I PLEAD “not guilty” to the crime of judging referees without due care and attention, m’lud, and would like these previous offences to be taken into consideration.

I developed a reputation recently for being a harsh judge of referees.

I deny this and put it to you that the standard of officiating in the National League often left something to be desired.

As evidence of this, I would like to refer to the performance of Mr Sam Allison in Maidstone on August 19, 2017.

He sent Manny Smith off for a foul in the penalty area, even though the rules of football clearly state that he could not be deemed to have committed a professional foul in the penalty area as he was attempting to play the ball. When Mark Carrington pointed out that the referee had not observed the laws of the game, he was also sent off for impertinence.

I would like to stress that not only have I sought to be honest in my criticism, but I have also looked to be even-handed.

As proof of this I offer you the Wrexham versus Ebbsfleet game on November 18, 2017, officiated by Mr Neil Gibbons.

We won 2-1 despite our first goal not even coming close to crossing the line, and our second resulting from a penalty awarded for a foul clearly outside the box.

I sincerely hoped, as did many others, that promotion to the Football League would lead to a rise in the standard of officiating, and broadly speaking I feel that to be the case. However, I make no apologies for drawing attention to the performance of Mr Neil Hair at Accrington on November 18, 2023.

To give a penalty when the ball had already gone off the pitch, against a player who, in my eyes, was pulled to the floor himself, was astonishing.

Perhaps not as astonishing as the failure to punish the clothes-lining of Ben Tozer in the penalty area with a red card as well as a penalty.

Errors of judgement are, to an extent, forgivable, although the frequency with which Mr Hair made dubious decisions which altered the course of the match was a matter of concern.

His overall handling of the game was much less acceptable.

He seemed, like many referees, to enter into the game with the intention of issuing as few yellow cards as possible. As a consequence, he failed to give a number of clear fouls to both sides.

This suited Accrington down to the ground, as they were given free rein to be as physical as they wanted to be without fear of consequence.

For a route one team like them, who sought to launch long balls and then scrap for the second ball, Hair was their perfect referee.

He also failed to clamp down on their blatant time-wasting, issuing no yellows for that offence. One might argue that the punishment was to add an excessive amount of injury time, and admittedly Mr Hair did add an additional 10 minutes. However, in the current climate that felt like an inadequate amount, and he failed to properly punish time-wasting during those 10 minutes.

There was plenty of it, and the astonishingly laboured process of getting Stanley players to comply before the taking of a penalty alone took one minute and 40 seconds.

Yet Mr Hair added just one minute and 18 seconds onto the previously indicated 10.

No blame can be attached to Accrington for this. They saw a referee who was not strong enough to penalise them and took full advantage, as any team would.

And don’t even get me started on the ref in the women’s game at Swansea on Sunday!

Another clothes-lining, a studs-up raking of Lili Jones’ Achilles when the ball was nowhere near playing distance, and Del Morgan being taken out when she’s punching the ball clear should have resulted in two reds and a yellow, not the two yellows which were actually awarded.

And don’t get me started on Carra Jones being pulled back when she’s one-on-one with the keeper so the referee can award us a free kick on the halfway line!

And that penalty that was given against Wales on Tuesday... Actually, m’lud, on reflection, can I plead guilty? I haven’t got a leg to stand on!

Saturday sees Morecambe visit the STōK Cae Ras for the third time.

The sides first met in October 2003 and Wrexham won 4-1 in an LDV Vans Trophy tie.

In fact, we scored all five goals, because Morecambe’s consolation was scored by our centre back Craig Morgan!

Lee Jones helped himself to a hat-trick and could have had more, but having scored one penalty already, he let Hector Sam have the privilege when the referee pointed to the spot for a second time.

The second time we faced Morecambe was their second game in the Football League. The clubs were going in separate directions, but that wasn’t apparent in a clash that went Wrexham’s way thanks to two goals from Michael Proctor (pictured above) in the opening 22 minutes.