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Top Ten - Bad calls

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Following the farcical events at Ashton Gate on Saturday, Chris Burton offers up a selection of other refereeing howlers

There is a saying that goes 'those who can, teach' - you have probably seen the adverts involving kids spinning around in a playground pretending to be a planet while covered head to toe in tin foil and coathangers.

Well, in footballing circles, it appears that philosophy has been slightly tweaked to read 'those who can't play, referee'.

Some supporters will feel that the busy-body in the black, or yellow, green or pink, depending on the mood of the day, has spent his entire life trying to convince himself that he is capable of gracing the grandest stages in world football.

Unfortunately, 10-pints-a-night, 40-fags-a-day and three kids have put paid to his dreams and he is forced to tread a slightly different path to global stardom.

He instead dons a whistle, two cards and a slightly dubious comb-over before finally making it to the summit of his chosen profession.

Once there, though, officialdom can have a strange impact on their personality, with their ego suddenly inflated to sizes greater than those of the pampered professionals they are overseeing.

This inevitability leads to mistakes, with any such misdemeanours refused to be acknowledged despite furious tirades from managers, incessant harassing by players and countless replays of the incident in question by media outlets around the world.

Here pays homage to those occasions when the match officials made a proper mess of things and only served to further tarnish their reputation in the eyes of coaching teams and football followers everywhere.

Rob Shoebridge, Bristol City v Crystal Palace, 2009

The incident which has got the whole goalline technology debate raging again occurred on Saturday as Shoebridge and his assistants somehow managed to rule out a perfectly good effort from Freddie Sears. The youngster turned a difficult opportunity past Robins keeper Dean Gerken and into the bottom corner, before the ball bounced back out off the stanchion. While the Palace players pranced about in celebration, Shoebridge and his cronies put their brains together and decided to award a goal-kick. Genius! Needless to say, with City having gone on to win 1-0, Messrs Neil Warnock and Simon Jordan have subsequently vented their spleen on the incident to any unfortunate souls willing to give them the time of day.

Derek Webb, Coventry v Crystal Palace 1980

Unfortunately for Palace, Saturday was not the first time they have found themselves on the wrong end of a rather dubious decision. Back in 1980, Clive Allen lashed a ferocious free-kick into the top left hand corner of Coventry City's net and awaited the arrival of his jubilant team-mates. After all, the fact that the ball had cannoned back out of the netting does mean that the goal does not stand. Webb, though, in a moment of madness deemed the ball to have not crossed the line and waved play on. Cue much bemusement all round and Allen to label the strike as 'the best goal I never scored'.

Stuart Attwell, Watford v Reading, 2008

It is safe to say that we could generate a Top Ten collection of dodgy decisions featuring the actions of Mr Attwell alone. Chequered would probably be the best, and most polite, way to describe his officiating career to date. We will, however, gloss over his catalogue of head-scratching decisions and focus on the infamous 'phantom goal of Vicarage Road'. During a Championship clash between Watford and Reading, Royals midfielder Stephen Hunt whipped in a corner which rebounded off Hornets ace John Eustace and out for another corner - or so everyone thought. Somehow, despite no player on the pitch claiming a goal for fear of being sectioned, Attwell, upon consulting with his linesman, decided the ball had gone in. A truly remarkable call and one which even Hunt labelled as 'the worst decision I've ever witnessed'.

Matteo Simone Trefeloni, Celtic v AaB Aalborg, 2008

Not the first occasion in which this kind of incident has happened, but a memorable one nonetheless. The game in question is a drab Champions League stalemate at Parkhead, with neither side having been able to force a breakthrough heading into the closing stages. Italian official Trefeloni, perhaps bored of the tedium he was being forced to endure, then decided he would liven things up by brandishing a red card. Nothing suspicious there I here you say. However, the man sent for an early bath was Michael Beauchamp, who had been nowhere near the incident at the heart of the controversy. Michael Jakobsen, the true culprit, kept his mouth closed and played on until the end of the game. Beauchamp later saw his card rescinded, while Trefeloni slunk back into obscurity.

Graham Poll, Australia v Croatia, 2006

Poll, it is fair to say, was never the most popular character in English football. It should therefore come as no surprise to find that his long and distinguished career is best remembered for a high-profile mistake than for any of the correct decisions he gave. During the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Poll oversaw a group clash between Australia and Croatia. He had high hopes of being selected as the man to take charge of the final itself, with England standing little chance of getting there. Those dreams were dashed inside 90 crazy minutes as he proceeded to show three yellow cards to Croatian hard-nut Josip Simunic. Two, the normal requirement, failed to produce red, and the fact the 'Thing from Tring' did finally come to the right decision failed to save his bacon.

Mark Halsey, Tottenham v Chelsea, 2002

Another case of mistaken identity, with Blues striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink the man punished for nothing on this occasion. Despite being considerably smaller and significantly less dreadlocked than team-mate Mario Melchiot, Halsey somehow managed to get the two Chelsea men confused. He flashed red at Hasselbaink for a foul he did not even commit and refused to listen to the protests from those around him. He did later admit to his glaring error, and the ban was transferred to Melchiot, but that was scant consolation to Chelsea, who lost the League Cup clash to Tottenham without the services of their most potent hit-man.

Charles Corver, France v Germany, 1982

Even more reluctant than Poll to dish out a red card - which is some going - Corver stunned the watching world with his short-sightedness at the 1982 World Cup. Most people tuning in to France's meeting with Germany were of the opinion that a wild chest-high challenge from German keeper Harald Schumacher on Patrick Battison as he chased a through-ball was worthy of a prison sentence, never mind a coloured card. Corver, though, was in the minority who viewed the incident as nothing out of the ordinary and duly awarded a goal-kick. Schumacher stayed on the field and would go on to help his side win the semi-final contest on penalties. Justice most definitely not served!

Mark Clattenburg, Manchester United v Tottenham, 2005

To be fair to Clattenburg, he could hardly have been expected to be keeping a close eye on this incident and was seriously let down by his assistants. A Pedro Mendes hopeful punt towards goal from the Old Trafford halfway line appeared to pose little threat to United keeper Roy Carroll. The Northern Ireland international made a meal of his handling, though, and spilled the ball backwards. In desperation he flung himself into his own net and paddled the bobbling effort back into play. Red Devils supporters shook their heads, while Spurs fans celebrated - the ball had, after all, slipped a good three yards over the line. Not so in the eyes of the officials, who appeared to be mainly hanging around sight-seeing rather than trying to do their job properly. The game ended 0-0 and Spurs were denied a memorable night out at the Theatre of Dreams.

Clive Thomas, Brazil v Sweden, 1978

While the names Poll and Attwell have become synonymous with questionable calls, Welsh whistle-blower Thomas falls into the same category. He was causing mass hysteria long before his younger counterparts, with the man from the Rhondda Valley often stealing the headlines for all the wrong reasons. One such occasion occurred on the greatest stage of all - the World Cup finals. During a meeting between Brazil and Sweden, Thomas awarded a late corner to the Samba stars. Normally, any right-thinking official would wait to see how the set-piece played out before calling time on proceedings. Not Thomas. He let the kick be taken, blew with the ball still in flight and started walking from the field before Zico powered what would have been a winning goal into the net. The effort did not stand, the game ended 1-1 and the Brazilians went berserk!

Alan Wiley, Southampton v Leeds, 1999

Now a respected Premier League official, Wiley is likely to have banished his first top flight outing to the back of his mind. A 3-0 victory for Leeds sounds like a comfortable stroll for the Whites, and it was. It could, however, have been different had a perfectly legitimate Mark Hughes strike not been ruled out. Back in the days when the Saints strutted their stuff in the claustrophobic surrounds of The Dell, the goals on the South Coast did not leave a lot of room for a ball to nestle nicely in the netting. That proved to be a problem on this occasion as a trademark effort from Hughes smashed off the advertising hoardings behind the goal and flashed back into play. The incident occurred so quickly no-one was quite sure what had happened. As a result no goal was given, although replays would later show that Hughes was robbed.

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