It was 1.25pm and I was on target to get to the ground for 1.30pm, an hour before kick off, as usual. The phone rang in the car. It was the away team manager, saying, "where are you ref, we're ready to kick off as it's a 1.30 kick off.." My heart sank.
Later checks would reveal that I'm not losing my marbles, that the official league fixture announcement had my game as a 2.30 kick off, "unless otherwise stated."
And no-one from the home team had stated anything at all in the days before the game. Normally, the home team contacts the officials, either by phone or email, with all the details of kick off, venue, etc.
This team is down in the league manual as having two home venues, so I had absolutely no idea where to go. So on Friday I took the unusual step of calling the manager. Not answering his phone. Eventually I got a call confirming the fixture, but no change in start time.
So I arrive, rush to change, get out on to the pitch and get a team sheet from the away team. No team sheet for the home team. God. I really shouldn't play this game. No team sheet, no idea if the players are who they say they are. But my soft side prevails and I let the game go ahead.
The game itself was fine, my first league middle of the season after missing the first 2 weeks because of holiday. An Under-21 fixture, both sets of players were jam packed full of testosterone and so needed quite a firm grip. I made my views known clearly about bad language by booking a player in the third minute for swearing at me.
5-2 to the away team, a well-drilled and older outfit than the home team.