Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Its A Thankless Task Being A Referee

Whats the hardest job in sport? The Manager? Nope, The Chairman? Nope, The centre forward? Nope, The goalkeeper got to be the goalkeeper? Nope. No more guesses? Shall I tell you? The Referee. Yes that man who wears black and has his parenthood called into question every week, and then gets told he doesn't know what he is doing. Ah the life of a referee isn't a very popular one is it?.

To be honest though as much as Ive shouted at one as much as the next person, there is no way I would be one thanks very much. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps it does. The thing is though there is so much pressure on them to get it right first time that they have an absolutely thankless task. They have to make a split second decision in the heat of a game and not only that we expect them to get it right every single time. How many of us do our jobs and never make a mistake? None of us I bet. Yes sometimes they do get it horrifically wrong, England at the World Cup would be one of many examples but is it fair?

Are we expecting them to be superhuman and never get anything wrong? I think we are. There are some real shockers out there that struggle to follow the basic rules of the game but there are some excellent ones as well.  That gets forgotten doesn't it? How many times is the referee talked about after a game and its mentioned what a good game he had? Hardly ever. What does get forgotten though is that every time a referee gets surrounded by players in professional football whatever league its in this is then copied and repeated in football parks across the land by kids and adults. I have seen and heard some shocking things said to referee's in parks football. Then the managers complain that they cant get a get a referee to manager their games and you end up with a parent doing it and all the problems that brings.

I know Ive been there. Sunday morning football and having to referee a game and getting dogs abuse from both sets of parents and for what? £20 or £30? Is it worth it? We wonder why there is a lack of referees coming into the game and this is the reason why. There is always talk of ex-players doing the courses. Yeah right can you see Rooney or Terry being a referee? No me neither. I was always taught to respect the referee by the best Head teacher I ever had. His name was Ken Ashton. Those of a certain age will know who he is but those that don't here is a little history for you. He is the man that invented the Red and Yellow cards and was one of the most respected referees in the world.

As kids at school if any of us and I mean no matter how good a player you were talked back to the referee he would haul us off and that would be it. A bit extreme perhaps but it worked, we never talked back to the ref no matter how useless and incompetent he was. We were taught you just didn't do it. That's what is missing from today's game at all levels. Forget all the talk about technology and extra linesman the only way to sort this out and encourage more refs to enter the game is to show them respect. I know we had the respect campaign but it was an utter disaster, it worked for about oh 2 weeks, then it was forgotten about.

Personally I would like to see a mixture of what they have in rugby plus a little added extra. So if you argue with the ref over a decision you lose 10 yards at a free-kick. If you continue you are then sin-binned for 5 minutes. That would stop the crowding of refs by players trying to intimidate them. I would however allow the captain and the captain only to talk to the ref. If he makes an utter howler then when its reviewed after the game he will then be suspended for 2 games. That way its fair on everyone.

I am not a believer in a referee losing teams league titles and getting teams relegated. The players and the managers do that, not the referee, yes they will not give your team a penalty or a goal every now and then, but they will also do the same for YOU at some stage in a season. You have to remember that. It works out just about even over a season. So how about we give him a break every now and then? Its the one job in football that we could all do if we applied ourselves to it isn't, but its also the one job we wouldn't want to do as well.

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