For all that happiness for my country and my friend Stevie, there was a tinge of frustration again when I considered the Scotland Under-21 match. It was amazing to see Billy Gilmour back on a football field and looking fit and well. It was amazing to see him come on as sub for a whole nine minutes before he was sent off again. If you get a chance to see it, you will be stunned by how daft the referee’s decision is.
Billy, just back from injury and desperate to get involved again, makes a challenge which probably isn’t even a foul. The referee whistles and in frustration there may have been a swear word emitted, but in frustration, not aimed at the official directly. Cue a straight red card. If that happens in Under-11s football I kind of get it, but in a top-level game, with the stresses and strains and pressure of the occasion, really referee? Add on top of that the young man coming back from an injury and playing for his national team. I mean honestly ref, have a bit of a look in the mirror and see if you are proud of yourself.
This might sound like the rantings of a pro-Chelsea, pro-Scotland, pro-Billy Gilmour fan boy, but it isn’t. I think there is a huge danger that referees are missing serious problems while harshly penalising tiny technical issues.
Take for example the sending off in the Chelsea game against Rennes. Now Dalbert is not one of our players and playing against 10 men was undoubtedly a great help to us on the night, but I was furious with those daft decisions. Twice the defender gave away penalties but neither was a deliberate action. I am not even sure the second one should have been a penalty and as for the first, he tried to get out of the way of the tackle. But the referee saw fit to give a yellow card on both occasions.