Sometimes, speedway can astound even me.
I thought I’d seen and heard everything, yet last week I heard a horrifying tale which after investigation has turned out to be absolutely true.
Every sport, every aspect of competition and even life itself needs adjudication.
Courts require judges to ensure citizens obey the laws of the land.
Television talent concerts have a panel of celebrities deciding which (if any) of the hopefuls paraded weekly in front of them has any talent.
And every sport has to have umpires, judges and referees to keep the contests going.
Sometimes – many times – we may not agree with their decisions, but they are there, they’re in charge and they have to make a decision, move on and keep the soccer match, chess competition, game of cricket or indeed speedway meeting going.
It is written in virtually every rule book. covering every pastime that the decision of the referee is final.
In speedway, Rule 14.9 states "the Referee exercises supreme control of a Meeting". Pretty clear.
So what has dropped my jaw to the floorboards is hearing a referee at a speedway meeting this year, in 2018, made a decision, politely listened to the team manager of the club who felt aggrieved before saying sorry, but his decision would stand (and even privately re-checked his rule-book to confirm he was right -- which he was).
He informed the team manager -- and then the club’s promoter who had got in on the act -- that they had the option of lodging an appeal (and an appeal fee) after the match, but his decision on the night was final.
Yet the matter wasn’t left there.
Shortly afterwards, with the meeting still progressing, the referee realised his mobile phone was buzzing. He looked at it and was surprised to see it was indicating the caller was a senior official of our sport.
As the match was in progress, he did not take the call.
Next, the promoter – not the team manager -- of the unhappy club which felt the ref had done them wrong contacted him again.
“Did (name of high official redacted) ring you?” the angry promoter asked the ref. “We called him and told him you’d made a mistake, and he is going to phone you and invite you to change the decision”.
Which beggars the questions:
1) What part of ‘the decision of the referee is final’ don’t these people understand?
2) What kind of person goes greeting to a higher authority when they don’t get their way?
and 3) What kind of senior official thinks they have the authority to ring a referee who is in the midst of running a meeting many miles away to try to tell him he might want to change a decision?
Of these questions, I rather think it is the third one which is the hardest to answer.
Even a few years ago, the above scenario would not have happened. Not a chance.
The past two or three seasons have seen some very curious happenings, strange big decisions and unfortunate appointments in our sport.
They may have seemed to be good ideas at the time, but…….
Want to disagree with Dick (as so many do?). He is always happy to hear from interesting people at firstname.lastname@example.org