COLLECTING the middle child from school has been interesting. One experience this week felt like it had been sent by the refereeing gods as a sign, a burning bush, a great flood, to my antediluvian eyes. I have a certain appreciation for Don Robertson and his disciples in the VAR control room at Clydesdale House following Sunday’s first Old Firm clash of the sparkly new Premiership season.

Glasgow Times: Referee Don Robertson talks to Gustaf LagerbielkeReferee Don Robertson talks to Gustaf Lagerbielke (Image: SNS)

You’d think you would have it worked out after a few years with the eldest, but actually it’s a hundred times worse. Not only has your complacency level meandered to that of one of those hard guys still guarding statues in their local park whose “days since last event” calendar only displays the horizontal-eight-shaped sign for infinity, but said child also thinks they’ve caught up with all the road safety, hand-holding, bag-dumping, pigeon-chasing, car-door-scratching-with-handlebars training that took the eldest several years to perfect.

Only yesterday afternoon, with the sunscreen dripping down my sweaty brow into the stinging embrace of my eyes, I could still make out her faint figure at the top of the hill we were supposed to be halfway down, glasses gleaming, hands primed on handlebars, foot on scooter, other foot raised off the ground, coming down, quickly, connecting with the pavement and then hurtling forwards like Cyriel Dessers at the sight of a Swedish centre-back taking his 15th touch to control the ball completely unchallenged in the middle of the pitch.

Glasgow Times: Cyriel Dessers challenges Gustaf LagerbielkeCyriel Dessers challenges Gustaf Lagerbielke (Image: SNS)

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So what happened next put my head in a spin which followed the trajectory of that infinity sign on the statue guard’s calamity calendar. As her speed picked up and I surveyed the surrounding area for hazards, to my horror I realised she was careering inexorably towards one schoolmate who was inadvertently flicking through a fistful of trading cards oblivious to the burning rubber that was about to meet him like a supermassive black hole, whose event horizon is a threshold nothing, not even the stars, can escape: space-time stretching like spaghetti all over the place, matter becomes meaningless and is swallowed up by the singularity at this centre. I understood all of this in this moment. Feet were flying, fists were flying, smocks, shorts, T-shirts, cardigans, trainers, plimsoles, and those Pokemon trading cards, Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charizard, fluttering to the ground like confetti. In my terror I ran to the scene, sidestepping the stricken boy to tend to this apple of my eye as his mother glared at me as if I had crashed into him myself in a Porsche 911.

For a moment, I thought she was going to dial 999, such was the fervour of her gaze as I hopped over pools of blood and snot on the concrete. Then, convinced as I am that my little angel could do no harm to anyone, I wondered what PC Plod would say if they turned up to this ghastly scene. Thus it was when referee Robertson heard that familiar chirping in his earpiece after Kemar Roofe had fired the ball past Joe Hart at Ibrox following a coming-together between Celtic defender Gustaf Lagerbielke and Dessers, with the Dutchman finding Roofe inside the area to put Rangers ahead in the first half. Or so they thought. Of course blue-eyed boy Dessers had done nothing wrong in the eyes of the Rangers faithful, just as for Celtic da's Lagerbielke had been deprived of his chance to find the meaning of life in that vortex he was exploring.

Glasgow Times: Lagerbielke is fouled by DessersLagerbielke is fouled by Dessers (Image: Screenshot)

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Watching the replay of the moment Dessers took the ball in slow motion, it was clear that his foot made contact with the Swede who was still, even if he appeared to have passed the event horizon and was in the process of spaghettification himself, in possession of the football. Foul then? Yes, it was. And in the circumstances, Robertson had no choice by the time he had been called over for a look at the pitchside monitor.

But here’s the problem with this administration of VAR. Who was at fault? Sure, it seems obvious – just as my daughter was the one breaking the 20’s plenty oath within the village – Dessers catches Lagerbielke, but what was he doing when this collision erupted? He appeared to have entered some kind of vortex, taking touch after touch after touch, turning this way and that completely unchallenged like he was making that infinity figure-of-eight on the pitch. He might as well have been assessing who would win a fight between a little yellow lightning-shooting marsupial and a dragon. If I was playing in a Sunday league match and my centre-half did that, I’d (in my head at least) be screaming at him. And I’m sure there were a few in the Celtic line-up and technical area preparing their half-time barracking of Lagerbielke when they saw him squander possession to Dessers in that manner.

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For VAR to intervene here, however, was like PC Plod calling for the CCTV footage from the village shop to assess the crash between blood-snot face and my little darling. Of course, on my side I’d say she was just scooting her merry way and he was too busy dawdling about to see her coming, and Mrs Porsche 911 would point to the actual video evidence of her crashing into him then scooting off like nothing happened. And both would be right.

But in the real world the police would never be called to such an incident, the CCTV camera on the village shop is almost certainly an empty Corn Flakes box painted white with a red dot stuck on it, the children go on barely remembering anything ever happened, and the grown-ups pretend like nothing did. Football used to be like that, but VAR is sucking the everyday out of it. Was it a foul? Yes. Did VAR get it right? Yes. But should it ever have been looked at in the first place? Give me a break. I’ve got another 442 school runs to go this year alone.