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FROM THE MIDDLE: How Binfield FC taught me a refereeing lesson

When I started refereeing, I kept a record of all the clubs I visited in a little note book.

I recorded how to get there, time it took me, my traveling expenses. In those days we claimed a fee and travelling expenses.

Mostly these days it is just a fixed fee in local football. On receiving an appointment, I could simply check the information if I had been there before. That is what happened when I received an appointment to referee at Binfield.

I arrived there an hour or so before kick-off. However, there was no one there and no goal posts, I hung about thinking perhaps someone would turn up.

Then I wandered around the village to see if anyone could help. It’s funny how you hardly ever find anyone walking around a village.

I eventually came across a man who told me they had moved but he didn’t know where they
now played.

I couldn’t start knocking on doors, so finally I went into the pub where thankfully, someone gave me directions to the new ground. By the time I got there, the game was well under way, being refereed by one of the club officials. I got changed in a hurry, and somewhat flustered took over refereeing the game.

But I was awful and no doubt the players wished I had never turned up,

That eventful trip to Binfield, taught me that to give your best when refereeing, you need to be in the right frame of mind.

It makes me check everything. These days, clubs contact their referee in most competitions and so
I make sure I cover everything with them.

I have a special checking routine of my kit before leaving. On arrival I try and meet the club officials and of course inspect the pitch.

Then I follow the same ritual as I do every other week, until I walk out on to the pitch, calm, relaxed, and ready for the game.

In a book I read recently by Stuart Carrington, on the psychology of refereeing, he called it ‘pre-performance’. I call it ‘learning from experience’.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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