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 

weekend instead. In the absence of this call we cycled to the market, walked around, bought some fruit and veg, then had an ice cream.

"I feel like there's something not right about today," I said. "That I should be somewhere else." Mrs RT gave me that look generally reserved for the hopelessly and incurably afflicted. I assured her that I really was enjoying my afternoon with her at the market, only that it felt a little odd. Almost like I was being punished for wanting to ref so badly.

Later we went to watch the city's pros fail to win again, and after that we met some friends in a restaurant. I'd just picked up the menu, it was 9pm, and my phone vibrated. Caller ID showed it was one of my game assignors. Ha! I rushed outside to answer. Where and when do you want me? Tomorrow afternoon, one o, clock, Reserve League. Of course I resisted the temptation to triumphantly yell down the phone, "So you needed me after all, eh? EH? FUCKIN' EH?"

"Happy now?" asked Mrs RT. Not as happy as I was 16 hours later, stamping my damned authority on the game with three cards in the game's first half hour - two for reckless fouls, one for dissent. That set the tone nicely and both teams settled down. I possibly screwed up a late offside call, but by then the outcome was far beyond doubt and the protests barely registered.

There were handshakes from both teams, despite the lopsided score-line. I did my job and the weekend felt complete. It may be only for 90 minutes, but sometimes it feels like I need those amateur teams as much as I suppose that they need me.

Final score: 6-0 (3 x yellow)


  1. Maybe Mrs RT ought to dissent, commit reckless fouls and play offside during your walks around the fruit and veg market...

  2. Heh heh. There's always plenty of dissent, but sadly I'm not authorized to show any cards. "Shall we get some of those nice seedless black grapes, dear?" "No, I want apricots and yellow plums." She did come and watch me ref once last year, and is still dining out on the story of how much she enjoyed watching me be abused by several dozen players, coaches and spectators for a full 90 minutes on a sunny afternoon. Afterwards, we blew my earnings on a pint of beer and a sausage.