If my sporting words should ever go into history, let it be these: God Bless Referees!

As a qualified football referee with a bit of experience now, my advice for any newcomers would be this: “A good referee needs four things: Two good eyes, and two deaf ears.” once that happens, you’re on your way to better things on the footballing ladder. It’s no secret that the quality of officiating at the top level has come under scrutiny recently because of certain things that did or didn’t happen in their decision making. Even World Cup Final Referee Howard Webb has had his critics for this season so far! But these people have given up their time and effort for the sport that they love for a hobby. All the while there are overpaid, mindless louts getting credited with more than £100,000 per WEEK to play the game and use and abuse those in charge of the game at the same time. But I’ve had enough of this. It’s time we stood up for ourselves.

There are now over 35,000 FA Certified Referees in England, a number that’s only increasing as the number of training courses available have gone up considerably. Although we do get paid for what we do (ranging from about £15 to £500+ per game, guess which ones get paid more…) , it’s still our hobby. (Although there are some that are professionals, you can probably guess which ones again…)

While we enjoy our hobby most of the time, I don’t think many people like to spend their weekends being shouted at and called various horrific names while chasing 22 sweaty men around a field. All of this whilst being called a “F***ING CHEAT!” or “THE W*NKER IN THE BLACK” by the stereotypical chubby managers on the sideline who think that they’re Brian Clough or (Referee’s favourite) Sir Alex Ferguson. So why should we enjoy it? Someone needs to tell me pretty soon because I’m still stumped. Having said that, it’s being paid to keep somewhat fit so I can’t complain…

It’s a thankless job, really. But without those thick-skinned souls that brave all weathers to keep a watchful eye on sport, there would be no sport at all. How would the rugby players know when to beat the hell out of each other? Or when will the boxers know when to stop beating the hell out of each other? We would never know.

Of course, there is the odd moment when decisions go wrong. But rather than shout every naughty word under the sun to make your point heard, why not try to be civil for once? It would make our lives in the middle so much easier…

While I’m at it, to all those parents who think that your child is the next David Beckham or Lionel Messi; They aren’t. They simply aren’t. While you can give them the fake tan and copious amounts of hair gel to rival Ronaldo, if they’re playing with their mates on a Sunday morning with a team being run by a good-hearted parent, that’s probably hint enough. Putting it differently, you can say “You’re Fired!” all you want, but you aren’t going to become Alan Sugar. Please feel free to live your dreams through your unwilling children by all means, but think of the example you set when you’re calling the Official a “Biased c***”. Yeah. You know who you are.

Bitterness aside, Referees put pride and reputation at stake every time they step out onto the field for their respective sport. Be it from your local rec to Wembley, a field with sticks for goalposts to Twickenham, these games matter to the players and Referees alike. It means just as much to an Official to get a Cup Final as it is for a team to work their way into one. In conclusion, sport is for the enjoyment of everyone, not just the players. How would you feel as a player if you were being bombarded with abuse every time something happened that you didn’t agree with. It simply isn’t fair. Football can learn a lot from sports like rugby, the players are actually courteous enough to call the Official “Sir”. That’s why the FA’s Respect Campaign is so important for the future of football because very simply: No Referee, No Game.

 Myself with Howard Webb at a Referees’ Conference, November 2011

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One thought on “If my sporting words should ever go into history, let it be these: God Bless Referees!”

  1. I must say Henry, I am finding your work so far to be fascinating. I never thought that sport could be made in the slightest bit interesting, much less arousing. I must tell you there has been a few times where your writing has really got me going, if you know what I mean. Just hope my new bf doesn’t read this,*fingers crossed*. It would be a bad day for you if he did I’ll tell you 😛 But no dw about it, hes a softy really when hes not at work. But back to the subject at hand, I would really appreciate it if you started to do more political writing, I much prefer that to your sports stuff, even though it is good. Kind regards,
    your biggest fan ( in more ways than one 😉 ),
    Rita xxx

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