What struck me about Kevin, and in the same way as when I saw Darren Cann and Mike Mallarkey speak, was just how open, honest and down to earth he was. In fact, the bulk of the presentation focused on mistakes he had made and how he had bounced back from them to get where he is now.
He, of course, learned from them and resolved to keep going, despite the disappointment at the time.
Some key points:
- STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF: At level 4, Kevin finished his first season in band C. Acceptable, but he wanted to improve. The initial advice he got was that he needed to be issuing more cautions. He tried this. Next season: Band D! “You are giving out too many cards, keep them in your pocket!”. He tried this. Next season: Band E! What happened when he finally refereed to his own feelings and enjoyment? Promotion!
- YOU ARE CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP: Kevin told the story of an FA Cup game earlier in his career when due to an error by his Assistant, a team played four substitutes. This led to action by the FA and of course a blot on his copy book! Since then, he has always kept a record of substitutes even when delegating the responsibility to an Assistant (or nowadays a 4th Official). Ultimately, as Referee, you are captain of the ship and responsible for your Assistants.
- NOT GETTING PROMOTION: Kevin was all set for his initial interview and hopeful promotion to the Select Group. The season had gone well. However, in a crucial play-off semi final just the week before, he disallowed a goal which replays showed should have been allowed. Even worse, there was no trace of a foul. This very public critical error was mentioned as a factor for why he did not get the promotion. He resolved to back again next year in that office, except this time being promoted!
- KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PLAYER: In an infamous Portsmouth v Sunderland encounter, Kevin admits that he lost track of the player he wanted to dismiss for DOGSO. As a result, the wrong player was initially dismissed until the real culprit was identified and it was all sorted out. It looked really messy. However, lesson learned, to the extent of even bringing in a running commentary, e.g. “If number three brings him down now, that’s a red card….”.
The presentation concluded with a video highlighting a set of refereeing mistakes at European level, featuring a wide selection of officials. It just showed how important it is that we get everything right!
It was a great presentation and just goes to show: It is easy to keep positive when things are going well. However, the great referees are able to bounce back from major disappointments in their careers, and know it is down to them… and not blaming anyone else!