Friday, 15 December 2017

The Gentleman is a Dope and other jazz records for referees

The winter break is here. It's time to count my earnings. Every week, rather than allow my chiselling compensation to be swallowed up by the daily cash flow of my wallet (pills, thrills, hearing aid batteries etc.), I drop the risible €22 in to my Manchester United 1977 FA Cup Winner's souvenir mug. Every few months I take Mrs RT out for a meal (because she never complains that I spend my Sundays being a human sponge for choleric inadequates), or I indulge myself in the sort of stuff that people of a certain age cannot resist: superfluous gadgets and old vinyl.

Receptacle for a mug's wages
There's a second hand record shop I often cycle past on my way to and from games, and inevitably I wonder why I'm not in there perusing forgotten Meisterwerke instead of pedalling off in to the wind and the rain to voluntarily face the wrath of athletically backward men operating on a collectively shortened fuse. Last week, though, in the comfort of knowing I won't be refereeing for at least another six weeks, I delayed a long overdue office clear-out in favour of finally stepping inside, the wages of abuse burning a hole in my jeans pocket.

I don't regret the amount I squandered because this turned out to be the finest record shop in the world (and I've seen a few). It's small, but friendly. Each one of the three clerks made sure to welcome me, and one gave me a quick orientation course before disappearing to make me a cup of coffee. Was there anything I wanted to hear? Sure, stick on this Kenny Burrell Japanese

Sunday, 3 December 2017

What to do if a player throws a snowball at a coach

Game 29, 2017-18

Last spring at one of our regular referees' meetings aimed at our ongoing edification, I presented a critique of our online test on the Laws of the Game, where the object seems to be not to test you and make you a better referee, but to catch you out and go, "Ha!" As an example of the multiple stupid questions we are obliged to research and correctly answer once a month, I cited the following puzzler: "During a game on a snow-covered pitch with the ball in play, one of the players throws a snowball at the opposing team's coach. What is the referee's decision?"

White lines - don't do
 it! Bravely, we did.
Why is this such a stupid question? I asked rhetorically. First, there's a long winter break in this country, so you rarely if ever officiate matches in the snow. Second, due to global warming it hardly snows during the winter months any more at all, let alone outside of the winter break. Third, a game on the hypothetically snow-covered pitch would probably be called off anyway. And finally, in the very unlikely event that you ref a game on a snow-covered pitch, what are the odds of a player throwing a snowball at the opposing team's coach?

The answer to the question is clearly 'red card' for the offending player (and even then it depends on context - the question doesn't allow for the fact they might be arsing around). But the monthly test wants to know more than that. What's the re-start? Drop-ball, direct or indirect free-kick? Get that part wrong and you lose both points - you don't even get a single point for getting the 'red card' part right.

The problem with our online test, I argued to my doubtless captive audience of colleagues, is that I will never remember the correct answer to such an obscure question. And should it somehow ever happen, not a single other person present will have a fucking clue if I've re-started the game in the