I firmly believe referees can’t play football because if they could they would, rather than undertake the most thankless task in football. Don’t get me wrong the referees that turn out to officiate at all games whether it’s a kids game or the top two in the premiership, do a great job. They do! if you don’t believe me try it for yourself, because there will always be 11 on the pitch bitching and moaning at you because your decision went against them. Plus their gobby bench, and then their poor old supporters who are kindly suggesting you should buy some spectacles. Believe me the mothers of the under tens can be as vitriolic and as foul mouthed as the cop as well. Without these brave and courageous people, football could not be played. Having played many a 11 a-side game without a ref it’s rubbish, there’s tons more cheating and the bullies generally rule, so at least thank them for turning up because your game would not have gone ahead without your lonely referee.
OK, now that I’ve given fair praise to the humble man/woman in black, I come to the point where the rubber hits the road, to the paid professional referee, the ones that make the multimillion pound decisions. These mountains of instant judgement can make or brake a game, a club or a managers career with just a simple blow of a whistle. The financial power of that small little wet pea is immense, so why are these people not ex professional players? People who understand what a fair tackle is, what a subtle push in the back can do, why a six foot two man can fall to the ground without physically being touched. Game in and game out I see blatant fouls missed that anyone who has played the game would be looking for and understand what is going on. A perfect example is the player running with the ball and being closely chased, the front player deliberately pauses in forward movement knowing the chasing player will bump them and hey presto the front player falls to the ground onto the ball claiming their foul. But what foul! the front player instigated the clash, and yet week in and week out the ref’s give the deviant their created prize. My belief is an ex pro would simply say play on! Surely there are many players who are injured out of the game early on who would make great refs, also retiring players, these guys are easily fit enough to become the man in black. Perhaps it’s the stigma of just being a ref that puts off ex pros, or maybe the mechanism for them to be fast tracked doesn’t exist… but I wish it did. I know I wouldn’t want my window cleaner to fly the jet I board for my holidays, and I wouldn’t want my plumber to perform open heart surgery on me, but I would want an ex professional footballer to be the ref who adjudicates my teams cup final. So come on FA work harder to keep their ‘insiders knowledge’ in the game, as I believe the game would be better for it.