Tag Archives: enjoyment

The Renegade Ref says Flexibility is the Key but being inflexible is sometimes a great trait!

Sometimes I have to see and listen, then I have to allow the seeing and listening to percolate in my grey matter (brain) and then I have clear picture of what I want to say.

Now this is okay if you have time to see, listen and think – you do not have that time when you’re refereeing on a Saturday afternoon, so you have got to remember what worked last time and employ it next time the same situation occurs.

If another situation occurs you have to rely on the training you’ve been given, sometimes this training is given out of the refereeing arena.

Take the Muamba incident at Tottenham’s ground versus Bolton (his club).  He was fortunate that he had his heart challenge surrounded by a massive group of medics (who had training on how to deal with a heart problem) and also the two referees were Chris Foy and Howard Webb (both police officers who knew how to keep their cool under intense pressure!)

As an aside the player was lucky that an eminent consultant cardiologist was in the ground watching the game and the steward allowed him on the field!

Why do I wander off to the realms of a player who had a heart challenge on a premiership field?


At A&H we believe in challenging your beliefs about refereeing so you have to think about different aspects of the game and by thinking about those aspects you’ll have introduced to your grey matter different things that will stand you in good stead when you don your kit and whistle and referee a football match.

In other words we aim to give you some training that could help your refereeing.

Now if you think you know how to referee and close your mind to other ways to think then you are consigning yourself to stay refereeing at the level you’re currently at – of course if you’re FIFA then that’s okay, except that they hold excellent training sessions with all their referees regularly!

So when we at A&H ask you to jump in a “correct” or “expected” box please shout at us “No I’m flexible”.  Because getting into either box means you could miss out on some of the joys of refereeing.

Please when you see the training we put on don’t think that Jeff or Jamaal or Jordan is in the camp we are representing; in fact, all three of us are flexible officials who know that to be successful sometimes you have to be inflexible and other times you have to be so flexible that you can touch your toes backwards.

So as we create training – including webinars – please make time to watch and listen to make sure that you have tools to become a better referee (and sometimes that is because you take what we say with a large pinch of salt!)

The Renegade Ref says “Get into both camps!”

As I grow older and I do more coaching of youngsters (well I call them all youngsters) I realise that refereeing is a without a doubt a thankless task. I knew when I was active as a referee that we could never win; now I know that more than ever.

What makes me so sure?

Did you see the rugby on Saturday morning on Sky Sports? The British Lions were playing the All Blacks in Wellington, New Zealand.  Right at the end of the show was a real demonstration of the thanklessness of refereeing.

At the end of the match – which the British Lions won by 3 points – the former All Black player (Sean Fitzpatrick) who was on the panel said he thought the referee did well; the former British Lion – whose name I do not know as he was a replacement for Ian McGeechan – disagreed with him!

The reason? The former Lion wanted the referee to allow the game to flow more.  The British Lions had won the test and the referee had sent a New Zealand player off for a seriously bad tackle. Yet, the winner wanted the referee to let it flow more!

Now here we have two former international rugby players who cannot agree whether the referee did a good job; what hope do you and I stand if international players cannot agree on the quality of the official?

So the simple answer is: Referee how you see fit!

In the office (to create a debate we’ve split into two groups: The “The Execute the Law” group and the “Give What the Game Expects” group.

Both have good arguments attached to them but I think the truth is that you should be a referee who can be in both camps at the same time – or for you intelligent referees: simultaneously!

Because if you’re in the Execute Group you will call the game off if there are no corner flags or the nets aren’t tied back correctly. If you’re in the What The Game Expects Group you could “miss” a yellow card because the players are mates, which could start the next world war.

Now being in both groups is not the easiest thing to do and you will still incur the wrath of some of the players whatever you do – but please get into both groups and have the ability to favour one group in the 1st minute and the other group in the 2nd minute, etc.

In other words: Be Flexible!


As the meerkat says: Refereeing is simples!

In other words: if you’re going into refereeing to become more popular – DON’T


I’ve seen two referees in the last 3 weeks who were both guilty of the crime – yes you’ve read it right – the crime of not getting close to the play, plus neither of them appeared to know that 100/1 shots do occasionally win.

Let’s start putting some flesh on “The Crime”.

Sometimes it’s committed because the referee is not fit enough, other times it’s committed because the referee lacks the awareness of “there could be a potential flashpoint so I’ll get closer to the action.”

FITNESS – The other Sunday when sitting in a FA Core meeting someone said “if they took a photograph of the teams would you be out of place in it?”

Looks are not a measurement of fitness, but our game (refereeing) is built on perception.  Do you look as fit as the players do? Actually, you want to look the fittest person in the photograph.

Then of course, you want to back that look up with fitness.  And here’s the kicker – we can all get fitter than we are now, it will not happen tomorrow but if we persist in our training – pushing it up bit by bit we will get fitter.

It’s the same as losing weight – if you lose an ounce a day, you’ll lose over 1½ stones in a year.

So take the longer view to fitness and just improve one little bit every time you run and very soon you’ll be giving Mo Farah a run for his money, presuming someone sponsors him to drink eight pints a day and he sticks to it!

Have a goal to either run a bit further in your training time or take less time to cover the distance you run for or make sure your heart rate remains the same over time but the run is getting more difficult.

All of the above will ensure that you are getting fitter.  And remember you’re not looking to win the gold at the next Olympics; you’re looking to gradually improve over time.

The next thing that creates “The Crime” is either laziness or lack of awareness.  If there is at least one player from the opposition near the ball, we have the potential to have a flashpoint.

99 times out of 100 the player with the ball will safely play it before the opposition get close enough to cause you a problem, but on that 100th time all hell will break loose and if you’re sitting in a deck chair on the half way line waiting for the ball to be played (along with the rest of the teams) your match control will be shot.

So always get close to the ball – even if it is obvious to everyone else that nothing will happen, this way you’ll increase the chances of nothing happening because you’re there.

That way, when it does happen you’re on top of it and even if it doesn’t happen the observer will/should say “nothing happened because the referee was there!”

On one of the games I was watching – the referee turned down a penalty but the team who would have benefitted had a legitimate shout at the referee because he was in the car park (in other words – he was not close to the action!), whereas they would/should have said “I thought it was a penalty but look where the referee was!”