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

The Renegade Ref says it’s all in the selling of it.

I was sitting watching the half time chat between Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright with the inward chuckle (well grimace) when our supposed experts misinform the great British public about what is and what is not the Laws of the game.  The game in question was West Ham United and Manchester City in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup.

This particular discussion centred around the West Ham player who was “wiped out” by the Manchester player, in the penalty area, crucially after he’d got his shot away. Gary (like you and me) thought it should be a penalty, whereas Alan and Ian subscribed to the view that as he’d got his shot away unchallenged it was not a penalty!

This creates problems for you and me on a Sunday morning when we correctly award the penalty!

You can hear the players shouting at you from here, saying such things as: “But Alan and Ian said it was not a penalty and they’re on the TV!”

This incident got me thinking about how to point out that you MUST deliver what the game expects; not what the Law states, if you want to be an upwardly mobile referee.

At our London FA training events we speak about good referees having on their tombstones the words “But I was correct in Law” and this is a good example. As a fellow referee (and observer) I will support you to the hilt if you give THE penalty but the clubs will be perplexed by the decision.

How do we sell the penalty when Alan and Ian have told us it’s not one?

That is the million dollar question we must answer if we want to get on!

But Alan and Ian are not all bad news for us – in fact this weekend just gone they – well Alan in particular – was like a refereeing brother to us!

Sam Allardyce came on the TV moaning about the fact that the referee should have stopped the play when his player was suffering with what looked like cramp.  We will ignore that the player managed to “struggle” back onto the field before signalling he was injured!

Alan came onto the TV and told us that Big Sam was wrong.  The referee can and should only stop the match for a serious injury. Well said Alan!

Now one suspects he’s got someone whispering in his ear – someone like an ex-FAPL referee – and that’s great news for you and me!  We can happily play on with the game because Alan has told the great unwashed it is okay to do so.

But let us go back to the unanswered question: how do we sell the penalty and push our refereeing forward?

We both know the correct answer is to give the penalty when the fouled player doesn’t score – if you’ve seen the challenge you have to give the penalty but in today’s climate it should only be a yellow card because the offender made an effort to play the ball.

And that has to be sold because Alan and Ian have told us that if the player got the shot away then we move to the next phase of play!  Sometimes Alan’s words leave us in a difficult situation – but as official’s we have to deal with it – but the important thing is to sell your decision to all those in the game.

Using such words as “I was playing an advantage” or “I was trying to keep the game flowing” are great selling phrases we can use to help sell our decision.

Obviously if the ball goes in the goal – that’s the simple job – give the goal and get back to the half way line unless the challenge leaves the scorer writhing in agony, which means you sort out the scorers injury and deal with the fouler as the game dictates.

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

If the games doesn’t expect it – you need to sell it and as if to underline that I asked my great mate Mark – who is a West Ham season ticket holder – who the player was who was fouled and he needed reminded of the incident because Feghouli (who was fouled by Clichy) had got his shot away and in Mark’s mind the referee had nothing to do as the error was the West Ham player who missed the goal!

The biggest comeback since ‘Ole Blue Eyes

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.”

Category: Blog, Newsletter