Mystery surrounds ref

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:54 AM ET

He was the ref who sent himself off.

Or so everyone thought after the story about English amateur league ref Andy Wain made headlines all over the world.

But there's more to this tale of ref rage than meets the eye.

Just ask the man charged with investigating the affair.

"He certainly didn't send himself off. He saw fit to abandon a match," complained Nick Titman, secretary of the Peterborough Sunday league.

"The statement he made to the press was that he was ready to have an angry fit.

"But the reason he gave us for the abandonment was the behaviour of a player who had (allegedly) threatened to kill him.''

Whoa!

Wain told the BBC that while refereeing a match between Peterborough North End and a Royal Mail side, he got into an argument with the Peterborough goalie.

There was no mention of death threats, but he admitted throwing down his whistle and confronting the player.

"I heard the 'keeper say, 'It's always the bloody same with you, ref. We never get anything.' It was the last straw, but fortunately I came to my senses," he said.

Wain didn't return calls yesterday, but he told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph this week that he lost his cool because his father-in-law died a week before the game and his wife had been diagnosed with a serious illness.

Peterborough-based referee assessor Bob Bell, who has watched Wain in action several times, said he feels for him.

"He was a competent enough referee," said Bell. "It's easy to say 'no, you shouldn't do that' but you don't know what people take onto the field.''

Titman, however, wasn't particularly sympathetic.

"The referee has been charged with bringing the game into disrepute," he snapped. "We've suspended his registration from our league.''

Wain has said he wants to referee again, but he might not get the chance.

Titman, reached by phone yesterday, said Wain shouldn't have taken charge of the game in the first place given the challenges in his personal life.

He's also angry that he only heard about what happened when the world's media started beating a path to his door.

"I've been in football (soccer) 38 years and I've yet to see something as silly," he said. "My initial reaction was it's too silly to be true. But the fact that he failed to issue a report to us as to what happened - we were just left with our trousers (pants) down.

"If the referee had made a statement to the soccer authorities before going running to the press it wouldn't have mattered.''


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