Category Archives: Blog

The Renegade Referee says Ask Yourself What The Players Want

This close season I’ve been struck by the number of referees who do not appear to be willing to referee differently and, in my opinion, will only get promoted because it is their turn.

Now this could be because that is the personality of the referee or the personality of their referee coach or they are just scared to put themselves out there for fear of failure.

The personality of the referee is important when it comes to how high they will climb in refereeing circles.  If they are scared of failing then they will not risk trying anything new on the field, and this could leave them stuck where they are.

Remember the old saying: if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got!

Read this again please because it is important in refereeing and every part of your life.

Of course, when as a referee you do try something new and it comes off for you then that will become the norm for you as an official.

So if you want to get on – try something new and see what the reaction is.  New means something acceptable to the game (I don’t mean refereeing naked or using profane language or etc, etc, etc!)

What could you do that’s within the spirit of the game? Like commentating out loud or playing on even if a player has been pushed slightly or allowing free kicks to the defence to be taken from anywhere in the defending third – but remember every defending kick must come out of the penalty area!

I read this newsletter out to our resident referees and the level 5 wanted me to change the defending free kick placement to within 5 metres of the offence!

But if you listen to footballers – they seem to want to get the game playing as soon as possible (unless they’re winning with two minutes to go).  In this example, as the referee all you need to ensure is the side taking the free kick are not taking it from the wrong place to “take out” the opposition.

Get the game going as soon as possible in the defensive third is a good thing to try, but remember that if you get the ball correctly placed then you are being correct in Law, therefore an observer cannot mark you down (but the clubs can!)

Then we move onto the referee coach – their ideas about your role will influence how you referee.  If your coach has officiated or played at a higher level they will coach you in the ways that they wanted referees to be at that level; if your coach was always on the parks as a player and/or a referee they will want you to referee differently.

Neither is right or wrong – but the simple thing is to understand where they are coming from and ask yourself what do you want to achieve?

The most important thing is to adapt your officiating to the level of football you are officiating at – generally the more skilful the player or team – the more they want you to keep the game flowing.

I maintain that observers will simply watch your level of empathy and control of the players and ensure that you are giving the game what it expects.  So before your next game ask yourself: what do the players expect from us as the officials?

The Renegade Ref says it is not black and white!

Recently a member of the A&H staff published a Law question which I’ve repeated below.

“Sergio Aguero takes a penalty. Before the penalty is taken Gary Cahill encroaches. Aguero’s penalty hits the post and Aguero gets to the rebound first. Cahill then clears the ball off of the line, over the crossbar and out of play.

The referee must:

  1. Award a corner kick
  2. Send off Cahill for DOGSO
  3. Retake the penalty
  4. Award an Indirect Free Kick to the defence for a double touch

Now there are two answers to this question!

The question is: What MUST the referee do? And the answer is obviously 3) Retake the penalty!

And that is a great question, with the correct answer.

But what do the teams expect if Cahill has “only” encroached by a metre? The answer to us as active referees on pitch 7 of the local rec is 4.

Teams expect that a small encroachment is no encroachment; therefore the double touch is the only offence, in their minds, that has been committed.

Even that will need some explaining to the great unwashed because as seen on Sunday in the international rugby match (England versus Italy) players don’t know the Laws!

If we say that refereeing is about delivering “no surprises” then we give them an Indirect Free Kick for the touching it twice before anyone else has, if we say our job is to teach them the Laws then we have a retake for the encroachment!

Now this is an extreme example and we wouldn’t dream of doing anything like this, would we?

But what happens with throw-ins in our games?

The Law states that the ball must be thrown back in where it left the field of play – do we enforce this or do we allow the players to take the throw-in where all of the players expect it from?

In other words for throw-ins do we go with answer 4) rather than 3)?

What about the simple Law about the goalkeeper can only hold the ball for 6 seconds and us applying that or where is the correct position for a defensive free-kick when both sides want to get on with it?

It is us applying the practical over the technical, isn’t it?

And that’s the real joy of refereeing, learning what we have to do in all situations to keep the game moving along to a fair conclusion as far as we’re concerned and as far as the players are concerned.

The Renegade Ref says “It’s the small things that count!”

I ended last week’s newsletter with the immortal refereeing words:

I guess the thing that will stand you in good stead is knowing that all decisions need to be sold all of the time.”

But that is only the start of it!

Two seasons back I went to watch a referee who was in the shake-up to get promoted and at the same ground a couple of weeks later I went to watch a referee who was in the “be careful, be very careful” category.

The first referee did get promoted at the end of the season and the other referee was “very careful” and is still on the list.

After watching the first referee strut his stuff – extremely well – I turned up to the second match thinking I was going to witness a train crash.

I didn’t witness any such thing – our “endangered” referee put on a very good performance, somuchso I could not understand why he was where he was on his merit list.

Now of course I may have been lucky and seen him on a good day, but I suspect not.

The difference between the two was how they went about selling their decisions and themselves.  Which leads me to talk about the silly things that you and I don’t give a second thought to.

Such as: your e-mail back to the club secretary; the time you arrive at the match; your method of announcing that you’re there; your reading of the League Rules and your application of them, etc, etc.

This week I want to talk about the referee who turned up at a game and he had shoes that could do with a lick of polish and trousers that could have been improved by looking at a press plus of course, wearing a tracksuit jacket at the wrong level does nothing for how your refereeing is perceived.

I’m not kidding here: club secretaries will make their decision on your performance on how you present yourself to them.  The home club person will be so busy running the ground they will barely have time to see your performance.

Our referee who got promoted opened the door to the Club Secretary, whereas the other referee just shouted out “come” when the door was knocked by the secretary.  Now maybe it didn’t change a thing – but why run the risk?

Make sure that you treat everyone with respect and dignity, make sure you have clean shoes, football boots, kit and outdoor clothes and make sure you look correct at the level you’re officiating at.

If you turn up at Hackney Marshes in a tuxedo or at Old Trafford in a pair of swimming trunks you are asking for the secretary to mark you badly!

Think about how you’re perceived by everyone, ignore what your peers are doing and you should make it to the very top!

Oh and I forgot to mention: remember to look well groomed! I would say clean shaven but if you’re sporting a “full set” it doesn’t need to be shaved off, but two days growth looks like you couldn’t be bothered.


Category: Blog, The Renegade