It is 08.25pm on a Sunday evening and I’ve spent the weekend officiating. Not coaching – as I normally do – but actually officiating!
I started running the line on the Supply League in 1983 and yesterday afternoon I did another, it was more technical than I remember it. In the second half my attacking side seemed to be always chasing towards my goal-line.
Perhaps it was me feeling my plenty of years or they were in the ascendancy, either way I discovered some things that you have to do as an assistant in today’s game.
Firstly, you have to hold your flag more to ensure that the player in an offside position actually becomes the person who is offside. When I was a Supply League linesman the first time we simply had to give anyone who was even level with the second last defender offside.
Secondly, you need to develop a greater ability to make eye-to-eye contact with your referee just so when you’re indicating a possible offside offence the referee may decide to play on because of the interpretation of the Laws.
Thirdly, you must decide what is offside and stay consistent with your interpretation throughout the game. If I was to run the line again – and that’s a big “if” – that is something I would certainly bring into my game.
I felt a certain inconsistency with giving some offsides and not giving others. Somuchso I’d like to see a recording of some of the offside decisions I made because I felt they were inconsistent.
Playing the game again I think I’d give more offsides than I gave – only 1 or 2 I hasten to add – especially as I coach young officials that defensive free kicks go away but goals don’t! And with a flag in my hand I’m playing with the referees’ marks.
I’m talking about having a decision in my locker that allows me to be consistent with myself.
The Law states: A player is in an offside position if any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent. The hands and arms of all players, including the goalkeepers, are not considered.
Make no mistake none of my decisions were seen as “howlers” by the players or spectators but I didn’t have an “offside” or a “not offside” decision in my locker before the game started. If I line again I now have that decision.
So you can either be a “I must see clear daylight between opponents before I think about giving offside” assistant referee or “if I see the attacker only part in front of the defender I think about giving offside” assistant referee but you cannot be both for that match!
So two things that will be in my brain next time are “what is offside to me” and to remember “I’m playing with the referees’ marks throughout the whole entire match.”