Both of these games were quite interesting and I won’t divulge absolutely everything but the highlights.
Soooooo no assessment. Unfortunately. Didn’t have an assessor.
Nevertheless, the game was a good one and a battle for second place in the league; crucial given that playoffs were approaching quickly.
Speaking of playoffs, is that a North American (NA) thing? I have really only been into refereeing when I came to this part of the world and having watched one of the American football troll videos with the EPL, little did I realise that European leagues don’t really have the same thing other than qualifying for UEFA Champions League or the Europa League in the next season. It’s also important to note that playoffs is not the same as the league cup because there is something like that already in NA. I digress. Anyways…
I made the trip for the game starting out a little more than two hours before game time despite the field being not too far away. My companion, JVN, joined me for the 40 minute bus ride and 1.4km hike. The weather was quite warm and I regretted my decision to wear a tracksuit. I had survived all summer but this was one of the few daylight games I have had so it wasn’t easy managing in the heat. The lack of pavement, with gravel in some areas also made it hard to wheel my large bag. I had brought anything/everything I needed along as a back-up.
I walked the field and did a field inspection approximately an hour before game time; nobody but JVN and I were there. Everything was fine except for the goal posts which had to be shifted back onto the goal line since it was pushed back a few metres.
The rest of the crew and the players arrived shortly thereafter and we held the game up for five minutes for the away team to complete their starting line-up.
The game was an interesting affair. My decisions comprised of two penalty kicks and nine yellow cards of which two resulted in a send-off (both for USB tackles). Half my cautions were for dissent as I observed other referees take different approaches to match control and maintaining credibility and authority and so made sure I was firm as possible.
The game was by no means an easy one as goals were going back and forth both ways keeping it exciting and challenging right up until the last few minutes passion flared and I had to make a penalty decision upon the advice of my AR. I did get a fair bit of mixed feedback from the various referee “spectators” present at the game to reflect on.
I had a nice walk back with JVN to the bus stop we came from and chat on the way. It was a long day but a good game to reflect on.
This game followed all my exams so really there was nothing stressful on my mind and I was really looking forward to this milestone game. Like the previous, I had to leave a little more than two hours before but this game was in a different city in the region. I hopped on what was a long bus ride all the way south to Cambridge and reviewed my notes on points to improve on, practiced my pre-game instruction spiel and last but not least was nervous on the route and my connecting bus/hike from the drop-off bus stop.
The weather on the day was astonishingly brisk. On the way to my exam that morning my hair had froze because of the wind chill. Mid-August in what should be a warm day and we had almost sub-zero conditions. I was suited up with double jackets and my toque on this night.
All-in-all I made it to the field at 15 minutes to spare prior to kick-off. Late but there was little I could do to control it from that point. Something that pleasantly surprised me was the record time finish of my pre-game preparations which included my warm-up, pre-game instructions, ball pressure check, game sheets, chat with coaches (etc.) to end up kicking off on time!
The difficulty of this game wasn’t very high. I tried to let this game flow as much as possible and only had to stop it for approximately 6-7 fouls almost all being called in the second half of play.
Despite this, it was a fantastic game to practice positioning so I tried to anticipate play as best as I could and be in the position where I thought the ball was going to be but it was no easy task. Play appeared to threateningly move in one direction and I started to move to position but just as I was reaching there, the ball was lost and started moving in the other direction; instead of anticipating, I was left even further from play which was quite frustrating. This is something I have always been wary of; anticipating and getting slightly ahead of play to get to position.
Another great thing to practice was my S-diagonal so on runs by attackers on the far side of the AR, I would run around and deeper in the corner so that my panoramic view afforded me the view of my assistant referee on the far side as well as play moving towards goal. It worked up a lot of energy but was the perfect game to practice it. It was duly noted by the game assignor who was spectating and watching my game who mentioned it during halftime.
One item I was particularly pleased about was the teamwork I was able to set-up with this crew. As per my pre-game, I warned them that I would attempt to make eye contact with them to check if we were all on the same page during all odd times in the game and I was very pleasantly surprised to see them react before me in giving a thumbs-up everytime I turned my head. Definitely top-notch alertness and awareness that we should all strive to achieve.