I didn't blow my whistle until 14 minutes had gone during yesterday's match. I thought at the time that it must be some type of record, and perhaps it boded well, that I might be able to fade into the background and let play flow around me for 90 minutes on a freezing afternoon in Surrey.
Well that theory survived for one of the teams, which enjoyed itself while their opponents gradually lost their discipline and chose to blame me for just about everything that went wrong for them. At least I kept them all on the field but the yellow card made regular appearances.
Dissent is usually water off a duck's back. Ignore it until it reaches the level that's going too far and then show a card. That usually quietens the players down, for a while at least. But yesterday the dissent was unusual. I found myself being berated by a player for giving a throw in, when I was simply agreeing with the assistant's decision. Odd complaints that hinted at organised -- badly organised - dissent.
The bizarre bheaviour reached a climax when the away team, 3-0 down, pulled a goal back. An attacker deftly skipped around two desparate challenged in the penalty area before scoring. An excellent goal.
As the teams headed back to the centre circle, a defender for the team who scored yelled at me; "why haven't you given us a penalty?" I stopped, confused. The scorer, standing next to me, said. "what are you talking about? I scored." "Doesn't matter. It should be a penalty," the defender screamed.
"So let me get this straight," I asked. "You want me to disallow the goal and give you a penalty instead?" He hesitated.
"Shut up," his teammate shouted. "And anyway," I added, sotto voce, "it wasn't even a penalty."
That was the bright spot in an afternoon generally made a lot tougher than it should have been by the bad attitude of the losers.