar in any way. O’Dea played the ball and didn’t tackle from behind. Keogh was flattened for reasons you describe. I’m not surprised Tomlin went off although I take your point about it being a genuine mistake. If O’Dea had gone it would have been a total joke.

    All three of our goals were absolute peaches though – O’Deas especially imo.

  14. Clive Sanderson

    Just a small comment on the Fergie time debate. Why would it be such a terrible thing if we had a time keeper who stopped the clock every time the game was stopped just like in other sports (Basketball)? Take the time keeping away from the ref. Have a digital clock that gets stopped every time play stops and starts when the game commences. Is this too much like common sense?

  15. Matt

    Peterborough also had 96 minutes to do something about the result. Makes me laugh when people moan about extra time…

  16. Mark Billings

    I agree with your point about fines. I think when a manager is asked to comment on the game he should be allowed to comment on the referee. However I also think that the referee should be allowed to explain himself before the manager goes off on one. I think the system of referees not allowed to speak for 30 minutes (is it 30?) after the game needs to be scrapped because I think it is obvious to everyone except DF that the 4 minutes is a minimum and the referee would have told him this.


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