Game 20, 2017-18
I'm sitting reading the walls in the referee's changing room before a men's first team game that has taken me some way out of town. There are four framed certificates on display that honour one man's devotion to the game - a referee who's a member of the home club, and who has put in 50 years of service to the amateur game. I mentally salute his devotion. I'm only in my tenth season, but I feel like I've been reffing much, much longer.
|What Scots are good at.|
A few minutes later, having inspected the pitch, I'm warming up close to the touchline when an elderly gentleman ambles by and begins to chat about refereeing. I soon work out that he's the ref whose certificates are on my changing room wall. He tells me how he skipped the country when he was young to avoid doing military service and travelled the world. He ended up playing for a Scottish ex-pat club in Adelaide. "Boy, could they drink," he says. "Every last one of them."
He also has a view on the problems referees face now compared with when he started out. "What I notice now throughout the game is a lack of respect," he says thoughtfully, and with some sadness. "A complete lack of respect." I agree, although I don't mention that I've a blog full of stories to back us up.
|Played the advantage, |
goal was scored. Yay!
The game starts well in the fourth minute when I play advantage after a dirty tackle, and the home team races up field to take the lead. I've written before about this being the closest a ref can come to feeling like they've scored a goal, and I have to really focus on not smiling as I note down the goal-scorer and the time of the goal. There's a crowd of 40-50 people and they all shout out, "Well played, ref!" (I just made that last bit up - in fact they spend the entire game incredulously contesting every last call against the home side.)
A quiet first half ends 1-1, but there are a number of notable incidents after the break: