BURY Town manager Richard Wilkins has hit out at the Ryman League and its ‘untouchable’ referees after it was revealed the Blues had one of the worst disciplinary records in the league.
Across the Ryman’s three divisions, the Ram Meadow-based outfit have the second worst Respect Campaign record and are 58th out of 65 clubs in the fairplay league after picking up 50 bookings and five red cards.
But Wilkins — who was due to meet the league yesterday after his side were dished out four yellows and two reds in a fiery Boxing Day derby at Lowestoft Town — believes inconsistent officials cracking down on the wrong sort of thing have caused his side to be labelled something they are not.
“It seems you can break someone’s legs politely, but you can’t talk to the referee,” said the Blues’ boss.
One statistic that portrays Wilkins’ statement is Tooting and Mitcham United being among the Ryman Premier’s top three clubs in the Respect Campaign table, yet are officially the dirtiest team in the division with 69 bookings and six sendings off.
The Respect Campaign record is judged on yellow and red cards for dissent, technical area infringements and bench misconduct — the latter of which Bury have been given one, but had no explanation from the league as to when it was or what it was for.
But Wilkins’ main frustration with the Football Association’s (FA) Respect Campaign has come down to referees inconsistently deciding what sort of dissent deserves a yellow card.
“The FA are making a rod for their own backs because referees are becoming almost untouchable,” he said. “We’ve been in games where people have been F-ing and blinding in a referee’s face and nothing happens.
“Then one of our players says ‘that’s our ball’ to him and he gets booked.”
Despite being feeling some injustice at his side’s position in the Respect Campaign table, Wilkins remains committed to addressing any problems and has asked former Football League official Trevor Pollard, who lives in Stanton, to talk to his players from a referee’s viewpoint.
Bury also employ a club code of conduct and fine anyone who is booked for dissent.
“I know for a fact we are not a dirty team at all,” said Wilkins. “We don’t want that sort of stigma attached to us.”
When the Free Press contacted the Ryman League for a comment on Bury’s position in the fairplay table, a spokeswoman refused to comment.
Although the snow caused the postponement of Bury’s matches against East Thurrock and Margate this week, the Blues were still able to train on a number of occasions, including a two-and-a-half-hour session on Saturday.
n Bury are due to host 15th-placed Wingate and Finchley at Ram Meadow in the Ryman Premier tomorrow (3pm).
n The Blues’ Suffolk Premier Cup semi-final against Leiston will take place at Needham Market’s Bloomfields ground on Tuesday, March 6.
n Former Bury Town goalkeeper Nick Pope has signed a new contract with npower League One leaders Charlton Athletic until 2014.