Review – The Ref Show

Football fans like nothing more than picking apart the weekend’s action and sharing their views, and modern media presents plenty of opportunities.

But for those who like to analyse the performance of the officials, there are fewer platforms – and that is where You Are The Ref comes along

you are the ref logo

You Are The Ref’s ‘Ref Show’ is a web-based broadcast that provides insights into key decisions from the weekend’s football fixtures, from the lower leagues to the game’s biggest stage.

The show encourages fans, clubs and players to get involved on Twitter with conversations and debates of the refereeing decisions that have occurred over the weekend, several incidents are then chosen for discussion on Monday’s show.

You Are The Ref (YATR) originated as a cartoon strip that first appeared in a newspaper in 1957.

The strip’s original artist, Paul Trevillion, and the Premier League’s Head of Referees Keith Hackett agreed to bring YATR back to life in The Observer and on The Guardian website from 2006 to 2016 before moving online.

Every Monday, the site broadcasts two 10-minute segments, hosted by sports journalist Alan Biggs, who is joined by a panel of former players, referees and other high-profile names from the game.

In the edition I watched, Biggs was joined by outspoken former Premier League referee Mark Halsey and ex-England international David Hirst.

“As the show is so big on fan interaction, I put it to the test by tweeting about a hugely controversial incident from an FA Cup first-round match”

The weekend’s main talking point came at the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal’s goal in their 1-1 draw with Tottenham was the subject of a massive debate across the game – Alexis Sánchez and Shkodran Mustafi had both strayed offside when Mesut Özil curled over the free-kick that led to Kevin Wimmer heading into his own net.

Other topics up for discussion included big-match appointments, a Football League round-up and Rochdale striker Calvin Andrew’s 12-match ban for elbowing.

Controversial incident

As the show is so big on fan interaction, I put it to the test by tweeting about a hugely controversial incident from an FA Cup first round match between Whitehawk and Stourbridge.

The referee blew his whistle for full-time just as Hawks midfielder Javier Favarel volleyed the ball from 30 yards, into the back of the net for what he believed was the winner. The goal was disallowed and the game finished 1-1.

Over to Halsey and Co to discuss – and they did.

Halsey expressed that he felt “sorry for the ref” on this occasion but said common sense should have prevailed.

“Just as he was in flight to hit the ball, the ref below the whistle. Give yourself a bit of thinking time, delay the whistle. Just wait and read the game, anticipate it,” added the former Premier League referee.

Hirst discussed briefly the difficulties of how the match ends, expressing the idea of going down the “rugby route”

“When the ball becomes dead, that’s when you blow the whistle”

It was refreshing and positive to see The Ref Show taking note of my tweet and discussing it. Full credit for acknowledging matters in the lower leagues as many pundits, journalists and fans fail to remember they even exist.

Andrew’s ban raised many eyebrows in the week, to put it briefly in what Hasley described as a “savage attack”. Andrew elbowed opponent Peter Clarke (Oldham) off the ball and was handed a 12-game ban, one of the longest in English football history.

mark halsey

Former Premier League referee and Ref Show regular Mark Halsey

“A savage attack… hats off for the FA taking action” said Halsey who believes the ban should have been longer.

“I can understand the referee not seeing it because the play’s out on the left, he’s got to keep his eye on were the ball is, he’s not going to be looking at the six-yard box. For me, 12 games is not enough from what I saw.”

Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Hirst agreed. “If you look at the Eric Cantona incident, the kung-fu kick, he was banned for 9-10 months [Cantona was banned for nine months from football and ordered to do 120 hours community service as a result of his kick on a Crystal Palace fan who taunted the Frenchman]

“If Calvin Andrew did that (elbow) out in the town on any night it is GBH (grievous bodily harm),” added Hirst

Ref Cam

Another feature of the site well worth mentioning is the ref cam. This is a running text commentary on televised games by former match officials, giving analysis on the referee’s performance and key decisions.

Former officials who have been in charge of the Ref Cam so far this season include Guy Beale, Mark Halsey, Andy Hogg and Dean Mohareb, amongst others. The link to the latest piece of ref cam can be found here.

What does the show lack?

“The show is well worth a watch, especially knowing you can tweet in an incident you may have witnessed and see it analysed by the panel”

The show is good but not perfect, and one of the major features  the You Are The Ref show lacks is video analysis.

The chat on the show is purely studio discussion and other than the use of some fans tweets and a couple of background pictures it’s not massively interactive.

To see in the incidents the panel discuss in pictures would add great value and quite possibly be the last piece in the already well put-together jigsaw, but clearly it’s a broadcast rights.

However, the show, unlike no other, offers fantastic insight on referee’s appointments and performances as well as providing further understanding for fans from an official’s perspective.

It really is a must-watch for anyone involved in the sport and well worth 20 minutes of your Monday evening, especially knowing you can tweet in an incident you may have witnessed over the weekend and see it analysed by the panel.

You can find links to the 7th November show and previous editions from this season here