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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dreamy Spires

Oh what a joy to referee two teams of students. I cruised down the M2 to Canterbury on Saturday for an Under 21s game between the University of Kent and a footballing academy called Soccer Elite. The students were polite, focused on their game and a pleasure to ref. I felt like a Rugby referee as players asked with extreme courtesy about a decision. No shouting, no swearing. Great facilities at the University and its position high on a hill outside the city gave me a stunning view over the city and cathedral as the sun set after the game.

A note to young refs - Players aren't the enemy, even if they try to be.

I visited a refereeing site recently that was obviously popular with young and inexperienced referees. It was refreshing, especially to an old fogey like myself and I posted a note to them that seemed to get some traction, as my American colleagues like to say.

Just wanted to make one point. It seems that a lot of you young referees posting here are being too modest and insecure about your performances. It's great that you're seeking to improve all the time, but I wish you'd worry less about criticism and abuse from players and benches. Generally, it's true that for the losing team you are useless and yet for the winning team you're either a good ref or at least better than the one the team had when they lost last week. Ignore the criticism; learn the true meaning of "water off a duck's back." Your decision is correct, whatever happens, because you gave it. You're the ref. Let that authority give you the confidence to sell decisions (even when you realise later the decision was wrong!). I'm a humble Level 6. I get criticised all the time. I know I make mistakes. We all do. But it's the mistakes that I remember for a couple of days, not the pathetic abuse from a player who is looking to vent his anger. Finally, remember to smile and be friendly. They're not your enemies, no matter how hard they try to be.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Along comes trouble, just when you don't expect it

The Weald of Kent is a charming place, with million pound houses surrounded by apple and cherry orchards. My Saturday afternoon trip was a delight on a late summer's day, with the fruit trees groaning under the weight of apples, pears and plums begging to be picked. "Fancy a cup of tea Ref?" Always a good sign that you've come across a friendly club.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

So Who's got it in for Mark Clattenburg?

Mark Clattenburg, England's top referee now that Howard Webb has retired, has undoubtedly ruffled a few feathers in the course of a bumpy, if successful career. With Webb's retirement after the World Cup, the Geordie ref is widely seen as the country's senior referee, although Michael Oliver is a younger referee probably more suited to the bosses at PGMOL, the Premier League's referees' organisation run by Mike Riley.
But events of the last couple of days present a clear threat to Clattenburg's status and reveal that there are some senior people in the world of refereeing who do not like Clattenburg and will stop at little to prevent him from stepping into Webb's shoes.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Man Utd-Chelsea grappling brings unspoken controversy to the surface - where do refs stand for corners?

When I'm refereeing, I stand in the position where I have the best view of all the action taking place in the penalty area. That may not sound too controversial, but it is. Take a look at the Laws of the Game on FIFA.com. There's a diagram there telling refs where to stand for a corner. The problem is that it makes life more difficult for an official, not easier.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sorry Henry, but referees really don't want to face a one-sided grilling from ratings hungry broadcasters

Henry Winter is one of the football writers I turn to first after a weekend's football. Knowledgeable and witty, he's a pleasure to read and is also a very nice chap, if the couple of times I've met him are anything to go by. But I'm saddened that he's been persuaded to adopt the view that referees should be paraded post-match, to justify - or "provide clarification" as he so quantly puts it -- their decisions.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sod's law - first time in 12 years I didn't check the nets

As I arrived in Gravesend, the rain started. And it didn't stop until five minutes from the end. The torrential rain upset the usual match routine. The two teams took one look at the rain and retreated to the changing rooms, only venturing out a few minutes before the game. I took shelter in a dug out and  greeted the players as they took the field.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The midfielder who's always in your ear

The summer break must have lulled me into a false sense of security but I've been snapped back to reality and a reminder that most teams have one player, usually a midfielder, who is the dedicated whinger, the player who is always in the referee's ear, telling him his decisions were wrong, that he's favouring the opposition, all said quietly enough to keep him below the threshold of a tellow card for dissent.