‘The simple fact is, referees are human’

Action from Spixworth against Mulbarton Wanderers in the Anglian Combination Premier Division. Dan B

Action from Spixworth against Mulbarton Wanderers in the Anglian Combination Premier Division. Dan Barraclough for Spixworth (maroon), and Bale Simpson for Mulbarton. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

After hearing that police had to be called to Norwich United's trip to Godmanchester Rovers after a spectator allegedly assaulted a referee, I thought I would share my experiences of officiating in Norfolk.

Social media assistant, Ed Colman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Social media assistant, Ed Colman. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

I was never going to make it as a player, but I love football and while reporting on it as a journalist is great I wanted to be involved in the game, so I decided to take up refereeing.

Everyone's reaction was 'you must be mad' and yes, when you get two sides turn up who are not interested in playing football, who instead just want to get dragged into a wrestling match with each other, you are certainly left asking yourself: 'Why am I doing this?'

But when sides turn up to get it on with it and let you do your job then it can make for a great afternoon, especially the banter and the beer in the bar afterwards.

The simple fact is referees are human and spectators, especially parents of children in junior football, seem to forget this all too easily. I haven't been assaulted but I have plenty of colleagues who have been, some who have since given up.


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Sadly now the status quo seems to be that there is always going to be an element of abuse, which in itself is the main problem.

The FA and those who govern football can only do so much. Clubs need to stop hiding away from their responsibilities to remove people who regularly abuse referees, however talented they are.

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Clubs love to moan about the lack of referee coverage but it is self-inflicted, they have to shoulder the responsibilty of controlling their own players, because if they can't control players how can a referee be expected to?

•Edward Colman is Archant Norfolk's social media assistant and a freelance football reporter

•What are your experiences of how referees are treated in the lower leagues? You can leave your comments below.

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