If last week was busy, this was the craziest of the past four years. Not really refereeing-related. I didn’t sleep three nights this week which was brand new to me. Do I say I’m busy every week? I hope not because this one was really busy.
Only two games were scheduled for this week but negligible travel.
The crew was coming from a ways so while they were travelling, I had my pre-match meal, did a job interview and finished writing a paper. They picked me up early and the drive down the road was funny given that it was almost no distance at all but nice to arrive together and for me to chat with them before arrival.
The weather was quite chilly. We stood outside watching the prior game for a bit before heading back inside. During the warm-up, the wind was hitting us hard so it was difficult to sweat or feel warm after a lot of running but we did manage to get muscles moving and “unlocked”.
Nothing much happened this game of significance that I could remember. My mentor was watching and gave the referee, who was a little less experienced, a few tips.
Derby match. I had the rental car for the weekend so I made the 750m drive down the street again. Something about that felt fancy.
It’s not many games where an AR gets more attention than a referee but this was one that I was in the spotlight. The coach for the away team knew me by name and for some weird reason, the entire Womens’ team too.
It was a cool night and I was the only person on the pitch out of 25 electing to wear short-sleeve with no compression shirt underneath either. Chilly but nothing a good brisk run can’t solve. Everyone else seemed to be finding the weather less than pleasant but I was looking forward to the game so it was a fleeting thought.
The first big decision of the match came in a short time. Corner kick whipped in. Ball cleared out. Shot on the ground back in. Two defenders were on either post and this one was heading for the right post. I was right on the goal line. The defender tried to clear but leaned back and he was falling back into the net scooping the ball with his foot. The ball had made it all the way. I raised the flag in a natural mechanic. I was surprised how fast I reacted myself. I turned to look over to the referee. Play was continuing but a few people were wondering if it had gone into the net. He looked over to me. Blew the whistle long and hard. A deft point to centre. Goal.
I ran down the touchline. My intention was to draw out dissenters although running as far as I did landed me in front of the benches. The captain came after me right out of the penalty area and must have travelled 40 yards. I heard a few choice comments but I knew this player and the away team coach so I chuckled at the abuse taking nothing personally before resuming to take up my position for the restart.
An offside decision soon followed later in the game. I was standing in line with the SLD and after the ball was kicked, two attackers emerged forward. There were yells for offside but I kept running. The ball was shot at goal and went out for a corner from the goalkeeper’s save. A goal was scored off the ensuing corner kick a minute later and the bench looked to blame me for the offside decision. The one time where not seeing a player means they are innocent.
A few members of the crowd started shouting at me “You had one job! One job!” I couldn’t help but enjoy the comments. It almost became like last week again although for some weird reason, my name spread around the field like wildfire because everyone was referring to me by name. Crowd, team officials, bench. It provided half the entertainment in the game. There were some random times when the crowd was cheering my name as well. It sounded like more of the Womens’ team but I didn’t have time to turn around and see who it was.
Sometime during the first half, I started hearing “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” from the crowd. Wondering what it was, I glanced back. Just a couple of ducks. Wait what? Ducks? There was no body of water nearby… They were just 5-7 yards behind me. They were walking towards to pitch so I was afraid that they would walk on and get trampled. I tried to divert my patrol path and direct them away. Thankfully they did but a part of the game they wanted to sit right by the touchline and I just ran right around them the one time. After all, I was trying to avoid any stoppage that may occur as a result.
The last important decision of the game was when the away team were mounting a comeback. An in-and-out offside left a few people confused although all the referees and referee spectators were quite well aware of what had happened.
Here’s my take-away:
- Perception of authority in the game; quicker signalling
- Staying closer to the SLD
I met a colleague over the weekend to give him some referee equipment that he had asked for. It had been a couple of months since I last met him so it was nice catching up. Only three games left.