Angry words from Cross coach result in suspension

John Browne
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Kirby begins serving six-game penance

Mike Kirby

The Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders won Wednesday, moving into first place in Molson Challenge Cup soccer standings, but they did so without head  coach Mike Kirby, who  has been suspended for six games for verbal abuse of a referee.

Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA) men’s vice-president and Challenge Cup commissioner Gord Dunphy told The Telegram Kirby was notified of the suspension and had the opportunity to appeal.

However, Kirby told The Telegram, “I will not be appealing.”

When asked if he believes the suspension was warranted, Kirby said: “No comment.”

The suspension stems from an incident following the Challenge Cup game between longtime rivals Holy Cross and St. Lawrence Labatt Laurentians at Centennial Field Saturday.

According to Dunphy, who chaired the disciplinary committee, the Holy Cross coach was “verbally abusive” to referee Mike Howlett following the game.

There were seven yellow cards handed out, including four to Holy Cross players, in the match which ended in a 3-3 draw.

Dunphy said there was a “major issue” at the end of the game in which the Holy Cross coach used “persistent verbal abuse” towards the official as outlined in Rule 24.

The rule covers “persistent offensive or insulting language and/or abusive gestures directed at a game official.”

The key word is “persistent,” according to Dunphy.

If Kirby had decided to appeal the suspension, the matter would have gone to a different committee for adjudication, noted Dunphy.

Though a significant punishment, it is nowhere near the harshest penalties handed out by the league.

Dunphy said the six-game suspension is “stiff,” but he points out, for example, a player (Laurentians’ Ryan Slaney) received a two-year suspension last season.

“One must realize that the laws of the game which are governed by rules and regulations and are there to protect the officials of the game,” he said.

“The Discipline Policy Manual, which sets out punishment for ejections, is quite stringent when it comes to any form of verbal or physical abuse towards officials,” Dunphy pointed out.

“The NLSA strongly supports these regulations.”

Kirby served the first of his suspension Wednesday night as Holy Cross blanked Feildians Ernst & Young 3-0 at King George V Park in St. John’s.

Forsey scores twice in win

Tyler Forsey continued his torrid scoring pace as Holy Cross took over top spot in the league standings.

The result gives Holy Cross 27 points, one more than the Laurentians, with the Crusaders holding two games in hand.

Forsey opened the scoring at 20 minutes and then added his second at 60 minutes. That gives him a league-leading 15 goals on the season, six more than teammate Steve Delong.

Jon Hawco completed the scoring at 77 minutes. Brandon Noseworthy posted the shutout.

There are two games scheduled Friday.

Holy Cross takes on St. Lawrence in what will be a first-place showdown 6:30 p.m. at King George V Park, while Mount Pearl That Pro Look/Molson meets CB Strikers FC 7:30 at Topsail Field.


Team    GP    W    L    T    Pts

Holy Cross    12    8    1    3    27

St. Lawrence     14    7    2    5    26

Mount Pearl    14    7    5    2    23

Feildians    12    5    3    4    19

* Canada Games    8    3    5    0    9

Strikers FC    14    0    14    0    0

Note: Techniplex Canada Games team playing on an exhibition basis only.

Organizations: Holy Cross Kirby Group Crusaders, Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association, Molson

Geographic location: Laurentians, King George V Park

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Recent comments

  • Mike
    July 06, 2013 - 00:22

    Seriously, and I mean seriously. When will the NLSA and HNL get it through their heads that they ( because we pay them) have a duty to marshal the officiating. It is real easy to criticize players, coaches and fans, but as long as you allow officials to act with impunity, they will! Start watching the officials or wait for the impending law suit. Please remember that your insurance only covers you IF you were not negligent!

    • Shannon
      July 06, 2013 - 15:10

      Mike, are you speaking about this isolated incident or officiating in general? Must be in general as this incident has 100% fault on the coach not the referee. I mean to scream and yell for a minute over a caution issued to a player, that's a bit extreme.

  • Ralph
    July 04, 2013 - 20:57

    I feel the NLSA are doing an extremely good job with regards to the officiating and the manner in how discipline has been handled. It is not an easy job but I think they have strong people who are looking after the provincial Challenge Cup league.Keep it up!!

  • Simon
    July 04, 2013 - 20:19

    Madge, are you for real?? The bearing Ryan Kirby's suspension does have on the story is that it sure sounds like this behaviour is a "Kirby family thing. Grabbing a card from a Referee's hand and throwing it towards him is physical assault to some extent. Which by the way is not exactly the true picture of what happened from the numerous versions out there. In any event, any player touching a Referee in any form of anger should result in a very long suspension and not 3 or 4 playoff games and the winter where there's no competitive ball being played. That suspension was laughable, officials need to be protected from this.

  • hockey stripes
    July 04, 2013 - 15:26

    don't put all of the blame on th refs. It isn't pro soccer or officials. Like the players they go to work during the day and enjoy seeing how far they can take their game. Brad you sound like you would make a terrific soccer official," you have identified areas that need to be addressed", take the training for next season, even better you do the training of all officials

    • Brad
      July 04, 2013 - 17:40

      I find it ironic that you think I should be responsible to fix problems caused by a lack of management. What have you done or do for soccer? Stop taking the easy way out by passing the buck onto someone else or act like there is nothing wrong. My reasons for stating the observations have to do with player safety. The first responsibility of a referee is to protect the players on the field at all times. How do they do it? By enforcing the Laws of the Game. I have played at just as high of a level as Mike has, and I coached U-16. I don't want to see one of my kids get hurt because of negligence that has been occurring on the soccer field, that's why I have no interest in playing or coaching anymore. Soccer is alienating its original fans by becoming a game all about politics and money, and you're starting to see support drop. In fact, I have noticed support drop here in NL...and I wouldn't be shocked if the on field shenanigans had something to do with it. But of course the NLSA wont care...

  • James
    July 04, 2013 - 12:20

    I feel the Gord and the NLSA are doing a great job. Kudos !

  • Brad
    July 04, 2013 - 11:24

    I’m not one for condoning referee violence or abuse, but what is going on the pitch is getting out of hand, and what you are saying Bill is no surprise. The referees and NLSA do nothing about what is going on out on the pitch. Sure, they will book you and chew you out for a clean slide tackle, but they never do nothing when someone slides in studs up and catches the keeper. All they do is shrug their shoulders or play “advantage”. Seriously? I watched a game between Cross and Mt. Pearl and the Cross goalie took a vicious shot. Nothing was done. Next time, Cross goalie makes a save, gets ran over on the follow-through and a fight breaks out. And the referee or Gord is surprised by this? I’m not. Referees (aside from Mike Howlett who is the best in the province IMO), have very poor match management skills and this is why the game is in chaos. Add the NLSA who only cares about their bank account (the last 2 final weekends of fan public drunkenness is indicator enough) and this is what you get. Players and coaches are getting frustrated that the refs are not protecting players and they are widly inconsistent when it comes to applying the Laws of the Game.

  • Whatever
    July 04, 2013 - 11:19

    Whatever happened to "it's only a game". 6 games doesn't seem much for abusing an official. Some people need to grow up.

  • Bill
    July 04, 2013 - 10:01

    Gord, why didn't you mention that Mikes brother was also suspended for a mere 6 months (much of which was served in the off season) for physically assaulting a referee? Which is a much bigger offence than what Slaney was suspended 2 years for. Give your head a check Dunphy.

    • MADGE
      July 04, 2013 - 14:08

      He didn't mention it Bill, probably cause it has no bearing on the story. Also, since you are misinformed, Ryan Kirby did not "physically assault" a referee, but rather pulled the card being issued him from the ref's hand and threw it towards him. The ref and the game report can tell you that. Last time i checked that's not "assault" nor is the card made of brick. 6 months was fair and had Ryan missing the most crucial part of the season which hurts anyone who cares about soccer.

    • Bill
      July 04, 2013 - 15:14

      If that has no bearing on the story Madge, then how does Ryan Slaneys suspension have any bearing on the story?

  • Terry
    July 04, 2013 - 09:09

    I took in a challenge cup game a little while ago in Mount Pearl (vs St. Lawrence). What the officials put up with from players and coaches is crazy... Mostly from the coaching staff. You have to have pretty thick skin to be a Soccer official in NL... But then again its soccer in NL every team has a loud mouth...