Tag Archives: Refereeing

ED-209 meets the Respect campaign?

This is an interesting new take on the Respect campaign from The FA. A lot more than a mere tip of the hat to the ultra-violent RoboCop film as well!

I am now wondering whether I should take a cuddly toy onto the pitch to hand to the next dissentful player. It would certainly get some sort of reaction.

Battling with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis

InsertionalAchilles I’ve been struggling with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis since around February. I really need to get it sorted now, so am going to start blogging about it to maintain some sort of focus.

The history is fairly typical for this sort of injury: Overuse. I’ve been running regularly for years as a football referee. In a typical game, I will travel 10 km in a variety of ways: Walking, jogging, running, sprinting, running backwards, changes of direction… It’s all going on! When fully fit I would also be engaging in training runs of between 5 and 10 km, and last year I did the Great South Run (10 miles) with no problems at all.

I used to be a classic heel-strike runner, but switched to a minimalist style last year. I managed to transition pretty quickly and was using that style for about eight months before the achilles issues struck. Transitioning also solved the knee ligament issues I was suffering from in my left leg! Due to the long time period before the achilles issues came on, I’m not blaming the minimalist style here, but I do accept that it does load the achilles more than heel-striking — That’s how it saves the knee joints from being shot to pieces!

So what happened?

Well, over the last winter we had atrocious weather in the UK. Lots of games were postponed. I was lazy and did not keep up my supplementary training runs. Then it was the Christmas break and I didn’t do anything then either, but did put on a bit of weight! When the season started again the weather continued to be bad, so it wasn’t really until February that I was back to full-intensity games. And that was the problem. I went from a sustained period of doing nothing to resuming my usual refereeing intensity, and at that point the tendonitis started. As is typical, there was no sudden ‘BANG’ moment: it was more of a dull that came on the following morning. It never really went away and has persisted since then.

I would class the pain as annoying. It doesn’t impact my performance per se: I can still run, sprint and so on, but I just end up paying for it afterwards or the next day. Doing two activities in two days is really asking for trouble. Basically, it makes me not want to or enjoy training, and that has gotten worse over time. Not because the soreness has gotten worse, more that I am just getting completely fed up with it.

At the end of last season I took a bit of a break, but short-lived. About three weeks. That isn’t very much for an achilles tendon injury from the reading I have been doing. I then needed to train for my fitness test (Cooper Test and sprints), which I passed with no problem. Then another four weeks of rest before I got a bit over confident and did two 5k runs in two days, and the soreness came right back. Not as bad as it has been though, I will say, but again the fact I am not healed is getting tiresome.

I’ve had some physio during this time but I am left feeling that in my case, it isn’t helpful without giving the tendon time to rest first. Calf stretches cause pain due to the tugging on the tendon. It isn’t the ‘nice’ sort of pain you get when you know a stretch is doing you good. It’s the ‘Please don’t do this!’ sort of pain. There seem to be various references that the best thing to do is ACTUALLY REST IT, and certainly don’t try stretching and strengthening until that painful acute stage is over. Common sense, I guess?

The latest is that I have seen a consultant who has taken X-Rays and an Ultrasound. I’m awaiting my follow-up. The X-Ray has not shown anything out of the ordinary: Perhaps a very slight Haglund’s Deformity but it seemed very, very small compared to some of the example ones on the Internet. Besides, this did come on in an ‘overuse’ scenario. The Ultrasound confirmed a very small (1mm or less) tear. I don’t know exactly where yet until the follow-up. The optimist in me sees this as a good thing in a way: A tear can heal, even if it will take a while, and I’d rather it be that rather than some structural failure.

The immediate plan is more rest until the follow-up in a week or so. I won’t know then whether I should commence refereeing in the new season when August swings around. If I have to declare myself injured for a month or two (maybe more?!) then so be it. The important thing is to beat this. Much as I will be chomping at the bit as a result!

Watch this space…

My End of Season Review

My football refereeing season of 2011/2012 is at an end. Now is the time for self-analysis in order to see how well I did, especially in comparison with my goals, and decide where I would like to go in terms of moving forwards.


  1. I GOT MY PROMOTION: I succeeded in going from level 7 to level 5 (a ‘double jump’ promotion) in one season. This required a great deal of commitment and I’m pleased that there was no drama along the way.
  2. CUP FINALS: I was very pleased to be selected for a total of five cup finals. This was nearly six but unfortunately I was away on holiday for the last one. It is always a honour to be considered for a cup final and they were a great way of rounding off the season.
  3. I DIDN’T GET INJURED: Well, kinda. I will touch on this more in the next section. Essentially, I got through the season without any major problems, which was important considering how many games I needed to get in for the promotion.
  4. I ENJOYED IT! Isn’t this the most important thing? I enjoyed my games, the challenges that they presented, and the various people that I met during the season: Players, officials and fellow referees. Some early advice I received was “Enjoy your refereeing” and how true that is!


  1. MY WEIGHT: Despite being so active, I managed to to put on about 10 kilograms during the season. This was down to eating very badly. It started to have an impact on my joints plus how generally nimble I felt when refereeing (twisting and turning, changes of direction and so on). Not only that, I’m not happy with how I was looking towards the end of the season!
  2. INJURY: Linked to my weight. My knees started to play up a bit towards the end of the season due to the repeated impact of the stop/start running. Essentially, a case of Runner’s Knee. Nothing serious as rest abates it but those extra 10 kilograms were hardly helping! Oh, and having an ‘out of balance’ body, but I will come to that later.
  3. LEVEL 4: I’m now going for promotion again, to level 4. I’ve had my first assessment and while it is a commendable result for my first assessment at my new level, it is not as high a mark as I would like.


  1. WEIGHT LOSS: This is already going very well, and I’ve lost over 5 kilograms so far. I’m sticking to a 2000 kcal diet, with exercise allowing extra calories! MyFitnessPal is an excellent site for tracking this.
  2. FITNESS: The off-season allows me to be more stuctured in my routine. I’ve been working on a combination of normal running, interval and speed training. This has included working towards my fitness test which needs to be done in August/September (I am well on track for this). I’ve also started CrossFit in order to keep my body in good balance, to aid in flexibility and injury prevention. I’m really enjoying this.
  3. I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012/2013: I’m really looking forward to the new season. I feel like I’m going to be great physical shape when it comes around, and I have a level 4 to earn!

Bring it on 🙂

Ask The Ref: Mike Riley on BBC 5 live

Mike Riley is the manager of the Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) board, which gives him the responsibility of looking after the referees at the professional level in England.

He recently took part in a BBC 5 live special, discussing, you guessed it, refereeing, with a particular emphasis on the Premier League.

Also featured is Kenny Hibbitt (Match Delegate) and Paul Rejer (Senior Coach of PGMO Assistant Referees).

Some topics:

  • Should Assistant Referees turn professional?
  • The assessing and match delegate system.
  • What is being done about the swarming of referees following contentious decisions?
  • Are referees letting personal / ‘big club’ relationships influence decisions?
  • Should assessor reports be made public?
  • Goal line technology and the Extra Assistants.
  • Should referees explain their decisions to the media after a game?

The Podcast can be found on the 5 live podcast page.

Taking the Fitness Test

Keep on running...

I’ve been intending to take the Surrey FA fitness test for a while. It is not strictly required for the Enhanced Promotion scheme that I am on, but I love a good challenge and also to demonstrate that I am serious about all this.

The core component is the Cooper Test. Very simple: Run as far as you can in twelve minutes without stopping. The required distance to pass is 2500 metres. I had done a few test-runs, mostly on inclined treadmills, and had a good solid pace to hit 2700 metres without keeling over. Oh, and the right music choice to pace myself with!

I’ve been running regularly, both for fitness and when refereeing, so felt confident I would do okay. Especially with the extra adrenaline boost on the day.

On the day there were five candidates. It was a good atmosphere as the test was being held on a proper athletics track, which was being used by some other people too. With just five candidates, there was no real ‘pack’ to run with, so I was glad I had worked on pacing! In the end, I nailed 2700 metres so my ‘game plan’ worked successfully. I could have edged that up a bit but wanted to ensure I saved energy for the sprinting test…

The sprinting test is also simple: Run 50 metres in 7.5 seconds or less, walk back, and do it again. I’ve always been quite proud of my sprinting speed so this presented no issues. No record was kept of my exact time, which is a shame, but really the important thing is that I passed and that no injuries were sustained.

Now to keep working on my fitness and, of course, the healthy eating! I’ve set a benchmark to beat next time round…

Garmin Forerunner 410 – First impressions

I have had a few heart rate monitors over the years. I started out with a Polar RS200. This was a simple enough device which tracked HR and had good feedback for which training zone I was in. Sadly, it decided to die recently.

I also owned a Garmin Forerunner 305. This had the additional bonus of GPS tracking which allowed all sorts of geeky analysis. One downside was that it felt a bit like something out of Star Trek when worn due to its bulk. This one didn’t die. Instead, I lost it years ago. Oops.

It was time to get a new one and I elected for the Garmin Forerunner 410.

There have been a few different models since the 305 which have passed me by. In that time, the design has improved a lot and although the 410 is a little bit bigger than I would like, it will certainly do! I am a little bit disappointed by the strap as it is a bit clunky considering the price of the device.

The bezel on the watch is used to control the menu system. This works…okay… although is not really as responsive as I would like. I feel a typical watch interface would have been a bit smoother. That said, I really like how the core options can be accessed VERY quickly, and the backlight and locking options are very simple to access. Previous models had reports on rain and sweat triggering the menus and so far this has not happened to me.

The chest strap is very soft and comfortable although I’m not sure if I like how the transmitter unit needs to clip on. One more thing to lose! Plus if you forget to unclip the transmitter, the battery is going to run down overnight…

Used in anger when refereeing last night, everything worked great. I adjusted the display so I could see the items I cared about (loads of options here!) and just left it running. Annoyingly, ‘Auto Lap’ was on by default so I soon turned this off. Along with ‘key tones’ which have to be one of the most irritating default options on electronics around!

Data is easily transferred onto a laptop and into Garmin Connect via the provided ANT+ USB stick. This detects when a watch is in range and you pair it, much in the same way as with Bluetooth. It is all very seamless which is perfect. Once the data is on Garmin Connect, all the geeky data is there for review. Perfect!

One small note here: I exported the data from Garmin Connect to import into RunKeeper. At some end of that process it got truncated so ended up shorter in distance and time. Something to chase up.

So far, I am pretty happy with it. It works well and is providing a lot of interesting information!

Pre-season friendlies: A dangerous game?

Pre-season non-competitive games (think ‘friendlies’) are a bit of a challenge. In an ideal world, they would all end up like the pre-season game I did last weekend: Both teams knew each other, gave good banter, played with spirit and didn’t kick each other off the park. In fact, it was probably one of the most enjoyable games that I have refereed!

Ultimately, that is because both teams came along with the right attitude. Of course, I will naturally state at this point that I gave it the right ‘refereeing touch’ to allow them to just get on with it. Empathy is very important.

In the news, there has been another incident of a friendly becoming decidedly less so. Ilkeston v Mansfield Town was abandoned when the Mansfield manager instructed his players to leave the field of play. He was unhappy that three of his players had been injured, some to hospital treatment level, by the same opponent. After the game, Ilkeston suspended the offending player, subject to an internal investigation.

The player was also substituted following the third injury but clearly the damage had already been done, and the abandonment soon followed.

It is sometimes ‘customary’ for referees to be somewhat shy of using formal sanctions (cautions and dismissals) in pre-season games (“It’s only a friendly, ref!”). Hence a problem player is sometimes managed by way of him or her being substituted instead. This is a very dangerous game to play as if a game slips away from being ‘friendly’, choosing to not use any formal sanctions immediately removes key components of the referee’s toolbox.

The Laws Of The Game apply to pre-season games just like any other. I explain to the players before such games that just how friendly it is going to be is completely down to them and how they play the game. Cards will count! It would be great not to use them but I will use them if it comes to it. It’s a clear message.

Equally, ‘roll on, roll off’ substitutions are NOT permitted in pre-season friendlies (again, because the Laws Of The Game are the same!). There always seems to be the expectation that they should be allowed which is, sadly, down to some referees getting it wrong. Teams ARE allowed as many substitutes as they like, however, due to it not being a formal competition.

I’ve several more pre-season games coming up. It will be very interesting to see how they vary in tempo and temperature!

Do you have any pre-season game stories to share?