Welcome to this month’s column, I really do hope some folks at least are actually reading and enjoying the subject matter thus far. As not getting any questions or requests coming through I will continue to do my best to keep it diverse and interesting.
So, something that caught my attention is the publicised idea of a young referee of grassroots and amateur football in Manchester to actually stage a strike one day in March. The last time I read something he had literally hundreds of other referees willing to support it and join in. Why would this be happening? Well it’s not as in most cases due to salary issues and the threat of redundancies, but you could say it is regarding working conditions. Those conditions being that this young guy had been the subject of every form of abuse from players and supporters one too many times.
He had not only received the all too normal it seems verbal insults, foul language and so on, but had been punched, spat at and I think he said head butted. For certain he is not the only one around the country every weekend to suffer these indignities and lack of respect. This despite the major efforts of the FA the county FAs and organised leagues to implement the RESPECT programmes.
Having played and coached at all levels and been a stand in Referee many times I have always maintained the utmost respect for the match officials. Yes, I have been in situations where I felt poor decisions have cost my team important points or cup games. I have had fellow coaches throw the odd expletive, but always told them to calm down. I learned very quickly that all the complaints in the world during the game will never change the decision.
The one major factor is we cannot have organised competition without referees, who let’s face it are actually human and have families, mostly people who love the game, but have either given up their playing days or never reached the level of others to play in higher leagues etc. I did actually read an old referees forum once where I was shocked to see that a referee accused my old Charlton women’s team and me of being the worst complainers in the league and he was happy the team had been disbanded in 2007. I would take that to court and can only think it was the one who played 11 minutes’ injury time when we were winning a game 3-2 our opponents who shall remain nameless scored 3-3 and he then immediately blew the whistle, true story I assure you.
I was far to numb to complain on the night and remember just smiling at him when I shook hands, but perhaps my players and assistant made a few comments, it was a title game and I could not blame them. However, he still got paid and still came in the bar had a drink and sandwiches albeit having his own space.
Seriously every referee our much-maligned top level referees and even more so every one that’s out there every weekend Saturdays and Sundays are to not only be respected but treasured, they really are the lifeblood of the game alongside all the well behaved and conscientious volunteer club officials, coaches and helpers.
I have watched a fair few youth games recently on Sunday mornings whilst waiting to see a good friends Veterans team play and my Cousins young son playing in 7 a –side. I am still saddened to see and hear far too many wannabee EPL head coaches screaming at the kids, shouting out technical terms and jargon aimed primarily at their own child but often at others too. So still far too many voices for the kids to understand and at times totally confusing and scaring them. Adults running up and down the side of the pitch, standing two yards on the pitch when they can’t see where the ball is. The one main coach trying to control things, giving their own instruction but being over powered by the rest of the calls. One game I watched a volunteer assistant or linesman as was called, was so focused on his son who I could hear from 30yds away was called Luke. The flag was being pointed in every direction except where it should have been and mostly at Luke telling him to “Drop back, push up, get em offside, tackle him, mark up, tell the others” The list goes on, I think Luke became a Skywalker after the game as his head must have been in the clouds.
I hope not too negative an article. I know there are thousands of good people and for sure good people officiating. But a question for us all maybe how do we really cure the disease of the Wannabee? We often talk about when as kids we played in the street, we had fun we learned to take knocks and self-taught. The only time we heard our parents then was when it was time for dinner. Let Kids Play