The man in the middle


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A few months ago a work colleague of mine asked me if I would referee her son’s U15 football team one sunday. Now being a PE teacher and having refereed at least a hundred school games I thought it would be fine, and it was.

Since then I have looked into getting an ‘official’ referee qualification, the cost £100! This I couldn’t believe. Take in to account I have my UEFA B coaching badge and had to do a referee’s test to pass that, you would think common sense would prevail and I would be ok! As with everything associated with the FA this is not allowed. Why include it in the UEFA B badge then I ask? I’m sticking to my principles here and refuse to pay £100 and am refereeing as an ‘unregistered’ ref! In the first game I mentioned above both managers asked for my mobile number to do other games and said ” You are the best referee we have had all season”. This of course delighted me and has spurred me on to do more games.

I have bought the full outfit and the cards, whistle etc and did my second game today for the team I mentioned above. It was an U15 cup match with the top team in the league against fifth place, a tasty affair on paper. It finished 3-2 in favour of the top placed team, but only just as the losing team rattled the bar deep into injury time.

This is all well and good I hear you say, so why tell us? Well I thought it best to comment on the ‘nugget’ of an assistant manager the winning team had. Spending all eighty minutes screaming and shouting at these 14 year olds was not enough for him! After the equaliser (2-2) I was attending to one of his players who had hurt his ankle. He came over to help, or so I thought, then decided on the pitch to have a go at me because I gave his team an advantage at the other end of the pitch that wasn’t an advantage and that led to the equaliser. Flabbergasted I was to say the least, and offered that it was the other end of the pitch and a further ten passes had been made before the goal. I didn’t highlight that the poor kid with the injured foot had had ample time to clear the ball but ‘dilly-daddled’ on it and let the opposition striker tackle him and score for fear that the poor kid may get lambasted to an inch of his life!

After telling him that it was not my fault as he walked off with the injured player his response was “that’s rubbish ref, and what a rubbish decision”! These type of football think they know it-alls really get my back up so I offered him my whistle and said ” If you think you can do better, here’s my whistle”. He carried on walking off shouting “I bloody could do too”. So I called his bluff and went over with the whistle. Of course he stammered his way through numerous excuses like his knee has been bad for years, and I have asthma. So my final response was ” That’s fine, but if you’ve nothing productive to say other than to complain at me and shout at your players, maybe you should do us all a favour and go home!”.

The look on his face was worth my refereeing fee in its self! He didn’t say much more the remainder of the game and came over and shook my hand at the end of the game, fair play to him. My point though is the effect on his players, petrified to make a mistake, and copying his approach by questioning every decision made. These people, whilst I take my hat off to them for giving up their time, surely have such a negative impact on our young footballers around the country. I bet if you’re reading this and know football, you can picture someone similar (or maybe its you!). Who do I point the finger at? The FA for allowing the professional footballers to be so disrespectful to referees in plain view of all watching, particularly the easily influenced youth of today. How to prevent it, no idea, maybe to come down harder on the professionals who show disrespect, or have a go back like I did today.

Finally, as a comparative, how many times do rugby players disrespect their refs, both at professional and amateur level?

Please comment and let me know your feelings on this!

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One thought on “The man in the middle

  1. I have been a PE teacher for the past eleven years in Burnley and have always watched, played and loved football, but this attitude shown by the manager is not just isolated to Sunday leagues and junior football managers.

    More and more “new to the profession” PE teachers are showing the same amount of disregard for referees/ officials during school matches.

    The poor example it sets to youngsters is the same as other professional role models eg Rooney/ Suarez etc…

    If headteachers could watch more school games and see how they behaved things might be different !!

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