A whistle-stop tour of my life as a referee

You need to go to Specsavers ref

amateur Football referee sport sunday league university

I managed my first game at 16 and even though it was between 10-year-olds they absolutely terrified me.

Many of you will have taken up normal weekend jobs like working at bars, clubs, shops and restaurants, you may or may not enjoy what you do.

I’m a second year who’s a football referee and I absolutely love it.

Yes, you have to get up early to manage games on grotty pitches in the pissing rain. You do take backchat and abuse from weekend Ronaldo’s and Sunday League Suarez’s.

You occasionally even suffer the ignominy of: “The referee’s a wanker.”

But despite all this, my four years as an official have been the best of my life.


This was the fitting kit

After eight weeks of classes and written exams the first game was Dunfermline Athletic against Motherwell under-11s.

Having no kit they gave me a full red XXXL, needless to say it looked ridiculous.

Nerves overran me, I kept forgetting which team was which and couldn’t move properly, blowing the whistle felt strange and brought on a kind of fear.

At the end there was another qualified referee in the world.


After this I bought my own – this time fitting – kit and worked up the youth age groups. Two years later the unforgiving world of amateur football loomed large.

Saturday league level has taught me a lot – like how to manage 22 grown men out to win at any cost and nothing else.

Patter really helps too, having banter helps a match ease-along smoothly.


Naturally, like any player does, refs want to have a good game.

If the winning team has no issues with the ref then chances are the game’s been a good one.

If a team are happy to win but still find time to criticise then something’s definitely gone wrong on the official end.


I’ve been fortunate to ref big games like derbies, top of the table matches and relegation clashes.

Surprisingly, the tougher matches are preferable. Giving fouls and showing a few cards is thrilling and an adrenaline rush follows after splitting-up a couple of players going head-to-head.

There have been embarrassing moments though, like leaving behind essential items such as cards or whistles, I even forgot to take the ball out once…

Occasionally a yellow card will fall out of my pocket and the indignity of a player saying: “ref, here’s your card,” is excruciating.

I’ve also decked it a few times which attracts shouts of: “you’re not getting a free kick for that!”


Refereeing is not all about football though.

Being a 20-year-old second year the social scene is important and I’ve made two great friends through it.

Naturally there is competition between the three of us and they do like to remind me of my red card tally over a season (17!). I don’t take any nonsense.

A lot of people think they can easily do a referee’s job and if you’re reading this thinking that then please, be my guest, come and have a go.