The 2009-2010 season may have brought disappointment for Rotherham United in a big final, but Rotherham supporter Howard Webb got his own chance on the biggest stage of them all.
Shortly after the news broke that Webb would be refereeing the World Cup final, I read a blog which claimed nothing positive could come of it. I hung my head in despair at reading such a negative angle to the story and thought it typical of the English mentality. It turns out that the blogger was 100% correct.
Fourteen mostly deserved yellow cards were handed out by Webb in the final, and our Howard was met by a tirade of boos and jeers from the Dutch supporters and had to endure the protests from Wesley Sneijder and co. at the final whistle.
Of course all supporters can relate to selective memories of football matches, but the question should be asked if the fans and press have stepped over the line in how officials are treated, especially at the top of the game.
I honestly don't know what Howard and his assistant referees would say, but personally I can't imagine reacting positively to constant abuse at work and I definitely can't imagine it improving my performance.
Given the robust nature of the match, the final could have easily turned into a farce with a less skilled official in charge.
Webb oozes natural authority on the football pitch and he has shown time and time again that he can judge the mood of players when making his decisions.
I think he would have loved to referee a final that mirrored Rotherham United's day out at Wembley – five goals and two teams intent on playing football without the reckless challenges that were seen at the global show-piece.
The official doesn't have a choice about the nature of a particular match though, and he can only make decisions to the best of his ability. This is the way every referee operates, and should always be remembered whenever a decision goes against you.
The only conclusion that I can reach in regard to the flak that Webb has faced since the final is that Sepp Blatter was correct when he said that fans love to debate any incident in a game (that's not an excuse not to introduce goal line technology).
I would go even further in suggesting that people love to criticise where there is little justification to do so. This particular Millers' fan earned his place at the World Cup final, but who would blame him if he didn't want to do it again.
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