Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton has slammed the standard of officiating in Glenavon’s Irish Cup exit at the hands of Crusaders in a four-minute long rant following their 4-0 loss at Mourneview Park.
The Lurgan Blues boss was incensed that, with the score at 1-0, his side were denied two goals by the offside flag, particularly when replays strongly suggested that Matthew Snoddy was onside when he nodded in a cross.
Instead, both goals were ruled out, and that allowed Crusaders to go on and seal their place in the second round thanks to a Paul Heatley double and further goals from Jordan Forsythe and Ben Kennedy.
That left Hamilton to angrily call out referee Tim Marshall and his team for their performance in the knockout tie, claiming that it was down to them that Glenavon were eliminated from the competition.
"I’m disgusted. You can’t legislate for that in football,” fumed the Lurgan Blues chief.
"1-0, okay, they deservedly took the lead, we started slow. But then we get a breakaway just before half-time, it’s a stonewall red card whether it’s a penalty or not. That changes a game in the Irish Cup. They’re down to 10 men, 1-0 is still in the balance.
"I thought when the boys came out in the second half they started really well, scored a goal and the BBC (replays) have proved it, it’s onside. We go 1-1, at that time we’re in the ascendancy and it’s a different game if that goes in.
"Then we go and score another goal and it’s offside. There’s that many rules on offside now that I’m unclear. Singy (Mark Singleton) has taken the shot, it’s hit their defender, it’s skimmed off another defender, then Tuffers (Jonny Tuffey) has made the save and then we’ve put it in the net. I’ll need clarification on that because I genuinely don’t know the rules.
"I know in the Man City game the other week a player was offside and if the player hadn’t touched it he would have been offside, but he did touch it which put him onside, and he went on and scored.
"Then we’ve had a stonewall penalty turned down at 3-0 – everyone in the ground saw it apart from the referee again.
"And the frustrating thing for me is that the linesman that disallowed the goal is the same linesman that disallowed our goal up at Solitude and didn’t give the penalty up at Solitude as well. You start to think there’s an agenda at times with certain people.
"Let me tell you right now, I’m really, really, really, really cross. I’m really, really angry.
"What I asked of my players tonight, we’re already down to bare bones with injuries and suspensions, we have a couple of players playing tonight who aren’t 100 per cent, (Mark) Haughey and Conor (McCloskey) coming back from injury. We’re giving everything, those players are giving everything and their destiny is decided by three men in the middle unfortunately.
"I was watching up in the stand and I always have my phone on me to check the time and I was getting message after message from neutral people, from Irish League people all saying the same thing: that the referee was wrong, the linesman was wrong. All them people that were texting me aren’t Glenavon fans, I know that for sure.
"When those things happen, you haven’t a chance. You try to talk to them but it’s nothing to them. The difference is those guys go out and get paid every week. Win, lose or draw, the decisions they make, they get paid every week. Our boys, contracts are decided on results, my job is decided on results and that’s the problem in football.
"That’s a route into Europe that’s gone now because of people in the middle, not because of our players. It’s probably the only time in my life I’ve gone in after a 4-0 defeat and not given the players a hammering because I can’t. I actually can’t do it, I’d be wrong.
"I’m really angry. I’m really cross, and I’m actually being quite diplomatic in what I say because if I really wanted to say what I really felt it’d be a lot stronger.”
Hamilton revealed that he tried to speak to Marshall at half-time about the red card decision that he felt went against his side but the official insisted that his original decision was correct.
The experienced manager went on to add that he feels like the decisions are stacking up against his team not just in last night’s game but in general, and that it is even putting him off the game he has been involved in for nearly 25 years.
"You talk to (the referee) at half-time, you say you felt the decision was wrong and he says ‘nah, wasn’t enough in it’. They don’t want to say to you ‘I’ll go take a look’, it’s always ‘nah, I’m right’. And that’s where it’s wrong,” added Hamilton.
"I can turn round and say when I’m wrong and I can’t understand why others can’t say when they’re wrong. When I pick the wrong team or the wrong decision or say the wrong thing to a referee, I’ll turn round and admit when I’m wrong. It takes a bigger person sometimes.
"When you speak to them and say you’ve seen the decision, and the BBC have seen the decision, and the people analysing the decision have called the decision, and they still turn round to you and say ‘nah, I’m right’ then that’s when it becomes the wrong.
"Same when you see the decision from the linesman, you go down and say to him and he says ‘nah, 100 per cent offside’. How can you be 100 per cent about anything in life? I can’t be. But he is. But yet he’s got it wrong. So he can’t be 100 per cent.
"It’s so frustrating, honestly. I’m sick to the teeth of it. Sometimes as a manager it puts you off football. As much as I love this football club, and I’ve always been an advocate of this league, but certainly in recent years the decisions that have went against Glenavon Football Club have been abysmal. We’ll put together a video of them and we’ll certainly have plenty more to add to it this season.
"It’ll ruin my weekend, it’ll ruin the players’ weekend but you know what? (The officials) will be alright. They’ll go have a lovely weekend with their families because they’ll have Saturday and Sunday off. Unfortunately for us we won’t be able to do that.”
The one thing that Hamilton said he wouldn’t do was criticise his players, who he claimed did everything he asked them to, but he did want some accountability for the officials moving forward in order to avoid something similar happen in the future.
"I’m not going to criticise my players because they don’t deserve it tonight, and if I did then I’d be lying, which I never do,” he concluded.
"With other people, I think other people should come out and be honest in how they got the decisions and be culpable and take responsibility. A football club like ours is struggling to compete at the moment but it’s down to them that we are out of the Cup.”