The manager who became a referee: Former Gorleston and Diss Town boss Richard Daniels calls for more players to qualify as referees
One referee demanding respect from players in East Anglia this season is former Gorleston and Diss Town manager Richard Daniels, who has spoken to DAVID FREEZER about the challenges faced by football officials.
If there's one thing you can say about Richard Daniels the referee, he is honest, perhaps too honest for his own good.
'It is the same as when you are a player, you know when you have had a good game or a bad game,' Daniels told me, as he talked about the differences between being a manager and a referee.
'I've had a couple this year when I've missed something, like Corton v Aylsham a couple of weeks ago, I should have given a Corton guy a red card and Aylsham had a go at me, and rightly so.
'You know deep down when you've got something wrong.'
It is a point of contention throughout football, right to the very top level, should referees be allowed to admit they have made a mistake after a game?
Well Daniels is not afraid to hide from the fact that he, and referees at all levels, will make mistakes from time to time. They are only human after all.
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But as a man who openly admits his love for football and who has managed both Gorleston and Diss in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League, he feels he is given more leeway then some other referees.
'Maybe managers when they go on a course should give refereeing a go,' Daniels continued. 'Because when I go to a game it's often 'oh it's Lugsy from Diss or Gorleston'.
'Like at Blofield v South Walsham last week I had one who said 'he used to manage Gorleston' and the players left me alone because they know I'm going to do my best to get it right.'
Based in Lowestoft, the 45-year-old officiates Anglian Combination matches on a Saturday, sometimes followed by the Ipswich Sunday League the next day.
He played as a striker for a number of local clubs, including Gorleston, Diss and Kirkley & Pakefield, before starting out in management at Bungay Town and taking over at Gorleston in 2006, where he stayed for six years.
He then helped Diss Town avoid relegation last season, before deciding to resign in October after losing his hunger for management.
He qualified as a referee in 2004 and started officiating in the Lowestoft & District League.
'One of the key things is that when you have played or managed the game at a decent level, sometimes you get a good name or a bad name, but you have got a name,' Daniels said.
'So one of the things I have found different this second time around - the first time I refereed was before I had done the Gorleston job - is that some of the players are going 'oh, that's Lugsy from Diss'.
'One of the things I always say, at whatever level, is that you can never get everything right, as a referee, a player or a manager, but I believe playing and managing at a decent level has helped 10-fold in the last three months.'
Daniels is not ruling out a return to management one day and has openly spoken of his regret at leaving Gorleston when he did, but for now his sights are set on being promoted to officiate at Thurlow Nunn level.
He believes the Football Association should be working harder to get more players to qualify as referees, but also admits abuse from the sidelines can make refereeing an intimidating proposition.
'A couple of years ago I would go up to Walmer Road (in Gorleston) and there would be a lot of young lads refereeing youth games but that seems to have dried up,' Daniels continued.
'But I think that's a society thing. Football is not the be all and end all like it was for us.
'But one of my pet hates is parents at youth football. I went to watch a youth game a couple of weeks ago and the referee was a 16-year-old lad and I've never seen parents like it. How they get away with it, I don't know.
'When the kids see the parents abusing the ref, then when they get to 16 or 17 they walk away.
'I've seen under-11 or under-12 games and it can kick off and the kids see mum and dad doing it so they think they can do it, and the referees think 'why should I go and get abused?'.
'When I get sworn at I think 'easy Lugsy' because of the grief I used to give referees as a player and a manager. But I love it. I love the game and when I'm watching Sky Sports I'm now watching the referee's performance.
'Promotion is key for me though, if I can get promotion to a better level then I will feel like I'm achieving something, not just going up and watching a lot of games.
'Playing and managing before I was a referee has to help though, I don't care what anyone says, it helps.'
– Do you agree with Daniels? Should more players be prepared to qualify as referees of does the FA need to be doing more to encourage people to qualify? Leave a comment below, tweet @davefreezer or email firstname.lastname@example.org