Probably the most apt way to name this post given the recent weather.
I spent all of Sunday watching the incoming storm from the south west. Ok not all of Sunday but I opened the page every 5 minutes and watched its progress as the threat was posed to my game’s KO time. Imagine an 8pm KO with this on the way…
Hehehehe… Slim chances eh? Storm and wind warnings and what-not so I was prepared for the game and for the worst as well. I couldn’t help feeling excited for the game but disappointed at the incoming threat.
T minus 2 hours to kick-off I couldn’t think of anything but the game. Just before I decided that I wasn’t going to be productive anymore thinking about the game, I decided to get ready and head out early. Just before leaving though, a friend from Boston called me via Skype and kept me occupied for a while and I left home an hour before kick-off.
Just as I left the house, there was a flash rain and I rued the weather to come. I didn’t mind the rain but it was foreshadowing of the storm on te way. During the walk, I chatted over the phone with a colleague who had a finished a game elsewhere and was heading home at the time. He chuckled at my predicament and I joked that he should come enjoy the good weather and watch the game!
Soon enough I found myself at the facility and I strolled down to the field to see how the previous finals were going. It was raining just enough to be slightly uncomfortable. I had a quick exchange with the near-side AR just before the second half started to figure out how long left before the game was done and then returned to head back indoors. On the way I met both my crew members and we deposited our stuff just near the entrance of the “tunnel”. After a quick chat we discussed how we were going to go about pre-match duties. There were three games that night and I was to take the first middle for the Division 1 final. A few players had arrived as well and were getting changed a little further down from us. We decided to wear black long-sleeve as that was the only consistent colour we could all match on and because it was an appropriate choice. I dressed in my warm-up gear and all our organisers and equipment were splayed out over the physio table near the exit almost looking like a weapons arsenal! No weapons of course but one might think so when eyeing my Ervocom flag case.
I started warming up in the tunnel and did a few laps to get my heart rate up and to get the blood flowing and my muscles warm for the cold night to come. After some dynamic stretching exercises, I felt warm and started getting dressed with the rest of my uniform but not first before strapping on the Ervocom receiver under the three layers I was wearing (cotton black shirt, training shirt & uniform). I had to adjust the receiver twice but realised much later that it was far too loose for my liking as it would move a lot under my long-sleeve shirt and there was no way to adjust it in-game.
As we walked out the tunnel, the players of the away team near the exit seemed to look at us in awe as we were very organised for this game and pre-game preparations was above the norm for the league so it was noticed. I smiled because we had made a good first impression. The rain had slowed temporarily when we stepped out and we savoured it. The previous final had arrived at KFPM and a few minutes later we saw one team rushing out in typical fashion to surround their goalkeeper after his save.
We chatted briefly with the previous crew and then proceeded to get things under way for our own game. Captains came to the middle for the coin toss, we reminded them that they were playing a final in a recreational league and that there was absolutely no material gain in winning. They both laughed and said they hoped to remember that during the game. We concluded the coin toss and after a quick net check, I looked at both sides of the field to do the final count/inspection. The wind was picking up and I blew the opening whistle looking forward to the next hour of football.
The game was quick and technical. Both teams showed that they deserved to be in the final with the best game play of football the league had to offer. I used this game to work on my top three feedback items, my S-diagonal to improve panoramic view of play, a drawn out whistle before showing a card to clearly communicate that discipline is coming (especially on retroactive incidents) and finally body language as on this night, voice was of little use with the howling wind and rain.
I definitely tried my best to anticipate play but sometimes it was so back-and-forth that I felt I was doing more work by anticipating than my usual reacting. There were two instances of dangerous play that I had to caution for as they posed a serious risk of injury but no contact was made. One a direct “studs-up” tackle and another being a lunge. Man management was the order of the day with a variety of calls having to be made. There was even one instance of the ball being shot towards goal and the wind stopping it in its tracks and propelling it backwards! My referee badge was drenched in the end and the white had darkened. That was really the only tell tale other than my face being drenched.
In the final minutes of play in the third minute of injury time, I had just started blowing the final whistle when an opponent carelessly pushed the player in possession of the ball who fell down. In an unorthodox manner, I started sprinting to get to the spot while finishing off the final whistle before blowing the whistle a few times rapidly to diffuse any end-of-game fight. It diffused and the game ended on a good note.
We got a one hour break in between the games because one of the teams didn’t show up which was a great opportunity to recover from the crazy conditions. Both teams had respected the job of the officiating crew and our performance in the game and respectfully bid us farewell. We returned indoors and headed straight for the changing room facilities where we used the drier to dry as much of our clothes as possible and to warm up a bit. We discussed the match incidents of the previous game and I spent a bit of time practicing my flag work in front of the mirror getting my fellow crew members to take a look every now and then.
Soon enough we headed out for the final game for the night and the rain had abated but the wind not so much. Relatively speaking, the weather was better but no walk in the park by any means. The last game was a quieter game but the final time I was to work in an outdoor game with one of my crew members who had started in the league before me even!
We took some photos of the crew before leaving and finally one shot I planned to take for a while (I’ll keep that a secret here). Regardless it involved my Ervocom flags and before I knew it, a gust… No, a squall? Actually a gale. Na, it was definitely a typhoon. It swept through and launched my belongings up into the air. Would you believe my luck that despite putting the flag case in front of my large trolley bag, it was thrown up and having been open, the contents flew all over. My buddy reacted much faster than me and managed to grab a few things before I realised what was happening and I started sprinting after it. It was even worse seeing the individual parts fall out and then fly all over. It had travelled a good 40 yards over a hill when I managed to grab the instruction manual and then leave it before diving on the case and a pair of screws. Definitely an interesting experience and when I looked at everything, I was missing a few small pieces for a flag and a set of screws.
It was a long night but one I’ll miss. We had luckily dodged the lightning of the storm allowing all the games to be played without suspension.
I returned the next day despite the strong wind still blowing and little chance in finding anything. The unsuspecting photo doesn’t represent temperature/wind unfortunately.
I scoured the field vicinity and 15 minutes later thankfully found…
Luckily I was able to contact the manufacturer and request the missing parts. Luckily it was only from one flag. Pieces pictured below.
It’s hard to see in the photo below (unfortunately my camera can’t capture it) but it was hailing.
A few days later, more snow falls and the outdoor season is done for 2013. Withdrawal will begin soon.