As regular readers and commenters may know, The Hook barely entertains comments complaining about umpires and their decisions. However, in an effort to aid players and spectators to get a better understanding of the game, The Hook has enlisted the help of one of the world’s great hockey umpires, Ray O’Connor, to answer your queries.
The idea for this feature comes from Skerries man Alan Early and, as a result, he gets the first shot will, hopefully, become a regular on the blog… this time, the murky area of overheads dropping out of the sky:
“We queried a decision on a high ball that was played from our midfield into our forward line our striker clearly called for the ball and was given at least five yards by the Navan defender but the referee blew for a free to Navan as according to the ref the striker must give way to the defender in high ball situation.
“As I am sure you are aware this is incorrect and who ever calls for ball first must be given the space to get ball under control.”
“There are two issues here. First of all, there is no such thing as calling for the ball in the hockey rule book. Next up, “according to the ref the striker must give way to the defender in high ball situation.” This is not the case.
The Umpire must try to get the ball down safely – this is the most important point. This can only be done if there is no competition for the ball.
So the umpire must decide very quickly who is in the dropping area first. That player should be allowed to have the ball and the other team must stay five metres away.
If the case arises that the umpire can’t decide who was there first, the umpire will give the free against the team that put the ball up in the air. The free should be taken from where the dangerous situation would occur – in this case at the dropping point of the ball.