Having the pleasure to watch live sport can be relatively rewarding in itself but spike it with pangs of parochialism and it can become quite intoxicating.

I found that out while covering the Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers v Onehunga Sports Chatham Cup semifinal at the hosts' media clubrooms at Park Island last Sunday.

Two jovial blokes were running the commentary to a livestreaming service for the benefit of the Onehunga faithful although, I'm guessing, the astute Melville United team and followers would have been hooked up to study the Blues' blueprint for the impending cup final in Auckland in a fortnight.

Entertaining they were. Witty and cutting in their analysis, albeit wearing one-eyed patches.

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I even caught myself chuckling and laughing on the odd occasion.

Uruguayan import Martin Bueno, who came on as a substitute in the second half, had come under special scrutiny and justifiably so. It isn't a good look when Onehunga coach Hiroshi Miyazawa walked outside his white boundary lines to ask the Rovers striker to stop grimacing on the ground and not hold the game at ransom.

"If you find an eyeball on the park, please call Martin Bueno because it belongs to him," said one of them after Bueno covered an eye while succumbing to the ground in extra time.

Needless to say, Bueno will be a marked man — if he wasn't already — in the final at QBE Stadium, North Harbour.

As abhorrent as "Hollywood acting" can be in sport — if there's a case — my preoccupation is with the two men's repertoire on referee Antony Riley and his two assistants, Trent Pedley and Gareth Sheehan, running the line.

To openly imply that refereeing decisions are dodgy is where humour abruptly gives way to prudence.

"Oh, there's a free kick. I don't know what that's for," one livestreaming commentator remarked.

Later, another jovially cast aspersions on Pedley's offside call, before passing it off as a "home decision".

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Onehunga Sports player Jordan Vale is in the face of referee Antony Riley flashing a yellow card while Rovers striker Martin Bueno takes stock of his shirt and Sho Goto watches. Photo/Paul Taylor
Onehunga Sports player Jordan Vale is in the face of referee Antony Riley flashing a yellow card while Rovers striker Martin Bueno takes stock of his shirt and Sho Goto watches. Photo/Paul Taylor

For the record, Riley and Pedley hail from Palmerston North while Sheehan is from Napier.

A commentator had asked me if the trio were from the Bay and I had enlightened them although I didn't know, at that time, where Pedley was from.

What I hadn't done was distinguish Pedley from Sheehan so when they had inferred to home-ground decisions they were incorrect because they were directed at Pedley on the far side of the main grandstand.

Ironically, I had pointed out with a grin, after they had tripped on the facts, that Sheehan had raised his flag a few times to nab Rovers players offside in crucial stages of the game in extra time.

I get it. One must not lose sight of entertainment so the commentators were doing a fine job in that respect.

But should that come at the cost of amping up disappointed mobs who can see live footage but would have drawn wrong inferences on home decisions?

All of that takes me to the spate of recent verbal and physical attacks on officials at parks around New Zealand recently, not just in football but other codes as well.

Some of the cases are beyond belief. A fan shoved a volunteer football linesman in a club age-group match. An 11-year-old allegedly tackled and punched a rugby referee in an under-12 rugby match. A spectator pushed and strangled a 15-year-old referee after he sent off a player for a high tackle. The list goes on.

Someone had impressed on me last Sunday that age-group basketball is notorious for that sort of behaviour from players and spectators in the Bay as well.

I had noted in the media reports of the above cases that officials weren't shy to report such matters to the respective sporting authorities who, amid cries for life bans from the public, had no qualms referring the case to the police for further investigation and appropriate charges.

It's hard not to find a correlation between unpoliced slippery social media platforms increasingly providing traction for unmitigated judgements on officials.

It's also difficult not to draw parallels between social competitive engagements and what transpires in the professional arenas.

The much-publicised "ridiculous" unbeaten century from Ben Stokes to spearhead England to a one-wicket victory over Australia blatantly points a finger at how the tourists wouldn't have choked in the second Ashes test had umpire Joel Wilson given out the Kiwi-born allrounder on a leg-before-wicket appeal.

Conveniently parochialism — to boost TV ratings, no doubt among other reasons — comes into play to eclipse poor bowling, batting and fielding blunders as well as VAR reviews from Australia.

Spinner Nathan Lyon cuts a striking pose on part of the picture on why Australia lost the second Ashes test to England at Headingley rather than blaming match officials. Photo/AP
Spinner Nathan Lyon cuts a striking pose on part of the picture on why Australia lost the second Ashes test to England at Headingley rather than blaming match officials. Photo/AP

It doesn't help either when bookmakers cry from the rooftops on "justice for Sportsbet punters after Ashes loss" for Wilson's "howler" to grant a "justice refund" to those who backed Australia.

"Even though the Aussies absolutely bottled it last night, we just can't cop another howler from the umpire. We grieve as a nation this morning but, hopefully, this makes the day a touch more bearable," declared sportsbet.com.au's Rich Hummerston.

The reality is it doesn't take much to fuel the emotion of fans in a match where one party is always going to be disgruntled.

Just as it takes a bigger person to walk away from an altercation, it pays to know good teams never let the result of a match boil down to any particular "howler" from an official.

Sport teaches the great unwashed, as does life, that not everything will go your way. That includes match officials who are prone to errors. The very reason they are there is to minimise the mistakes of players while ensuring the proceedings don't become unruly.

By all means, analyse their flaws but don't treat them like doormats for the inadequacies of others because that's how you end up with young transgressors at parks on Saturday mornings.