Season Review

Well my season has been over now for a few weeks and its good chance to have a quick look back.  When I look back at the season I feel it was a bit of a lost season but when I look back properly it was really a roller coaster year.

If I look at the start of the year those opening months were great.  I was lucky enough to Referee in an FA Cup Qualifier, as well as do a live game on Setanta.  Thrown into that some County Appointments, and FA Cup 3rd Round Qualifier and a Trophy game and there is a lot to be happy about. 

However if I start to look back at the season from January onwards i feel it was a bit of a disaster.  I was lucky to be at Hinckley on New Years day.  However it all went wrong from then on, I injured my ankle and I put myself under pressure to get back in action.  I think looking back I may have come back to soon, It wasn’t until April that I was really running pain free on it, and this showed in my games. 

Going into the season I didnt feel at my sharpest, as i mentioned at the start of the season i had been traveling a lot and hadnt got the training in to give me a solid base.  I think i felt this all season and while I cant account for the ankle inuryI feel it was one of the worst for feeling niggles & muscle pulls.  With having 6 weeks out through the ankle, i felt that i never really regained full match fitness.

From a promotion point of view I was disappointed that i moved from a B Banding at the start of the season to an position of 73 out of 106 officials (Band E!).    However I wasn’t surprisedthat It had gone down from 56 in the mid season.    With losing Jan & Feb I never had a chance to crawl any marks back.  However on a positive note I finished 16th (Band A) out of 106 on Assessors marks so something must be going right.

The season is now in the past and I cant change what happened.  I think the way I will look back on it is focus and take motivation from the positives and learn from where i feel things went wrong.   I’mgoing to use the summer to get the ankle back to full strength and get the fitness back to where it should be.  Ive set myself some goals for the summer.   Next season i looking that it will have a different feel to it as there will be a new league in the East Midlands that will be a merger of some Senior League & Central Mids clubs.  Where im based I am prime positon to be moved across to this new league, so who knows what August will bring.

All Done

I received a phone call on Friday telling me I would be assessed on Saturday.   Wow not seen one for 5 months and i get two in two games!   I left home to ensure I got to the ground in plenty of time, however due to the fact that City were at home.  It took me nearly 40 minutes to do the last 2 miles to St Andrews.  However as I had left home Early i was still on time.

One of my assistants was running late due to the traffic but I knew he was coming and as he had come a similar direction to me I knew what problems he would have faced.  The assessor was there in plenty of time and wanted to listen to the prematch.   We had some interruptions prior to the game which I wasnt happy about and caused everything to be very rushed……but that’s for another post.

We kicked off and im not sure quite why but it took me a good 30 minutes to get the flow of the game.  I seemed to be mentally reacting slowly.  However it all settled down and I got into the flow.  Unfortunately the game despite being end to end didn’t really do so.

There was lots of pulling and pushing going on and difficult to take action against everything as it mutual fouling.   Also whenever i played an advantage they wanted a free kick, whenever I gave the free kick……………………….

After about 30 minutes I gave a free kick against a St Andrews player for a simple push.  The response was my numbers 10 and my name is (XXXX XXXX) if you want to get it out of the way and book me.  It was a simple free kick, but i didn’t want to be in polite…….silly caution.

Just before half time I thought oh no not again.  Attacker beat 3 defenders who were giving chase, broke into the penalty box and had a shot but then got taken out by a late challenge.   Penalty and yellow card.   He had his effort but it was still a foul but I was happy that it wasn’t DOGSO in fact the only person to suggest so was Mr Assessor afterwards!!

However one of the management team from St Andrews felt that he wanted to suggest that I had only given the decision as the assesor was there.  Unfortunately he went to far and was asked not to return to the technical area.

Just after half time I awarded a penalty to St Andrews for a push in the box.  The player who committed the foul thought that he would continue to complain to long and ended up with a caution as well.   He wasnt the only one with a 3rd player cautioned for dissent in the last minute.

The game itself though was end to end and must have been great for a spectator with it finishing 3-3.  However I felt that the two teams were in that end of season mode and werent really interested in listening or being managed.  An example was midway in the first half, a player was tripped behind my back.  I saw him fall and then my assistant flagged.  I wasn’t sure what happened and moved in closer to my assistant.  Who then instructed me that there was a foul, but in fact he had flagged for offside just before.  The players thought I had guessed the decision.   I have to admit i got a bit frustrated in the fact that they wanted an answer, but my answer was incorrect when I explained what had happened. 

Saturday was my last game this season.  Short of picking anything else up now that’s me done for the season.  

Active/Inactive

Saturday took me to Arnold for their league game vs Hallam.  When we got to the ground I was surprised at the pitch.   It was very heavy and while not in doubt it didn’t need a down pour.   To be fair to Arnold though they had one more league game after this before they move to their new ground up the road.

This did mean the touchline I had was very heavy but I didn’t make life easy for myself as I could really have done with my long stud’s but didn’t think after the last couple of weeks it would be quite so bad.   Bad preparation!

The conditions didn’t really allow for a great game to be played, however both teams gave it a decent shout.   One thing that did stand out was that I don’t think ive given so many offsides in a game for a long time. Were not talking close active/inactive offsides here but yards off.

However you can guarantee the one that leads to a goal wont be a simple one.   Hallam were on the attack played the ball through and player in an offside position is not active, he stands his ground does not move for the ball so play continuities.  Goes to a team mate who runs 30-40 yards down the pitch puts the pass in……………to the non active player.

Now I’m sympathetic to the players but play has moved onto to the next phase of play.  I get some dissent from the defenders, nothing major though.  However the technical area were supportive and had no issues.   Hallam scored a 2nd just after half time to win 2-0

To be fair there has been a lot of talk this around respecting Referee’s.  The Arnold technical area were one of the best ive come across for a long time.   A couple of decisions I gave I expected some comments, and when I flagged for an offside against an Arnold player and he questioned it.  They said to him from their position he looked offside.

Next game is Rocester vs Strattford in the MFA on Saturday.

Easter Game

Friday was the first game on the line since I had returned from Injury.  I was obviously a bit nervous how it would hold up, especially with the game between Ilkeston & Eastwood being a real local derby.

 Early on with Ilkeston taking a surprising 2-0 lead, and the Eastwood defence playing high up the pitch.  It meant a lot of quick reaction sprinting and meant I was straight into the game.  Early on in the first half we had a delay for an injury to the keeper.   Whilst making a save he took the shot under the chin which knocked him out.   He looked like he was going to be unable to continue however decided he was going to carry on.   However from somewhere he pulled out of the bag one of the best saves Ive seen in a long time from the restarting corner. Ilkeston went in at half time 3-0 having capitalised on a defensive error near the half way line and running through one on one with the keeper. 

There was two incidents in the second half.   An Ilkeston player was caught with a challenge right in front of the benches (sods law that).  The players started to move in and we had a situation where there was a lot of players around making comments about the challenge, and also acting as piece makers.  Given the proximity to the bench it meant they became a bit involved as well trying to calm things down.   It ended with a caution to both sides. 

Then in the last minutes of the match the Eastwood keeper brought down the Ilkeston striker when running at goal.  The striker had knocked the ball wide and would have had a lot of work to do.   Definite penalty but not a clear scoring opportunity.  Yellow card, and Ilkeston scored from the Penalty.     

Not a great day

In the last 13 years Ive probably sent off two players prior to March for Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity.   In the last two games Ive had to do this twice.  Last week with the keeper tripping the player and this Saturday the Birstall defender took the attacker down after just 13 minutes.This was great timing as 5 minutes before I had awarded a penalty against Birstall for a defender pulling the attacker down as the cross came into the box.  I was really getting a feeling that today wasn’t going to be my day. I had this feeling when at 2pm I had three assistant referee’s.  I had been told during the week that one had been replaced and knew no more than that.  It turns out the league had replaced him after he had failed to accept fixtures.  He didnt cause me a problem but really I should have had a feeling it was going to get no better.So 13 minutes in to the game I’m getting a considerable amount of dissent.  I try to manage this without being so over officious and make a point of talking to the players and working through the frustration.   I end up cautioning another Birstall player for a strong challenge in the first half.  With the score at 2-0 at half time to Ibstock, its clear that im the brunt of frustration.During the 2nd half after giving a free kick to Ibstock out wide by the assistant I end up cautioning two Birstall players for dissent.   I was disappointed with this as I had said to the two captains before the game that if you work with me ill work with you.  However I felt that all game it was one way.   The game was really end to end, and Birstall pulled the score back to 2-2.  When this happen I found that their approach towards me changed and if tried to play and advantage for example, they were more receptive.  Something that occured during the 2nd half that really annoyed me, was I spotted a Spectator with a  pitbull dog.   The dog had a muzzle and he sat in the away team dugout.   The ball bounced near the dog and the owner had to pull it back.  I asked the individual to move and I was told do F**K off.   He moved and I said to club, i take it he is a club official.  I was told not I said in that case i strongly suggest you keep him out of your technical area for the rest of the game.   Why though was he allowed in the ground with this dog.  Its not parks football.The game ended up 3-3 and the ankle held up better than the week before, however the last 20 minutes I was blowing a bit to be honest and its amazing how quick you lose the fitness that it takes a while for you to build up.Next game is this Good Friday (never had a game on a Good Friday before) at Ilkeston in their local Derby vs Eastwood.

Normal Business Resumed

Saturday saw my return to action and well it was like id never been away!   A sending off, 3 cautions and a bit of set to in the technical area!

Although the ground is more enclosed than some at this level, the wind was still a problem through out the game and made 9 0n 5’s a bit awkward at times.    On the whole though i tried to let the game flow as best I could and tried to bring the ball back if the advantage from the lose ball wasn’t going to pay off.

The game itself was enjoyable to referee.  Some of the players gave me something to Referee and I ended up cautioning a Bolehall player for persistent infringement.  Id spoken to him earlier and when a Heather player went to go past him  he held on to him.    Whilst I was issuing the caution there was a problem in the technical area.  I understand from my assistant that something was said between the two dugouts and it provoked a reaction from one of the members.  It was all controlled very well by my assistant and I didnt need to take any action.

A few minutes after this a Heather player broke through the Bolehall defence and was brought down in the area by the Goal Keeper.  As I blew for the penalty I noticed at the same time my assistant was also flagging for the offence, so this was a great bit of confirmation for me.  In my opinion it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity’s and I dismissed the goal keeper from the field of play.  It was quite similar to the Man Utd one at the weekend but less central.    There was the age old suggestions of he wasnt the last man etc, but unfortunately that is not a factor.

About 10 minutes later I had to caution another Bolehall player after he deliberately blocked off a Heather player who was making a run.   Then in the last minute a Heather player was flagged offside.  I shouted to him to keep quite, you are winning 4-1 and there  is a minute to go.   A few seconds later I watched him go over to the assistant and carry on his dissent, so he was cautioned.  

Heather had come from a goal behind to win the game 4-1.

I wasn’t to happy with the ankle as it didnt quite hold up as well as id liked.  However the pitch was very firm and i put my astro turf trainers on, however it never really eased up and I was a bit disappointed by this.  Its actually still a bit sore 3 days later, and im hopeing it will ease up ready for Saturday.

Rained Out

Rain!I actaully lost 2 games yesterday.   I was due to Referee Birstall vs Ibstock in the Senior League, but this was off as Ibstocks county quarter final was washed out the weekend before.   However the Referee for that game wasnt available for the rearranged game so I picked it up.

However at 11.30 yesterday morning it was called off again due to water-logging and will now be played next weekend.   As this is our senior competition i am on this game and will no longer make the trip to Arnold on Saturday.