Time women got some balls

by Claire Tully

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Apparently it takes balls to ref in the Premier League.

And by this I mean Daddy bags and man tonsils – the treasured crown jewels about only half the world population possess. Not the ones you kick about or bring home under your arm to your ma.

Courage, the other type of ‘balls’ we talk about in football is only second to the first type.

Being a highly focused individual who inspires true passion for the game and has already proven themselves fully capable of doing the job, is seemingly of less worth than a Y chromosome.  Which, is half an X chromosome I might add.

But genderisms aside, this week headlines were made in football because – wait for it – a woman refereed a championship game.


Indeed this was in fact the first time in history it had ever been done, and my whole-hearted congratulations to 31 year-old Amy Fearns for getting the job done. But judging by the reaction of some people you’d have easily mistaken the entire foundations upon which football stands was now entering a post apocalyptic era.

Instead a person with breasticles instead of testicles went out and did her job. The one she had been doing since the tender age of 14 no less. Oh the horror.

Now I can understand the reservations that some people, mainly men as it happens, feel about having women involved in the game and I do accept the point that in general women are physically less able than men. That’s life, and sometimes it sucks, but I’m glad I don’t have chest hair if that’s what comes with muscles.

But, in the defence of my gender and female refs, they are not actually playing the game and if they had the super elite sporting capabilities of the players, then by God they’d be earning their wages instead of taking abuse at the sidelines.

And more to the point, the issue of referees who cannot keep pace is old news even without a perfectly pedicured female foot ever stepping onto a top flight pitch. Two words – Alan Wiley.

Amazingly there are still only 6 female referees in the whole of England – and none in Ireland – so you are more likely to marry a Ghanaian Prince at this rate then see one ref a match. That said I am truly in awe of women like Amy who have the balls – yes balls – to dedicate themselves to a game that doesn’t need them.

Sadly, the association of women with football has in recent years been more about the dirty knicker tales of wannabe WAGs who know more about  5K football-like boobjobs than  about the men in shorts running around with ball on the grass. Oh except that they are rich. That detail never seems to pass them by.

For once a woman has made headlines in football for doing something that doesn’t involve sex.

Now isn’t that something to be proud of?

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  • Johno

    great article Claire, and I agree, it certainly takes balls for a woman to ref a mans game. And well done to Amy. And you’re right in saying it makes a change for a woman to be in the news for footballing reasons rather then who she has slept with.

    But saying that, I’m going to have to say I don’t think would work at the top level, not being a male chauvinist, I think you can be to PC. They haven’t played the game to the same standard as men have, they don’t understand what it means to play the game the same as a man does. And do you honestly think Wayne Rooney would take any notice of a woman? It would be chaos.

    It’s all to PC my liking. Take that really annoying women commentator on Match of the Day, horrendous, that has to a joke! There’s a Facebook group with over 30,000 people to rid of her.

    The woman’s game is one of the fastest growing sports in the Europe, and it should stay exactly as that.

  • chef

    seems like miss tully has taken to footie writin
    like a duck to water….
    that was agood read and i enjoyed it
    and im showin some of the lads over here
    ..itll stir some contorversy..
    but like i sed before
    im ahuge advocate for womens participation in pro football..

    reffing may be dodgy..
    .not because there females
    but because of the modern day players attitude.
    then again if u can get a lass who can put em in thier place….who knows what might happen
    ..i think it depends on the person not the gender….
    that itaie bloke who looks like hes from another planet
    where they all have eggs for heeds
    collini he is my fave ref of all…….
    meticolous fair…..and always the pro
    youd think theyd stamp all over him
    but they never do..
    so i think if a woman can ref a male oriented sport
    it will depend on the persons strength of character to break the mould and lead the way……
    i woudnt say it wont happen tho….

    solid article tho
    ………..chefs well impressed…

  • Evo

    Love the article Claire! I agree with Chef – it depends on the person not the gender whether a ref is good or not. There are plenty of women playing football who swear, spit & do dirty tackles – just look at Elizabeth Lambert nothing PC about her (hope Sarah does not fall into this category)! Maybe that’s what the likes of Wayne Rooney need – a good woman to put them in their place! Yeh to the women refs!

  • Trev

    As an ex football league referee all i will say on this matter is the women who referee in this sport perhaps are doing so as the FA are then seen to be embracing change and moving forward. Just something to consider but a Level 3 Woman Referee is allowed to referee at International Womens Football level yet a male at the same level at best is running the line at Conference Level………………….food for thought guy’s, and before anyone thinks I am biased as an EX referee, Amy raynor and Jani Frampton are both friends of mine and know exactly what i mean buy this!!

  • mickey

    Good point there Trev, if that truly is the case about level 3 reffing, then the girls shouldn’t get a leg-up just because they are female. If they do comply to all Premiership standards though, then they have as much right as anyone to ref. I might even take it up myself.

  • http://www.pmadamson.co.uk Peter M Adamson

    Well said Claire. I was an assistant referee to Amy when she was climbing the ladder and I had no complaints about her being the ref and me the assistant. She did the job to a high level and fully deserves her promotion to referee in the championship. She had 5 in the book within 12 minutes and everyone was justified. Furthermore, when we got a red later in the game on my call she was 100% right to back me up as was proven at the hearing. I hope Amy goes on to higher things because she is a top ref. Sadly I’ve now given up refereeing but include Amy in my Claims to Fame..

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