I received two text message from young referee on Sunday night in my role as appointments officer for the Peterborough Sunday Morning League.
One told me he’d sent a player off for calling him the nastiest swear word of them all.
The other told me he’d witnessed his first Sunday morning head-butting. He made it sound like he expected there to be more occasions of extreme violence and he’s probably right.
The two referees concerned are outstanding prospects. I’ve seen them both in action and they possess the maturity and ability to go a long way in the game. One is 17 and already officiating at step five level.
But will they keep going? I hope so, but I have my doubts. There is only so much abuse one can take. There is only so much physical violence one can watch.
I worry because players and managers don’t want to accept any responsibility for their actions. Many believe referees are there to rule in their favour and turn a blind eye to blatant cautionable offences and obvious red card behaviour. I guarantee that any referee who issues sanctions, no matter how correctly, will be marked down by clubs.
And while managers and players can’t admit faults that are obvious to the intelligent and fair-minded, a solution will never be forthcoming.
I must say that at this point that the vast majority of managers and players in the Sunday Morning League create no problems, but it only takes the idiotic minority to ruin it for the rest.
The teenager who was verbally abused last weekend was subsequently criticised on social media for ‘being too young and inexperienced to take charge’ of his game.
The game in question was a Sunday morning Division Three match, a standard I’d still cope with at the age of 53 with my dodgy back.
If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable, but this is the level of ego and dim-wittedry that stands in the way of progress. Incidentally the player’s club has a history of marking referees poorly no matter what their age or experience.
Surely officials and players get up on a Sunday morning for the same reason? To enjoy a game of football.
There’s no prize money, there’s very little honour and yet some teams think it’s okay to turn up late, smelling of alcohol, before spending 90 minutes blaming the referee for every mis-placed pass, shanked shot and dozy piece of defending.
It’s true. The above happened to me this season with most abuse coming from a chubby ‘keeper who couldn’t catch a cold.
The sheer ignorance of the laws some players possess never fails to astound me.
I know of several superb referees (we are lucky in the Peterborough area to have a great trainer/mentor in Robert Windle) who have jacked it in already as a £20 fee is not worth the hassle and abuse.
It’s just a thought, but maybe the actions of park footballers in a referee’s formative years are part of the reason why average performers like Uriah Rennie and Lee Mason end up taking charge of top level games.
The more talented have quite possibly been driven out of the game by foul-mouted and violent idiots.