Chapter 10 – On the line

Yesterday I was involved in my first game for a few months. I was an assistant referee (or lino if you prefer) in an under 18s match.

I really enjoy being a linesman, although I feel it’s a much harder job than being the referee in the middle.

As a referee you can almost choose your position, as the assistant you have to be inline with the second last defending player. You also have to know where the attacking player who is receiving the ball was when the ball was played. If when watching on the tele you think it looks easy, may I suggest the next time you see a Sunday league match taking place, offer to have the flag and see for yourself.

I arrived nice and early and had a look at the conditions. The pitch looked good and the weather seemed to be ok, then just as we were about to come out of the changing rooms the heavens opened!

20140327-085909.jpgme during the game

The game was played in a really good spirit from the start. The home keeper made a great save tipping a long range effort on to the bar. Overall I would say the game was fairly even apart from the away team took their chances eventually winning 4-1, a scoreline I felt was a little harsh.

There was the usual disagreement with the odd decision by the referee but he wasn’t constantly bothered by either team and was allowed to control the game. I must praise both teams on their attitude, especially the home side. I’ve seen all to often, a team starts to concede a few goals and there discipline goes out the window, not on this occasion. They continued to play a good game. No rash tackles, no off the ball incidents and no verbal abuse to opposing players or us officials.

Dispute the rain and it being very cold it was an enjoyable afternoon.


Please check out a great referee pod which this month looks at the importance of the RA (Refereees Association)

Chapter 9 – Mistaken Identity

Who’d be a referee? A question Andre Marriner maybe asking himself after taking charge of Chelsea vs Arsenal.

He was in a great position to see Oxlade-Chamberlain handle the ball so what followed will be hard for him to justify. Mr Marriner gave himself a bit of time before deciding to award the penalty. His assistant wasn’t flagging, maybe they had a brief conversation via their radios but nonetheless the correction decision.

He then decided to issue a red card to Kieran Gibbs. I can only assume he lost concentration for a brief moment in deciding if to award a penalty that he issued the card to the wrong player. Not only that, it was the wrong card that was taken out. Did he forget which pocket he’d put the yellow card? The shot was going wide so wasn’t stopping a goal scoring chance and was only worthy of a yellow card.

20140324-083154.jpgWas Marriner thinking about his dinner?

Arsenal will be able to appeal the card on the grounds of mistaken identity. I’m not sure they will be able to save Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from a ban as it may not have be so obvious to Andre Marriner that the shot wasn’t going in. Although having said that I’m not sure what he was thinking about before he awarded the penalty. His dinner that night perhaps?

I’m sure he’ll have plenty to think when the FA give him a couple weeks off!

20140324-083900.jpgMarriner will not be getting the thumbs up from the FA

All referees make mistakes from time to time. I once sent off a player for two yellow cards when in fact I hadn’t booked earlier. I booked a number 10 in the first half. Then midway through the second half I blew for a free kick. I felt this was a caution and as the player came over to me I could see that he had #10 on his shorts and from my book the #10 had been booked so I showed him a red after his ‘second’ yellow.

I realised my mistake after he verbally abused me for 5 minutes. I told the manager he could bring on a replacement and that player was not to player any further part. I explained my decision to the opposing manager who praised me for admitting my mistake.

Can’t see that happening in the professional game though.

Old blogs

I’m pleased with the response from my new blog and amazed at the number of countries it has been read in! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read it.

As I mentioned I did blog a little before so thought I would post them all.

Ref Blog

Chapter 1 – how it all began

At the start of the 2001/2002 season I found myself working at a 5-a-side centre. My boss asked me if I could help out refereeing in a youth league on Sundays, even though I wasn’t qualified I said yes. A few tips was given to me and I went out out bought myself a kit, flags, red/yellow cards, note book and a whistle. The next day I was given the under 11s. I found it ok. No major issues, no real hassle from the kids or the parents and I carried on for the rest of that season. The first issue I recall dealing was a few years later when after a mistimed tackle the two players involved squared up. I called them over explained to the player fouled that there was no intent but just a missed timed tackle. I asked both to shake hands and carry on playing the game in a good spirit as prior to the challenge. This was seen by the leagues head referee and I was praised. So ten years later…… I am still part of that league but have never undertaken a referees course. In July I shall be doing that, after a conversation with a friend, who referees, inspired my to attempt to become a professional referee and reach the premier league. Let’s hope I get to the promised land!!

Chapter 2 – the course
I made my way to the Essex FA in Chelmsford. I felt nervous as I got there, not sure why as I was confident I would do well. The tutors were really friendly and welcoming which settled the nerves. The group was quite mixed, some youngsters, some people my age and a few a little older, all in all a really good group. Lots of mixed views and opinions which was good. Even though I had been refereeing for 10 years I didn’t tell anyone as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself! I did learn a fair bit, for me the biggest thing I learnt was about throw ins! It was really interesting to know that both of the players feet can be on the pitch as long as part of them are on the line! I revised quite hard for the exam as I have always been useless at exams but when the results were called out I was surprised to be named top of the class with 96%! I went home feeling very pleased and couldn’t wait to get going as a qualified ref!

Chapter 3 – The First Six
The first game I refereed after completing the course was a pre-season friendly that a friend and fellow ref had asked me to do, with a lift home too! Nice and easy I thought. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The game itself wasn’t too bad, but in the second half the ‘fuck off ref!’ insults became to common so I called a player from the away team over and asked him to cut out the insults and from his reaction i thought I had gotten through to him and the rest of the players. About 5 mins later a player from the home side disagreed with a decision I had made and promptly shouted “fuck off ref you’re shit!” I thought enough was enough and called him over to be cautioned. When I asked for his name his reply was “John and that’s all you’re getting!” I noted that down along with the offence code and time then as I showed him the yellow card he walked away and said “prick!” I called him back showed him a straight red card. As he walked away He said to me “I’m not giving you a lift now!” I guess he thought that would bother me, it didn’t as I lived a 10 minute walk away! The offending players club apologised to me and arranged for another player to give me a lift home. What an introduction to men’s football tht game was!

The second game was given to me by the same friend and I had my fears it would go the same way as the first! But the manager of the home side was a qualified ref at one point had been a level 4, he assured me that his players would not step out of line. They didn’t, it was a complete contrast to the first game!

The 3rd game was the first men’s competitive game I had ever refereed. I was a little anxious as to what it would be like, but by chance one of the players was someone I had for quite friendly with on the referees course! He was quick to explain to his players that there would be no bad attitude towards me as I wouldn’t stand for it. The game passed with no real incidents apart from me falling on my face as I tried to keep up with a counter attack! I took the expected jeers with laughter and responded to a comment from a player “was you in the Olympics ref with Tom Daly?!” with “no, unfortunately I didn’t qualify!”. A nice bit of banter topped off a nice game.

Game 4 happened by mistake! I was asked to run the line at a fixture and when I turned up I was the only official! Luckily I had all my equipment with me! This game passed almost incident free until the final minute when a long ball over the top was deliberately handled by the defender, I had to make a descion whether to send the player off or not! As I looked across the line I saw he had teammates covering and the ball would’ve bounced through to the keeper so I just issued a caution. From the resulting free kick an attacker was trying to get into the defensive wall. He was leaning into the wall which resulted in him being pushed back. Words were exchanged and I asked the attacker not to lean in to the wall, he told me to shut up so I called him over to be cautioned.

The fifth game was another pre-season friendly. Which passed without incident, well almost!! A few minutes before the end the team losing 6-0 started arguing amongst themselves! It must’ve worked for them as they scored a last minute consolation goal!

The final game of ‘the six’ games required to move up to a level 7 was a good one to ref. The away team dominated but fell 2-0 down due to quick counter attacking goals. I began to wonder whether their attitude would be good or not but it was fairly good. There were obviously disagreements at some decisions that went against them but overall there wasn’t any abuse or dissent. The away team managed to pull a goal back before halftime and the second half was fairly quiet as both teams struggled in the heat! After completing the six games I look back over them and feel fairly please with my performances but feel there will always be room for improvement and I know I need to become a bit more vocal. I have been appointed to run the line on two games so will be taking notes on how an experienced referee handles things.

Chapter 4 – vets football
Today I’ve been appointed to a vets game. Wasn’t sure what to expect, a nice easy game as they’re older and more mature or a difficult one as they’ve had more years of making life difficult for referees!

Well overall it was an easy game to referee. One player who kept moaning/appealing for decisions but begun to look silly when he was the only one from his team calling for a free kick. One he wanted, he went running into an opponent, and as his opponent controlled the ball bounced off him and ended up on the floor. Only other negative was a two players had words with each other after a foul, I had played a great advantage (if I do say so myself!) but had to stop play to ensure no fisticuffs took place.

Have to say it was the quickest 90mins I have ever refereed. After getting changed I went into the bar to collect my payment. Was surprised when I was bought a pint and then given some chips! I chose to ignore the salad bar dodger joke, maybe because it’s true but as I head head home it’s nice not to be thinking ‘what a bunch of idiots they were!’

I look forward to picking up my whistle in the youth league tomorrow!

Chapter 5

So today for the first time this season I was refereeing in the youth league where I started 10 years ago. Only preseason friendlies mind, but it was nice to be over there, catching up with fellow referees that I hadn’t seen since the end of last seasons.

I was given three games to do and all went well and more or less passed without any incident. Only one questionable incident, I gave a penalty and the manager was adamant that his defender got the ball bit I explained to him that I saw not contact with the ball and from the view I had it was 100% a penalty. He seemed to be ok and I think we agreed to disagree, we shook hands and all was well. However if this was a league game I doubt he would’ve been so calm.

It was nice to be back over refereeing in the youth league. I feel being officially qualified has given me a bit of extra confidence and I look forward to next week when the league games start.

Above emailed in!!

Chapter 6 – Getting used to life as a qualified referee

I wouldn’t say my style of refereeing has changed since passing the referees course but I do feel I’m refereeing with a lot more confidence. A few chapters ago I mentioned an area I know I needed improvement on, player management and discipline. I feel the extra confidence I now have, has improved that area a lot.

A key part of controlling the game as a referee is knowing when a word will be enough and knowing when to bring out the cards.

Today I refereed a college match. The game was played in really good spirit and I didn’t really have much to do. I spoke to three players throughout the match for three different things. Each time I explained my decision and told that anything similar and I would take further action. Each player responded in a great manner. Fully accepting they had done wrong and allowing me to finish speaking before apologising and then moving back into their position. The adults I have refereed should take note, especially the guy I sent off in my very first game as a qualified ref (chapter 2)!

I do not get as nervous now before games and feel this is allowing me to develop as a referee!


It’s been a while since I have written a blog, mixture of reasons but I’m back! Today I refereed a men’s group cup game, so no chance of extra time!!

I had to make decision before I’d blown the whistle. The weather hasn’t been great in my part of the world in the last week or so and the pitch was a bit boggy in the middle. I thought about and I spoke with both managers had said I was happy to start but if players kept diving in I would have to seriously think about calling off. The game started well and the middle actually became less sticky as the first half went on.

The game was played in a fantastic spirit and was really shocked when I gave a goal kick the attacking player, thinking it was a corner, called me a prick! I called him over and issued him with a yellow card and ask him to calm down. It wasn’t said in an aggressive manner so felt a yellow was enough.

Second half was almost identical to the first with little problems. The player on a yellow attempted a tackle but it was slightly missed timed. I played advantage and the shot went over. I called the player over to have a word with him. While he was walking over I was thinking if I should show him a second yellow. But I decided it was an honest attempt to win the ball so I told him he was on his last warning. After that he was no problem.

The game was ruined by a couple of players as I was walking back to the changing room some nasty comments were made. Almost childlike but still very nasty. I will report the team to the authorities as I feel there’s no place for that in football!

A sour end to a good game!

I need to stop taking breaks in blogging! A lot has happen since I last blogged!

I received my first assessment! I felt I refereed the game well but the assessor pointed out so many simple mistakes I was making. But at the level I am refereeing at the moment the main thing is to know the laws of the game and to be able to be in control of the match. Those were the strong points if my report so I was pleased with that.

The negatives I will turn in to positives. I now know what assessor will be looking for. Although they will differ in specifics I feel I can do excellent the next time I am assessed.

I received and email to be an assistant referee at a league two clubs ground. Thinking it would be a youth game or even a corporate game I accepted thinking it would an ‘easy game’. I couldn’t have been more wrong!!

I found out on the way to the game that the game was between Southend United and Stevenage Borough, and it was the first teams!!

Chapter 8 – All mouth and no action!

It’s been so long since I wrote this blog so long in fact I’ve had to start a new account as I couldn’t log in to my original one. I started a new job in the summer meant the number of games I have been involved in has dramatically reduced. I will repost my old blogs at a later date.

I look back on last season and was pleased with the games I had and the experience I had gained and was really gutted when I was no longer able to referee as much. At the end of the season I spent most of the summer refereeing at West Ham’s Boleyn ground in corporate games which included a team of ex pros. A fantastic experience. I was also asked by a friend of mine to referee at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge again a fantastic experience. Refereeing at premier league grounds has taught me one thing, professional referees need to have a very high level of fitness as the pitches are massive!

Since my number of games I am able to do now is not even one a week I thought I would start to write about refereeing decisions in the professional game.

I think there’s only one place to start, Villa Park. The referee in question Chris Foy. Two red cards and a manager sent away.

I’ll start with the first red card, issued to Willian for two yellow cards. The first issued is a good decision based on what was taught to me on the referees course (careless = fk, reckless = yellow card, excessive force = red card) the challenge was definitely reckless.

I will always try to defend referees as I have some understanding of what they do but I’m not sure I can defend Mr Foy on the second yellow card. Not only is it not a yellow card it’s not even a foul. I’m sure he will be disappointed when he watches match of the day!

The Ramieres challenge is nothing short of disgraceful. No intention to go for the ball only the intention of hurting a fellow professional. Challenges like that should see bans extended beyond 3 games.

As for Mourinhio I’m not sure why he was sent away. I can only assume he said something the Chris Foy didn’t approve of.

Next the decision of Lee Mason to dismiss Vincent Kompany in Hull City vs Man City. My first reaction was that Jelavic had fouled the Man City defender, a view shared by Kompany. But the replays clearly show he tripped over his own leg so for me that is a fantastic decision my Lee Mason.

Stoke at home to West Ham. The away side had a good shout for a penalty in the second half. In my opinion it should have been awarded. The defenders arm was in an unnatural position and had it not been there andy Carroll would’ve won the header. So a mistake there from Craig Pawson.

Mr Pawson’s assist made a fantastic decision to rule out Kevin Nolan’s goal for offside. The law states the attacking player needs to be level with the second last defending player.

At Old Trafford the following day we see madness as Liverpool are awarded 3 penalties. Before the first one, Rafael is booked for a poor challenge on Steven Gerrard. The penalty is awarded for handball by Rafael. Definite penalty and I think the right decision not to give a second yellow. My reason was that it’s difficult to say if he deliberately moved his hand towards the ball but if he hadn’t handled it, Suarez would’ve gone past him. So all in all the right call by Mark Clattenburg.

The second penalty was a blatant push I’m the back by Jones not a difficult decision to make.

The third I feel shouldn’t have been awarded as although Vidic made no contact with the ball he also made no contact with Sturridge. So you could say justice was done by the penalty being missed. You can’t blame Clattenburg for awarding the penalty as the dive by Sturridge was timed to perfection. In real time it looked like a foul it’s only from a different camera angle and slowed down its clear it wasn’t.

Liverpool should’ve had another penalty when Carrick clipped Sturridge. Swings and roundabouts as they say.