First of all, I was not there. I have no first-hand idea of whether Lee Swabey is a model referee, a man who leaves each game with head rightly held high, or a disgrace, the worst of a bad bunch allowed to officiate the third tier of English football. Or somewhere in between.

There wasn’t even Barnes and Benno to guide me. Sometimes I cannot locate the link and others direct me to it. Yesterday, that “audio commentary” prompt at did not display itself at its usual top left corner spot, whatever screen or browser I tried. The club site was having its own problems and kept apologising for the shortcomings of its text commentary.

But there is powerful consensus among the SAFC fans contributing to social media, and the more measured North-eastern football writers who tweets and report I see, that Mr Swabey was not up to yesterday’s task.

Broadly, my feeling about bad refs is that they are no more or less bad in their decisions affecting us than they are with our opponents. Mr Swabey may have seemed astonishingly lax in dealing with unacceptable levels of time-wasting when it happened, but 11 minutes of added time suggest he made sure it didn’t aid the offending team. Others point to a lamentable failure to sanction grotesque play-acting and recklessly fierce challenges.

As I say, I was not there.

And while applauding the progress Sunderland have made this season – no small achievement when you reflect on the mess our new owners and manager inherited – I am much more concerned that we so rarely seem able to stamp any sort of authority whatever the opposition.

Those who did attend the game at Wycombe are welcome to fill in the rest of us.

But I will offer the views of two friends who were there, as expressed at Twitter: Ian Todd, the wise and worldly founder of the London and SE branch of SAFCSA, and Martin Emmerson, whose unquestionable Sunderland passion is tempered by the sense of balance his broadcasting career demands.

Just take a look at these comments and tweets …

Ian: I stopwatch games and as well as his other decisions today the ref. played 3 too few minutes in the first half and 2 in the second. Not saying it would have changed things but it played into Wycombe’s hands.

But from Martin Emmerson


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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

16 Responses to “Hopeless ref, ruffian Wycombe opponents maybe. But should Sunderland stop looking for excuses?” Subscribe

  1. Brian March 10, 2019 at 6:40 am #

    So in short
    Yes lets blame the ref
    Absolve ross
    Oh and look where we were a year ago

  2. Salutsunderland March 10, 2019 at 7:01 am #

    No. In short, you have distorted the theme, content and tone of the article.

  3. ken bell March 10, 2019 at 9:51 am #

    Ref was very poor but so were the team. However, great fighting spirit to nick a draw!

  4. Andy March 10, 2019 at 9:51 am #

    We have to get out of this league, the standard of refereeing is abysmal.
    The time-wasting thing borders on criminal, never mind cheating. How these teams get away with it, week after week, is beyond me. Not losing by producing a good defensive display is to be applauded, frustrating by time-wasting sickens everyone, who wants to pay money to watch that.

  5. KenG March 10, 2019 at 9:52 am #

    Perhaps Brian and Mr Swabey the ref are one and the same, people who seem intent on making the wrong judgments.. We were poor and didn’t deserve a point for our performance BUT Wycombe’s approach to the game was despicable and as anti-football as you like. Unfortunately the ref allowed things to persist to a point where he lost control and players began to take even more advantage. I think Gareth Ainsworth should be ashamed at adopting such crudely obvious tactics even if it was’little Wycombe’ against ‘mighty Sunderland’ and despite not being deserving of a point I was as pleased as I have ever been when that equaliser went in. No Brian we are not blaming the ref just saying that he like Sunderland left a lot to be desired in their performance, but Wycombe were the real culprits and I’m petty enough to hope they are dragged into the relegation mire.

  6. Bill March 10, 2019 at 10:56 am #

    All three
    Poor ref
    Play acting, time-wasting and thuggery from WWFC
    We were very poor

  7. malcolm March 10, 2019 at 10:57 am #

    I commented after the home game that they must put something in the water in that part of the country as Wycombe, like Oxford before them seemed to fall over a lot.

    It appears that going down with a supposed injury to disrupt the opposition’s attacking threat is part of their game plan.

    I wasn’t at the game yesterday so can’t comment directly but at one point Benno was fuming that the ref stopped the game on one of the few occasions we were in full flow because of one of their players was on the ground and it wasn’t a head injury.

    I won’t condone Honeyman but Baldwin had been booked because he came off the bench to retrieve the ball and get the game going but immediately prior to the melee one of the Chairboy’s coaching staff appears (on the highlights) to try and knock the ball away to prevent Matthews taking a quick throw.

    It seems a bit back to front that someone gets a card for trying to keep the game flowing while those who deliberately try to get the game delayed go unpunished.

    By the way Brian is just like one of those annoying kids who is always craving attention and I apologise to him/her if they have autism or some other condition that drives them to make their idiotic comments (he/she is obviously a lot more intelligent than they try to appear) but I suggest we all just refrain from responding as that is clearly what he/she wants.

  8. Neil March 10, 2019 at 11:27 am #

    Time for Brian to be blocked from this site….then again I’m a sycophant…the endless name calling and bile is shaping the narrative far too often

    We are giving him the oxygen of publicity he craves

    He is no Sunderland fan and seems to demonstrate little understanding of football. Doubt he has ever been to a game.

    Time to go before genuine contributors AND Safc fans become disenchanted

  9. wrinkly pete March 10, 2019 at 11:50 am #

    Just spent 20 minutes doing this (if it appears this time) only for the site to freeze!
    The Good The Bad and The Brian at Wycombe.
    The Good: Our fans singing “Sweet Caroline” pre match, video courtesy of Martin Emmerson, scroll down his page to view.
    The Bad: Two Sunderland fans behind me – in their fifties! – squaring up to each other at half time.
    The Brian: Everything that took place on the pitch (I have avoided calling it a game) well documented elsewhere. If I were a Wycombe fan I would be ashamed and do as the brave Blackpool fans did for four years – stay away!

    • malcolm March 10, 2019 at 11:56 am #

      So I’m not the only one finding the site slow, which is even more frustrating when trying to edit. Works better on phone than laptop.

      • salutsunderland March 10, 2019 at 12:13 pm #

        As I write I have accesss to the site only on my phone and navigation seems normal. If I have problems later on a proper screen I will try to raise it with the hosts who charged me a lot of money to stop this kind of thing happening!

        • wrinkly pete March 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm #

          It MIGHT be my machine!

          • malcolm March 10, 2019 at 4:08 pm #

            My phone is OK but both my laptop and tablet which are a lot more convenient when posting, editing and uploading stuff are taking ages to access and navigate the site.

  10. John Mac March 10, 2019 at 11:53 am #

    We can look at the ref, the other team or Brian and conclude we’re not performing as we should.

    We can also look at the form table and conclude we’re doing as well as anyone else. The top three clubs have all won three and drawn two of their last five games. The next four clubs have not perfomed as well as the top three.

    There’s a gap, it’s not closing, and we are on the right side of it.

    yes, we must push that bit harder, but even Luton don’t win every game, and nor do Barnsley. Why should we expect to be different?

    • Bill Taylor March 10, 2019 at 8:24 pm #

      Agreed. We don’t win every game. But we don’t lose many.

  11. vince March 13, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    Would agree,from watching home games we are doing well, but not dominating anyone,apart from the Scunthorpe game.

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