Tag Archives: referee

My first supply league middle

1st-star-medal-gold Following on from my first game of the season (in a 4th official role), it was time to grab my whistle and have my first ‘middle’ of the season too. This was on my local supply league now that I am eligible to do those games following my promotion to Level 4.

The warm-up from the previous game had given me confidence that my achilles was going to behave, and I’m very happy to report that it stayed rock solid throughout the 90 minutes. However, the first game back is always a shock to the system, so the end result was that everything else hurt instead! Thankfully, just the usual DOMS after the game rather than anything more sinister.

The game itself went well although I am aware that I have a lot of work to do to get my fitness back to my peak level. That’s to be expected following the injury. I’ve resumed training runs again with the achilles remaining stable but I am being careful with how I am ramping up the activity to avoid anything else going ‘ping’.

It was a great moment to start that training run yesterday, as I was very much aware that I was able to run along pain free so had a big smile on my face!

It’s a busy week though: Another supply league middle coming up, then my first outing as Assistant Referee on the contrib, then refereeing an U18s Premier League Academy match!

Cup Final Season

Cup Final #2 !

Now that the season is drawing to a close, the leagues are winding down and referees are put on rotation for the dwindling number of remaining fixtures. However, it also means it is time for the various Cup Finals!

To begin with, I was very happy to be appointed as Reserve Referee to the Surrey FA Women’s Cup Final. This worked out to be my third county cup final in two seasons. The game itself was very one sided, with Chelsea Ladies pulling a convincing 10-1 win over Fulham Ladies. However, I enjoyed it due to doing something new. In particular, controlling the benches (not that much needed to be done here, just minor tidying) and working the electronic substitution board as required.

My second cup final was as Assistant Referee for the Surrey County Intermediate League (Western). The sun held true and this was a really enjoyable game for me. It was strongly competitive and settled with a single goal. I ended up awarding an (obvious) penalty due to the referee being unsighted, although it was not converted, as well as making a (fairly obvious) ball over the line call (it wasn’t!). The big decisions were all correct and as a result the game had no drama attached to it. We had a strong team of officials. Here is a good selection of photos.

I have a final on my Sunday league coming up, and for that one I am the referee. I’m really looking forward to that it. Then I can go on holiday and put my feet up!

It’s certainly been a very enjoyable season for me with some real achievements. To be rewarded by being appointed to finals is a real honour. What will the next season bring?

Enhanced Promotion: Success!

It’s been a fun year since March 2011. I’ve now been informed that I have been successful in completing my Enhanced Promotion attempt with Surrey FA, which now means that I am a Level 5 (Senior County) referee.

There has been a fair amount involved in this:

  1. Attending two Promotion IST (In Service Training) events.
  2. Passing two exams on the Laws of the Game.
  3. Refereeing a minimum of 40 games (Thankfully, I easily surpassed this, with major kudos to the referee secretaries that I have worked with).
  4. Being assessed a minimum of six times.
  5. (Voluntarily) passing the FA Fitness Test. Not required for level 5 but seemed a good idea at the time 😉

The support from friends, family and (of course) my fellow referees has been outstanding. Thank you to all!

What’s next? Well, I intend to fully enjoy the remainder of the season and relax into my new level. It will unlock a few other refereeing opportunities which I intend to take up. I have also submitted my application to go for level 4 next season in order to keep up the momentum! Plus any chance to be assessed further is a good thing.

In terms of personal development, the key aspect for me has been that I have really enjoyed the journey so far. If you enjoy something, you are going to progress, if you wish to do so. I will try and remember that when I am next being shouted at on the field of play, of course 😉

An evening with Kevin Friend

I attended an FA ‘Have Your Say’ event recently, courtesy of Surrey FA. The guest speaker was Kevin Friend who is refereeing at the highest level in England, being part of the PGMO Select Group.

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!

Mass Confrontation

I had an enjoyable game on Saturday at beautiful village green style pitch in the wilds of Surrey.

On paper, this game looked like there would be nothing in it: Bottom of the league v a team vying for a top three finish.

I had refereed the away side before but not made them particularly happy when I sent off one of their more vocal players for two cautions. By ‘vocal’ I do not mean the typical shouty/dissent sort of player which the word sometimes conjures up. He was clearly a strong leader within the side and would give out the good just as he was giving out the bad.

This set me the challenge of keeping a firm grip of the game to ensure that any ill-feelings from that game would not come back to haunt me.

The game itself was going pretty well all the way up to half time. However, there was then a horror tackle on a young home player. He reacted, albeit in a ‘handbags’ way, and the away player then put his hands round round his throat!

I was already well on top in terms of positioning and giving the whistle a good blow. However, I could then see everyone else piling in, including the benches, so it was time to just step back and let the situation play out.

Thankfully, the rest of the players and managers were being helpful, prising the away player away and protecting the home player. Pretty much all posturing. As a result, I dismissed the away player for Violent Conduct and cautioned the home player for his reaction to the challenge (Adopting an aggressive attitude).

I then made the effort to talk to the away side. They were upset that a home spectator had run onto the pitch, kicked the ball at them, and generally got involved in an aggressive way. I assured them that I had seen everything and that it would be reported. This was important, as you don’t want a team to go away from a mass confrontation feeling that the referee has not been fair to both sides. I also made sure to explain the difference being a ‘handbags’ style reaction to gripping someone round the neck in terms of the cards issued.

It was also important to thank the managers for getting involved in a positive way in calming their players down.

It was then half time! Certainly an interesting way to end the first half.

I was not sure what to expect in the second half. What amazed me was that both teams came out with a positive attitude and played a fantastic game of football. There was no trace of any aggression. If anything, it was good natured, with a home team player saying to me as he came out, “Shall we have another fight now then, ref?”. The game went right to the wire, with the away side getting the winning goal in the final play of the match.

Only one additional caution was needed, for a blatant block on a player making an attacking run up the wing.

This was one of those games where afterwards I felt I got everything spot on. A demonstration that the best way of easing any potential ill-feeling from a side is to just get out there and totally ‘nail it’ the next time you see them!

Here’s a bonus video of a fellow Surrey FA referee dealing with a mass confrontation which was a bit pressured! (Skip to 3m14)

Crossing the finishing line… and a county cup final!

Nearly there now! The referee promotion season finishes at the end of this month.

All my assessments are done, the marks look good, and I’ve submitted the required paperwork. There is the possibility that I will be assessed this weekend but it seems unlikely now. I’ve done everything I can so just need to sit back and wait for the results.

Will I have been successful in going from level 7 to level 5 in one season? (I obtained level 6 back in October).

It’s been a fun and eventful season. I hope all my fellow promotion candidates have enjoyed it and get what they are after when everything is announced.

I got some good news yesterday: I’ve been appointed as Reserve Referee to the Women’s County Cup Final in April. This will be great for experience, including playing with ‘the big flashing board’, and adds to the two county cup finals that I was privileged to be appointed to last season.

Will there be any other interesting appointments in the near future?

An evening with the World Cup Final Assistant Referees

I attended the Surrey FA RA-FA meeting last night, where Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey gave their story of their involvement in the World Cup. They were the two Assistant Referees who accompanied Howard Webb and ended up officiating the Final! They certainly had a better campaign than the England national team.

I have met Darren and Mike before, when they were assisting Mike Jones in early 2010. I was impressed that they remembered me plus the game (Portsmouth v Birmingham).

What struck me about both Darren and Mike is just how down to earth they are. They have reached the utmost top of their profession yet there was not a single trace of any arrogance whatsoever. They have clearly worked extremely hard and made sacrifices to achieve their goals, yet remain very humble. They demonstrated great empathy with some of their colleagues who ended up being sent home after errors, for example.

Shiny things! Inflatable things!

Some general notes from the evening:

  1. MARGIN FOR ERROR: Darren in particular had to make some very tight offside calls. After the event, the experts on hand were able to reproduce the situations and give the official verdict. On one occasion he had it correct… with the margin of error being 8 centimetres! That distance is NOTHING considered the pace of the game at the highest level. Very impressive.
  2. HEADSET COMMUNICATIONS: They admit they are always refining these techniques. The key is “ABC” – Accurate, Brief, Concise. The example given was: “Free kick to attack, shirt pull, yellow card, number 8”. Same should apply at park level when the referee needs to consult in-person with an assistant.
  3. ACTION AT THE OTHER END: Mike made a great comment regarding a game where Darren had all the action: “It was like being at a birth. All the action was happening at the other end, and I wanted to be involved, but it all seemed to be getting a bit messy so I thought best to stay where I was”. Brilliant.
  4. DEBRIEFS: These did not happen in the changing rooms. Instead, they were done with all the teams of officials together over the following days, and backed up with video. In ‘situations of interest’, the officials involved had to stand up and explain why they took the action they did. Be that for a good or bad incident! That way, due to the supportive atmosphere, everyone learned.
  5. COMING BACK FROM DESPAIR: I asked how Mike bounced back from Euro 2008, where it was his (lack of) an offside call that contributed to them being sent home. He was devastated but said the support he received was all-important. In particular, “It’s not making mistakes, it’s how you deal with them”. The strongest point he made here was that the one thing which helped boost him was when the FA nominated him for the next set of international fixtures. That vote of confidence was key. He urged any Appointments Secretaries present to consider the same approach if a referee has a bad game!
  6. SHOWING THE CARD: They told how Howard received some advice from the previous Final referee: When showing the card, show it to the side. You are communicating the decision to the player with your eyes. The card is for everyone else! “Howard like it so much he showed it 14 times in the next game”.
  7. GOAL LINE TECHNOLOGY: In favour, for absolute decisions only (“Has the ball crossed the line?”). Makes sense to trial it and see if it works. On that note, the extra assistants that stand on the goal-line: They make audio signals only regarding decisions. It might be better for them to make indications as otherwise it looks like they just aren’t involved.
  8. LAWS OF THE GAME: Darren felt it would be interesting to bring back the ’10 yards for dissent’ experiment, although with a modification that it was optional for the attacking team (gaining 10 yards could be a disadvantage if going for a shot).
  9. IGNORANCE: Occurs at the highest levels. A tale of a Premiership Manager not knowing that part of the foot is allowed on the pitch for a throw-in. A player thinking that a goal kick is not a goal kick if it isn’t taken on the corner of the goal area. Shocking!
  10. It was a very insightful evening and my thanks go to everyone involved in making it happen.