Parklife: Local football column

The referee has a crucial role to play

The referee has a crucial role to play

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A sunny Sunday on the coast provided a great example of co-operation.

With kick-off time only 10 minutes away, the visiting team manager was seen sprinting across the pitch, and proceeded to converse with the match referee in a state of some excitement.

He appeared to be pleading with the official over something that was 
clearly causing him some concern.

With a nod from the referee, the manager returned to the changing room with what appeared to be a somewhat relieved smile on his face.

All was revealed five minutes after the scheduled kick-off time when a car hammered into the car park, tyres screeching as brakes were applied, reminiscent of a car chase from The Sweeney.

Every head turned, expecting to see masked men leap from the vehicle, closely followed by the inevitable fleet of police vans and cars, in hot pursuit.

However, as the car emptied, no balaclavas were seen, rather three guys in various stages of donning a football kit.

They made a dash for the changing rooms to complete their hasty preparations, ran out on to the pitch some three minutes later, and the game kicked off eight minutes late.

This late arrival had clearly thrown the visitors. Fair play to the referee who had allowed the delay – it turned out that the team were travelling in a convoy of four cars, and 
the car in rear missed a turning.

Something still looked out of place though, and it soon became apparent that even though the kick-off had been held back, they only had 10 players.

A half-time score of 4-0 down did not help to raise their spirits, a final score of 9-1 even less so.

But they got there, and played their fixture. I suspect that some teams would have tried to avoid their game.

The day before saw a game in Central Lancashire, a curious affair, in that it was played with neither goal nets nor corner flags.

The nets had been forgotten – they were still in the manager’s garage – and the corner flags had been pinched from the changing rooms.

Again, a sympathetic referee allowed the game to proceed.

He adopted a position at corners that has never been witnessed before. He stood behind the goal.

There was much mirth the first time he did so, but then it dawned on those watching that, without nets, it was the best place to stand to rule if a goal had been scored or not.

And when the ball was cleared, he simply ran through where the net would have been. Great ingenuity!