Select Group Referee Phil Dowd has certainly had his share of big decisions lately, sending off 5 players in his last 4 matches of the season. (In this referee’s opinion, all of those decisions were spot on).
But an incident in the match between Liverpool and Newcastle United was of particular note.
After Liverpool scored the second of two goals within just a few minutes to overturn a 0-1 deficit, Dowd found himself at the business end of some serious dissent from Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi.
While preparing to kick off after the second goal, Ameobi can be seen shouting and aggressively pointing at Dowd. Such public displays of dissent must be cautioned, and Dowd obliges with a firm display of the yellow card.
But before restarting play – and for reasons that only he will know – Dowd calls Ameobi back for a chat, and is joined by the Newcastle captain.
Perhaps, Ameobi was flirting with a straight red for foul and abusive language and Dowd wanted to make quite certain that both Ameobi and his captain were aware of his precarious position.
In any case, Dowd hardly got a word in before Ameobi said something that made Dowd reach again for his yellow card – resulting in the send off of Ameobi for a second caution.
Perhaps the accomplished lip readers out there can make out what the parties said, but for the purposes of this post, that is beside the point.
Before I get to the point, let me be perfectly clear about one thing: Phil Dowd is an accomplished, professional referee in one of the best leagues in the world. If he felt a need to call Ameobi over for an additional chat, I am certain he had good reason to do so.
This is a good reminder for the rest of us that a quick restart can often be the best salve for a wound. Ameobi accepted his caution and had returned to his position, ready to restart play when Dowd summoned him for a further chat. One wonders if the second caution who have been necessary had Dowd elected to restart play instead of calling Ameobi over again.
For those of us who referee at more typical levels of play, continuing discussion in this manner is very rarely advisable, and for the reasons that played out on our television screens.