Monday, 12 June 2017

2016-17 Review - Football and the Human Condition

Game 55, 2016-17

Most of us are doing
what we can...
It’s the last weekend of the season, and it ends up being another game when my expectations are confounded. These are not only two clubs I’ve had trouble with in the past, but the game is at boys’ U17 level - that age when hormones seem most volatile, and the urge to shove, kick or insult an opponent can override the threat of punishment. Just like last week, I issue a pre-match appeal for calm, sportsmanship and decency, and point out that we’d all like to reach the end of the season unscathed.

There’s a size and talent gap between the home and the away team, but they both play decent football. Lacking any subs, the away team tires in the second half on a hot afternoon. Unlike many teams in their age group, though, they don’t start kicking out in frustration, or to yell at each other’s mistakes. They keep passing the ball along the ground right until the final whistle. The young coach utters not a word in my direction all game.

We get through with just a single yellow card on either side – one for a second clumsy foul (away team), the other for chucking an opponent to the ground (home team). The latter offence happens ten minutes before time, with the home team already 6-1 ahead. “Hey, we’ve had none of that all

Monday, 5 June 2017

'Spin on this!' - When the ref strikes back

Game 54, plus tournament, 2016-17

Should referees ever lose their calm and take the low road? Absolutely not. Not ever. Which doesn't mean to say that it won't happen. On Saturday I felt, for the first time in over eight years of refereeing, that I didn't need to take the shit being thrown at me any more. It didn't help. In fact it almost lead to me being physically assaulted.

A festival, a jamboree, a day-long celebration
of the game and decent sporting values!
It's the time of year for corporate six-a-side tournaments, and I was one of several refs at an all-day jamboree spread out over eight mini-fields. It's also a good chance to exchange views and experiences with colleagues in the referees' tent, and the pay's generally a lot better than at our officially sanctioned games. The downside is that the tournaments follow a pattern as predictable as an unregulated teenage party when the parents are out of town for the weekend.

Things start peacefully at 9am. The sun's out and everyone's in a good mood, apart from the team in green, already marked out in the first 13-minute game of the day as serial moaners. For the first two hours, though, the consensus in the refs' tent is that it's all "very relaxed". But the weather's turning