Some years ago a couple of colleagues and I set up and ran a basketball magazine – Shooting Hoops.

One of our photographers was Bruce STIDHAM. He was just starting out in photography and to gain experience, wanted to be at every game and travelled with me quite regularly.

Once he had developed the pictures, (note no digital here), he would give me a copy of the prints to use in the magazine.

This game took place some years ago at Ponds Forge in Sheffield and featured the Sheffield Sharks and the visiting Brighton Bears. So what is this all about.

Well it is about refereeing.

Now I have to admit that I have never been a referee nor have I ever wanted to be one, but I do not understand why they should have to put up with crap all night long when they are just doing their job.

Yes referees make mistakes but I’m afraid we all do.

I remember this incident quite clearly The Sharks were on defence at the end away from the curtain and when the refs called a foul on the Sharks player Wil Johnson, there was uproar from the very vocal and knowledgable Sharks fans.

I was on the mic and although saying nothing to upset the refs I was convinced that they had got this one wrong. It was obvious to everyone except the men in grey that the offensive player (looks like Ian Whyte but not absolutely sure) had come over the back of the Wil ‘The Thrill’ Johnson to get the rebound – an obvious offensive foul. Well so we all thought!

It was not until a couple of days later when Bruce gave me the prints that I saw what was on the photograph.

He had been standing right next to the referee when the call was made and took this picture at exactly the right moment. Wil Johnson in the photo clearly had his right hand grabbing the right wrist of the offensive player – a clear defensive foul, correctly called.

There were probably only two people in the house that night who were perfectly placed to see exactly what was happening. The referee and the photographer.

Everyone of us left the game that night thinking that the refs had got that one wrong.

It is easy to think that we can see it all from the comfortable seats and yes referees do get some calls wrong but remember as I said earlier, we all make mistakes.

So remember next time you are convinced that a referee has made a mistake perhaps before you get on his case you should stop for a moment and ask yourself, did he possibly see something that I had not?


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