Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Lighter ref has little impact as season starts

Well I've run the line twice and "middled" three times, as we call the referee, since the start of the season. As soon as the Olympics were over I hit the diet hard and have been pretty sensible since, losing about a stone and a half. I haven't actually weighed myself as the amount to lose is so big, but I feel a lot better already.

While I've noticed I'm a bit nippier around the pitch, it's clearly - according to the players I'm reffing - not impressing them. I've so far shown 10 yellows and two red cards in three games, and I think I've been pretty lenient so far.
The reds were pretty obvious ones. Two players on a hot afternoon near the South Circular decided to grab each other by the throats and not let go.
But the dissent has been noisy and persistent from the start of the season, from the south London suburbs to the east Kent coast.
Self-discipline is almost non-existent. Players get up from hard challenges looking for a fight and the "banter" between players is obscene and designed to goad the opposing player into a fight.  At one of the matches I told the two captains I would include them in keeping discipline. One of the captains turned out to be the worst offender, constantly needling the opposition and swearing like a trooper constantly.
Players and officials are as nice as pie before the match, welcoming to a fault. But that ends as soon as I blow my whistle. The post match approach from a coach, saying "Can I just ask a question?" has become a comedy routine. I know he doesn't want to ask a question. he wants to complain about my hopeless decisions.
The marks each team give me as a referee must be shockingly bad. Fortunately I don't care. I'm not refereeing to keep the players happy. I'm reffing to uphold the laws of the game; it's that simple.
It's a shame they don't realise the criticism is water of a duck's back. I really don't listen that closely, only closely enough to jump on any obscene comments or to regularly card players for dissent.
Fortunately I saw the other side of the coin when I was appointed to run the line in an FA Youth Cup game a couple of weeks ago involving the Under 18s of Ryman League teams VCD and Folkestone. It finished 10-0 to VCD but what a scorcher of a game. Fast, skillful and barely a voice raised in anger. Coaches and subs were impeccably behaved and not a single card was produced as the youngsters concentrated on playing good football rather than proving their manhood. 

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