These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Monday, October 27, 2014

WHO WOULD BE A REF

Printed in the Southern Premier League match v Paulton Rovers on Saturday 8th November 2014. We won in a monsoon 4-2 in front of 275 people.

 It wasn't on par with the chaos that ensured when a drone appeared on the pitch in the Serbia v Albania game, but if John Tebbit says he's never seen anything like it, you know its something that is thankfully really out of the ordinary.

As players and officials went off at half time at Banbury with Slough winning 2-1, some idiot decided to hit the ref with a half full bottle of water from 2 foot away. This led to the ref abandoning the game, van loads of police being called and headline news. 

As disappointed Rebel fans dispersed I just wondered why anyone would want to be a ref. Well Ian Lathey, one of our most loyal supporters and his eldest son are, so I felt this was as good a time as any to ask why!

Why does anyone want to become a referee?   

Ian “I think people go into it for different reasons. For some it's to be involved when perhaps they weren't good enough as players. For youngsters it's a good source of income and teaches them important social skills such as communication, people management, conflict resolution. Refs get £45 at our level. To put that into context, Tom and I are assistants at Allied Counties (Slough, Burnham, Windsor, Maidenhead under 18s etc) and we get £32 for being an assistant. Would I want the extra few quid to take charge at Southern Prem level? Not a chance!   

Has becoming a ref given you a new perspective watching games?  

Ian: Completely! It's not just knowing the laws, which I can assure you most fans do not, it's also understanding the officials' decisions and seeing things with a bit more of an impartial eye. For example, thinking back to the Rugby game at home, when Rebels fans were screaming at the ref for Ed Smith's red card, I was completely supportive of the referee. How referees pro-actively manage games is something you can't fully appreciate unless you have been in the middle and done it.”   

Football is an emotional game and we all lose all temper from time to time. How do we protect refs from abuse from players and supporters or is something that will always be there.  

Ian “Even allowing for the fact I am a qualified official I still lose my temper occasionally when spectating! As you say it's an emotional game and we love our team. Verbal abuse from spectators is always going to be there. Even officiating at kids games you get comments from coaches and parents. I will happily talk to parents after the game and explain decisions however and they usually appreciate that once the passions of the game have cooled. As for players I'm very much an advocate of a global clampdown on referee abuse. It has to be a major and well publicised campaign applied at every level of football however. If that means we have a week or two of games finishing with 8 a side so be it. Players will quickly learn. I would be amazed if it happened however.”   

What do you think should happen to Banbury. Are non league clubs in an impossible position to stop this - like when we had a bloke running on the pitch at the far end of the ground in a league cup match and were threatened with a fine by FA  

Ian “I think the Banbury situation needs a two-fold solution. Firstly, the league has to rule that the points are awarded to Slough. If not, it sets a very dangerous precedent suggesting if your team is losing you simply assault the referee to get the match replayed. I don't think a monetary fine is appropriate but I would like to see Banbury United subject to some serious sanctions regarding their stadium management. The exposed tunnel area is an accident waiting to happen and the lack of officials and stewards was very poor. If they cannot correct this to the satisfaction of the Southern League then I believe the Club should face penalties. However good stadium management is, clubs cannot stop every incidence of misbehaviour. What they should do however is take all reasonable and practical measures and Banbury United fell way short of that from what I witnessed.”  

Cheers Ian, and remember the next time your about to shout cheat at the ref, get a grip of yourself and remember that without them, as we found to our cost at Banbury, there wouldn't be a game to watch.

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