Since there was a cancellation the weekend before, I wasn’t active for a week. Hard not to be excited for my match appointment on Wednesday. Meanwhile my referee tan has returned. Tan lines on the arm and knees.
I was stocked up to be hydrated for match day.
U12 Boys Cup semi-final
One of the home team strikers always appeared to be in an offside position at opportune moments resulting in teammates passing to him and the whistle being blown.
The game had two obvious goal-scoring opportunities for the home team.
An attacker was fouled in the build-up while it was still a promising attack but I allowed the advantage. The goalkeeper was then able to save the one-on-one opportunity. I lost the initial offender once play had stopped but when I checked with the attacker who had fallen, he said that it wasn’t a foul and that he had tripped.
The second opportunity was a much larger threat on goal. The goalkeeper was faced with two attackers on a 2-on-1 attack. The defenders were too far behind to catch up as they had committed men forward for an equalising goal. I was already running deep in the diagonal so I had a great view of play and there was acres of space around. The attacker without the ball was running ahead of the attacker with the ball. As it came down to decision time when the goalkeeper had closed down the gap, the attacker decided to shoot. The goalkeeper saved and the ball rebounded to the attacker in an offside position. He tapped it in from 8 yards out and celebrated with his teammate.
Shrill blast of the whistle as I picked my Dolfin today. Hand raised and I moved to the location of the offence (I was almost in line with where the AR would have been) to make it clear the goal was overruled as the goal scorer had gained an advantage from being in his position; ahead of the ball. It was a few seconds before the cheers from the sidelines faded out and both attackers noticed my arm raised for the decision. Indirect free kick. After the game, the home team coach said he knew the call was right the moment the offside positioned attacker tapped it home.
The decision was almost redemption for me having missed a similar decision in my very first game on the same pitch as an assistant referee. Not redemption against a team or player but for myself for getting the decision wrong.
Moment of truth
In the 48th minute of the second half and two minutes before the end of normal time, the biggest moment of the game arrived. The away team were pressing hard for an equalising goal to take the game to extra time. It was 2-1 at the time. 21 players were in the attacking half. The away team lost the ball in midfield and the ball was played forward. The striker ran onto it and there was a mass of space ahead of him with only the goalkeeper about 50 yards ahead.
A defender slide-tackled and carelessly tripped him bringing him to the floor. There was a roar from the spectators and the home team. It wasn’t a difficult call to make but there was general outrage at the offence. I blew the whistle and sprinted to the spot. The attacker went down holding his legs. The defender went down as well in some discomfort. This was a young age group so I didn’t rush to misconduct. After checking both of them, I waved the coach on to check the attacker.
Cynical tackles on the cusp of DOGSO always receive this reaction. They are ugly and are a detriment for the game. They disrupt the attacking flow. You don’t forget moments like these.
- Neymar fouled by Arbeloa in the centre circle in the Confederations Cup final 2013
- Angel Di Maria fouled by Raul Garcia in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final on an early Real Madrid attack
A massive opportunity discounted to a yellow card and lost because of a simple foul. As the foul happens, it’s almost as though a drop of blood falls in shark-infested waters. The predators become on high-alert. The victimised team wants blood and it often wouldn’t matter what colour card is shown.
Minnesota SRC said that putting pressure on referees in this scenario is to distract them from the victim team’s own persistent offences. Perhaps in that context but I think that this is simply a different emotional scenario in football.
Back to the Game
Ref! That’s a red!
That’s at least a yellow!
As the coach came on to check on the player, I started moving backwards and beckoning the players away. They had all crowded around the fallen attacker who seemed to be in discomfort. I didn’t want the player’s breathing space to get constricted and get worse.
The players had come rushing in when the decision was made. Had this been an older age group, there would undoubtedly have been mass confrontation. Luckily it was just a group of surprised 12 year olds unsure of how to react.
As I moved away, I became furious with myself. I had lost the player who committed the foul. One of the “I’d like a wall nearby to punch” moments. It was such a rookie mistake to make. The players weren’t wearing jersey numbers either so I had nothing to identify him by. I took a good look at him right after the foul but had forgotten it in the frenzy and players I had to deal with.
Luckily, the players at the age group were innocent enough to just point him out and call him when I asked “I need to see the player who committed the foul” as I backed into a neutral zone. He came apologising and I told him he was being cautioned. Three of his teammates gathered nearby excitedly talking to each other.
We don’t normally get cards!
They were excited to see their teammate getting a card. A novelty I suppose.
Aside from the match’s climax, I was displeased at the threshold I set for throw-ins and what I accepted as foul throws and not at times. That was on my mind and despite getting the major decisions correct, I could only think about this.
The away team coach after the game said looking decidedly impressed.
You’re pretty fit. You kept up with play the whole time.
It was only 4.9km coverage that game since it was 50 minutes of football but I felt my hamstring beginning to twitch towards the end.
Saturday Premier League
These youth game double-headers are a work-out. Like the previous time, my muscles started pulling towards the end. It was my right hamstring this time. In the last 20 minutes of the second game, I statically stretched my hamstring at stoppages once every few minutes. The physical toll of officiating in this part of the planet has been completely different and more of a challenge. The lesson learnt so far is that I need to stretch my hamstrings better pre-game and improve my fitness.
Dealing with Injury
A home team defensive midfielder sat down on the floor while the ball was in play. When I noticed, I allowed play to continue. He was sitting up and not in apparent discomfort. The opposing team was in possession. They played the ball around but it was intercepted in their attack and it was the moment of truth. Would the player kick the ball out or continue? He continued and made the decision for everyone. The attack went with a sole striker to the other side of the field and after an away team defender careless shoulder-charge, the striker fell to the floor and the ball rolled over the touchline. I blew the whistle believing it was a foul and ran a few yards towards the offence to indicate the restart but then turned immediately to return to the injured player.
When I turned, the teammate who had continued play was yelling at me from the other side of the field. I was annoyed. Very annoyed. An away team midfielder chuckled and sympathised with me as I ran by.
He’s complaining about his teammate after he kept playing? Pffft…
In hindsight, I should have cautioned him for his outburst but it dissipated quickly.
I was on the turf field for both games and the assignor was at the field for the first time in the month. Both games went remarkably well. I was pleased with my performance as were the players, coaches and fans. A good day at the office. I felt like a piece of toast after so it was nothing but lazing and sleeping around for the rest of the day.
This game was the closest to the strongest form of match control and elite confidence I have had like Week 32 Sunday last year. I’m looking forward to exercising that in the future and getting more used to it.
More surprisingly, in over the last 1000 minutes of football, I haven’t been confronted with a penalty decision.