Monday, 24 April 2017

Worse than raging dissent - Mr. Calm and Rational

Game 45, 2016-17

Last season I refereed a game where the home team’s captain was a hypnotist. The first few times I gave decisions against his team he walked up to me and commanded, “Look into my eyes, referee. Look into my eyes.” I resisted this invitation on the grounds that if he really was a hypnotist, I might spend the rest of the game ceding to his will every time he said, “Mister Referee, you will now award my team another penalty kick. And the score is already 67-0.”

How to control a referee
who will not see reason
Of course the captain didn’t want to hypnotise me. He wanted to talk. There’s a certain type of player who just loves to talk. Not about the weather, or what you had for dinner last night, or the worrying rise of right-wing populism across the European Union. No, they want to talk about your decisions. These players are not necessarily the moaners and dissenters. Rather they think that, through a calm and rational discussion, they can persuade you that the foul you just awarded against their team was, in fact, not a foul at all.

It’s nice to imagine calling a halt in play while league officials rush on to the field with a table, two chairs, two glasses and a jug of water. The player and I sit down to review my decision at length. First, I give my point of view. The home team’s number 6, due to a combination of slowness, ineptitude and stupidity, had hacked down the opposition’s speedy, nimble winger. My garrulous friend sees it differently. His heavy, hulking, dead-eyed number 6 would never do such a thing. The winger clearly dived.

Unable to agree, and in the absence of video cameras at amateur grounds, we invite other players to

Monday, 3 April 2017

Sad confessions of a needy amateur ref

Game 44, 2016-17

How important is refereeing to me? I found out this weekend, when it looked like I wouldn't have a game. I had no idea what to do with myself.

It's alright when I travel out of town for the weekend. I don't even think about it. But if I'm at home and available on both Saturday and Sunday, then I am almost always assigned at least two games. This weekend I was only assigned on Sunday morning as a mentor to a newly qualified referee on a boys U13 game. Standing on the touchline taking notes - I don't mind doing it, but it's not the real thing.

Yellow fruit instead of yellow cards. 
On Friday I sent an email to the game assignors. Just to let them know I was around, like, and available if anyone called off at short notice. I got a sniffy email back saying there were plenty of refs this weekend, thanks, and that I shouldn't bother them by lobbying for games. Blimey, I was just trying to help. Or do they get a dozen emails like that from needy refs every Friday afternoon?

On Saturday I got up late, had a leisurely breakfast with the family, and then Mrs RT wanted to know what we should do with our afternoon. I admit that I was half waiting for a call to tell me to pack my things, get on my bike, and heroically step in to whistle a game abandoned by some unreliable and impetuous colleague who'd decided to fly to Vegas for the