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Simply Red: Harrow Borough’s curious refereeing problem

PUBLISHED: 10:49 13 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:50 13 January 2014

Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson

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A cracking 1-1 draw at Earlsmead on Saturday saw both Harrow and Lowestoft fans convinced that their respective sides should have had penalties.

Nonetheless, there was also agreement all-round that the young referee, Ben Cobb, had handled the game excellently – and in doing so supporters of both clubs were quick to point out that this season they haven’t always been so pleased with the performance of the officials who have been put in charge of their games.

However, probably not so happy was the Boro’ treasurer. Delighted though he will have been that the Earlsmead surface had drained well and that the club had played their first home game since Boxing Day, he won’t have been so pleased to find that Mr Cobb had come from Poole in Dorset, a round trip in excess of 250 miles with a consequent expenses claim that took a decent chunk out of the match-day income.

This has been a very odd aspect of recent Ryman Premier life in north-west London: Borough get a regular supply of referees coming from the south coast, from the west midlands or other far-flung spots.

Conversely, a Harrow game at Bognor will invariably find the officials coming from Portsmouth or similar, while visits to Lowestoft, Leiston or Bury are usually refereed by East Anglian officials.

I would have thought that with London being the UK’s biggest conurbation, it is also likely to have the biggest concentration of qualified referees. So why then don’t the match official appointers at the FA pick a few more from, say, south London and therefore land the club with a smaller expenses bill?

On the field, Harrow reached the halfway point of the league campaign with a points total that, if extrapolated to the end of the season, probably has them safely above the drop line.

However, that’s something of a disappointment given the efforts in the summer to get a new sponsor on board with the consequent boost that had been given to the football budget.

A couple of mistakes have been made in player acquisitions, with neither ‘marquee signing’, first Leroy Griffiths and then Calum Willock, pulling up any trees (though it was interesting to note that, on moving up to Conference South level, Willock immediately bagged a goal for Staines).

The side that is now being put out is probably the best that Dave Anderson has managed to field in his two and a half years in charge, so the Earlsmead faithful will be hoping that spring will see them move up the table.


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