So, yesterday I watched Rovers get a goal that wasn't because that horrible scrote El Hadji Diouf deliberately cheated. Fulham get away with a handball and Rovers concede a free kick the players were still whining about as Clint Dempsey rose to equalise. Seen again from several angles on Match of the Day (last again, I notice), the referee is dismissed as an idiot.
Earlier I watched the eldest son in an Under 12s match. The referee was a 15-year old lad, brightly turned out in his new kit. He was being monitored by one of the local veteran refs from these parts and did well. He will have missed a couple of things, he will have had an obscured view of marginal offside decisions - he doesn't have linesmen for these, just a Dad spotting throw ins - but he did well. Blissfully, the morning went without rancour, but in the future it will. He's one of 40 lads coming through the system, of which most will give it up within two years because of abuse from parents and gobby managers and, depressingly, players. Despite the Respect campaign, and the tabloid press seeming to support initiatives like Ray Winstone's excellent video, the problem is endemic.
The reason lies on the Match of the Day sofa and in the manager's interview. It all feeds a terrible sense of entitlement to appeal each decision a referee makes. So, while I saw a fantastic game in the morning, full of all the drama and endeavour which makes football a beautiful game, by the end of the day the ugliness comes crawling through.