Sunday, 18 September 2016

"Your refereeing's a pile of shit today!"

Games 16-18, 2016-17

"No, he's a shit ref!" the coach screams. He's not actually yelling at me this time, he's screaming at one of his own players, who's just offered me his hand after the game and said, "Well reffed." I'd already sent the coach off half an hour earlier for his seemingly addictive hysteria. Even once I'd sent him off, he kept on screaming, "You should go back to England! Go anywhere, as long as it's far away!" (Oh, my friend, you can't imagine where I'd like to be right now.) Now, after the game, he curses at me in a non-stop choleric tirade until I've disappeared into my changing room and shut the door.

The English countryside - where I'd rather
have been this afternoon.
Guess what? His team lost 1-5. It's my fault, obviously. He wasn't the only member of the home camp who was unhappy with my performance. One of his players had a predilection for using his hand to control the ball, which - as many of you will know - is contrary to the Laws of the Game. The first time was right outside his own penalty area, and when I whistled, he yelled, "Why don't you just give a penalty and be done with it?" A highly curious suggestion, but I stuck with the free-kick, which his opponents scored from anyway.

Ten minutes later and he did it again, this time to the left side of the penalty area. He loudly protested the decision once more, so I gave him a yellow card. "I don't give a shit!" he shouted. One minute later I was standing next to him, after having actually just
awarded a free-kick for his team. But he must have been in a hurry to get somewhere, because he said, "Your refereeing's a pile of shit today." I showed him a second yellow, then the red, and he walked off giving me the old hard stare (duly returned) and calling me a bum. And you enjoy the rest of your Sunday too, kind sir!

Meanwhile, up front there's a 44-year-old striker who, like many of us, has seen better days but doesn't want to admit that the only rectangular-shaped box he should be in is a wooden one with handles and a lid. Every time the young centre back beats him to the ball, he moans that he was fouled. Eventually he moans so much that I card him too. If I hadn't felt so sorry for him, I'd have sent him off as well, but in the interests of peace and my own security, I don't. When he misses an easy chance I do, however, consider asking him if that was my fucking fault too, but I cling on to the moral high ground and stay silent. In the end I get to enjoy his sarcastic applause as he serenades me off the athletic track. He's not stupid - he knows I can't red card him once we've left the pitch. It all has to go in my 'special report'.

Because after refereeing three games in less than 24 hours, there's nothing I'd rather do than come home and sit down at the computer to write up all these pointless misdemeanours. Not just all of the above, but the fact that the club officials wouldn't confirm the name of the coach to me, and one even lied that it hadn't been the coach at all, just "some guy" who happened to be spontaneously coaching the team, and whose name he didn't know. Is that right? I tell a whole crowd of people standing by the grill (I don't get offered any food today - not a sausage) that the reason I've had to ref three games in 24 hours is because so many referees just can't be arsed with the hassle any more. We're quitting, and I can completely understand why. I get half shouted down, half laughed off the premises.

A knackered old striker, recently.
"You all have a nice evening now," I say as I cycle away. Final score: 1-5. That was game 18. In Game 17, which had finished half an hour before I started Game 18 - following which I pedalled like a maniac across town to be on time, though I wish I hadn't bothered - I oversaw a 15-0 away victory in a boys U17 game. The only excitement there was the home goalkeeper having a bust-up and a shoving match with one of his defenders after goal number three, which didn't help their losing cause. To be fair, they never gave up.

The previous afternoon, Game 16 was a boys U19 match. I've already forgotten the score. I think there was only one yellow card, it started raining, and at the end both coaches said "Thank you." That's pretty much all I ask for. Even if you really think I've been a shit ref who should piss off back to England.

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