A Referees View



An interesting piece which has been submitted to the blog by one of our serving amateur referees. 

While driving home from today’s fixture, I don’t know why, but I thought about The Gaffers View page. It got me thinking…why has a referee not stuck one in? Why have none of us fired in an opinion on the amateur game?

Who knows?

Well here is my view

All said and done, I’m a referee now and I love it! I’m fortunate even if I do say so myself because I’m decent at it,  I know I am because I take a mental note every time a team and coaching staff tell me “your the best ref we’ve had” and hand on heart there’s far more of those shouts than negative ones. Does that make me big headed? No, because I’d never tell my league or anyone for that matter of the praise I receive, I let teams make their own mind up.

I played youth football and dabbled with amateur all my life and I was good, very good. Sadly, illness put paid to my proper playing days.

I took a good few years out, I fell away from it and it didn’t bother me. I always played fives and I’d regularly get the same questions from the boys there,

“why are you not playing 11’s”

“come down on Tuesday mate”

“it’s a joke your sitting in the house”

One guy said to me one night “your winding me up man, are you a ref in disguise?”

It got me thinking though. The truth was that I couldn’t commit time to an amateur side, it had passed me by, teams were far too serious now. It’s fantastic for the boys involved but at the level I think I was at, I couldn’t justify it to my personal life. Two training sessions a week and the game every Saturday meant I just couldn’t do it. I’m full throttle when I am part of something and attending here and there was no good.

I then said to myself “I’m going to batter this ref’s course.”

I sent the email and waited…
and waited…
I then got a reply The course starts next Monday.
Ooft! We’re in!

What did I have to lose now? This will give me a wee look at what the ref’s get up to, I’ll hate it no doubt but the course won’t cost that much so feck it, I just won’t go back if it’s not for me.

Three weeks in and I was hooked.
It kept me involved, it was steeped in knowledge of the game and I loved every scenario we spoke about. Football, football, football.
I knew I’d be good at it. The course was full of young men that had never kicked a ball in their lives. They were shouting out answers to questions that would get you hung on a Saturday afternoon in Drumchapel!

I could see it though, feel it, I knew it.
Refereeing is simple, it’s all common sense. Football refereeing though, for all involved is hard. I’ve thought about the next line before I post it and I decided I’m going to say it, don’t get too shocked players….

Refereeing the amateur game is a human impossibility.

There, I said it. I’ll explain that bold comment shortly.

When your ref arrives, standard things always happen.
There is a quick hello to both teams

“any trialist?”
“What colour is your keeper in?”
“Give me a shout when your teamlines are done” the usual stuff.

The game then begins.

Let’s get it going, you toss the coin, count the body’s, start your watch, we’re off.

It’s a game of football, I’ve played, I’ve scored, I’ve won, I’ve lost, tackled and I’ve been tackled so I call it as I see it. Every thought possible runs wild in your head but you know it’s early days, just stay alert, try and pass the first ten minutes with no drama and call the first throw in right, lovely.

As the game loosens up, I feel it’s important I get a few things across. I don’t know how many amateur players will read this but if one player takes notice and in the next game he plays, he cuts his ref some slack, I’d be delighted.

Please, give this a thought….

EVERY SINGLE TIME I blow my whistle, HALF, YES HALF of the people there won’t agree. Please note, I didn’t say players, I didn’t say coaches, I said PEOPLE. Football is split, the ref can’t win. Nearly an exact half of every single human in attendance of that match will not agree with me, even though I may know I’m right. Why? Cause you want your f****** team to win! It’s natural guys, I’m a football fan, I want my team to win, it’s human nature.

This however, is where refereeing is explained…I hope.

I don’t care who wins. I may know a lot of the boys involved but I couldn’t give a monkeys who scores more goals and I don’t care who I’ve booked because I’m busy, I’m busy hoping my next decision does me, as a ref, justice.

So yes…

I know “there’s two teams on the park”
I know “I’m letting him speak to me like that”
I know “I’ve not given you anything today”
I know “I’m having a fucking laugh”
I know ” I’m having a fucking nightmare”
I know “I’m being paid for this”
I know ” he’s offside”
I know “that’s a fucking foul”

I’ve heard them all. We all have.

But lads, can you please let me remind you…

I’m concentrating hard and trying to be the best ref I can be.

You want an offside call right?

Ok, well here it is, what I mentioned earlier…

I’m watching the line, OK, I know your right back has the ball, OK, I know the opposition left winger is closing the right back down, OK, so when your right back lumps to your centre forward….

You want me to keep looking at your right back after he has played the long ball, you want me too keep looking because we all know the nippy wee left winger is going to lunge at him don’t we? However as well as catching that lunge, the opposition want me to call an offside against the rapid centre forward bearing in on goal don’t they?

Remember what I said about half and half.
I can’t, I just can’t see everything. I don’t have two pairs of eyes, I’m not super human but I tell you what I am, I’m a referee. I’m trying my best and I’ll be more specific on what I’m doing. I’m taking a punt. There, I just said that, I’m taking a punt.

Refereeing in amateur football and getting EVERY SINGLE CALL spot on, is IMPOSSIBLE.

Unless it’s slow and unless it’s as clear as the nose on your face, then yes, your ref is taking a punt lads. An educated and experienced call, yes, but it’s sometimes a total guess.


Because he’s pals with the other side?

Nah, he’s human and he’s alone.
He’s trying his very best, trust me.
It’s hard enough to quickly remember what way a team is shooting when awarding a throw in never mind calling an offside and a lunge at the same time.

I’m confident in my ability as a ref but, aye, I’ve had it all…

“That’s an embarrassing decision”
“You’ve never played the game”
“That’s why your a ref”

All this coming from someone, who I wouldn’t let borrow my old boots.

I take it though, we all tend to. Why? Because we’ve usually been there before. Not because we’re weak or because “I’ve bottled it” It’s because we’ve been there and we appreciate the passion in the heat of the moment.

Listen, I’m not stupid and I’m certainly not blinkered, I know we’ve a few belters, a few that might be in the latter stages of a glittering career and a few who might be shooting to the juniors and senior list in a fashion that defies belief but hey, we’re not all 6 stone and can referee 15 games a week but that’s not why I’ve written this. I’ve written this contribution because I want a favour.

I want you to go out in your next game and I want you to enjoy it. I want you to challenge the referees decisions in an adult fashion. I want you to accept what he says, where he points and how he sees it, why?

Because he’s the referee, it’s me, it’s your ref for the day. He started your game and he’ll finish it.

If he’s having a nightmare game then trust me lads, he won’t need reminding. Your criticism won’t help him. Suck it up, it’s not intentional or a personal attack on you.

It’s a thankless task and we all know that but please remember this…

The next time you feel the urge to chase the ref 30 yards up the park to contest a throw in on the half way line? Have a word with yourself.

Don’t let it ruin your game and remember one thing…

Yer man’s job is impossible.


Enjoy your season.

The Referee



3 thoughts on “A Referees View

  1. Wow thanks for taking the trouble to post that. I hope it makes a difference but….. One illustration from a game I was at on Saturday. I was in line with the defensive back line (i.e. linesman’s position) and in front of me was the away contingent. The referee made two calls within a minute, the first one was a run through the defence which was 3-4 yards on side which was given off, closely followed by a similar ball which was about 2 yards offside this time which was played on and resulted in a goal. You’ve guessed it, the supporters were deftly silent with the first and called the referee all the names under the sun for the second. Ok both decisions were wrong but as you say he was trying his best and called them as he saw them.


  2. Having been a ref for 26yrs most of the time in the North Jun’s and the Aberdeen Juv’s and retired 15 years ago at the age of 55. My favourite players comment was “ref your a Bastard” Correct, because on my birth certificate under Father was Unknown . It’s the only players comment that was correct. Still in fitba at a Highland League Club now at the age of 70. To all you ref’s out there, keep it up without us there would be no games and to all the players. You try and see how you get on!!


  3. The way I see it is a Referee is always going to favour one side over another, they probably won’t even realise they’re doing it. But if they are taking a ‘punt’ then there are certain things that will persuade them one which way to ‘punt’. A lot of these reasons will have nothing to do with the action that has just happened.


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