Unsung Heroes

by Peter Pickles

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

No win situation

A minute’s silence, please, for a dead profession; an imPOSSIBLE profession; a DREADFUL profession. A minute’s silence, my friends, for the only white people who can truly know what it’s like to be discriminated against based on the colour of their skin—or, in this case, the colour of their jersey: REFEREES.

I’m not sure there’s a more unsatisfying, frightening, HORRIBLE job around. Nurses have long torturous hours, but know they’re doing a service, helping people, and on some level this must allow them to deal with the occasional abuse; their innate benevolence sustaining them through the belligerent alcoholics and psychosexual trauma of repeated mid-stitch come-ons and mid-tetanus-jab flashers. Then you have garbage men, who in spite of the negative connotations attached to their profession, actually make GOOD money—plus people are happy to have their rubbish dealt with. And finally, traffic wardens, who are all impervious to the world anyway, a collection of angry, heartless immigrants who would eat their own mother’s brain if it meant an increase in their overall commission for the month. There are probably other worse jobs out there, but I can’t think of any—or be bothered to.

I just don’t see how anything can match being a referee on a scale of awful-to-suicide. Most of them probably don’t have wives or girlfriends or mistresses and are too stuck in their own misdirected moral code to call out for a special service lady—and the ones who DO have a woman at home are most likely shackled to a miserable old fat chick who settled for them amongst a quagmire of equally unsuitable men, and probably control them so much that being on the pitch is the only time in their life they can feel as if they have any power at all, which is why some referees feel the need to overcompensate and recklessly wield those red cards.

This isn’t ALL referees—like any rule, there are exceptions, anomalies that can’t be explained; perfectly normal children with happy lives and lots of sex on offer, who can play football, who even USED to play football, and yet still decide to pursue a ‘dream’ of being a referee—or a referee’s assistant, even, which is like applying to be an assistant to a toilet cleaner.

However, I figure the majority were bullied at school, like the fat girl everyone used to call Mr. Tubby. Never picked for football, or, if picked, always stuck in goal, or told to stand on the sidelines and watch. So they became referees in the hopes of garnering a modicum of respect, a paradoxical wish: referees, although in a position of authority, are given LESS respect that anybody, much like a policeman, the referees’ distant cousin. A referee can be hated by more people than a terrorist in the blow of a whistle, forty million people glaring pure uncut undiluted Nicaraguan HATE into the screen. That’s not good for one’s soul, I imagine.

Even if they’re amazing at their job, they will still get abuse. Even if they go their entire life without making a dodgy call, the OTHER TEAM will always say they did, regardless. It’s a no-win, like being trapped between a rock and a fat chick. And everyone makes mistakes. If a player makes a few minor blunders, then he’s had a bad game. If a referee makes ONE MISTAKE he’s Lucifer’s son. Or he’s an idiot. Or, if you listen to the perpetual ringing around the stadium of ‘the referee’s a wanker’, he’s a guy who likes to punish himself, too—albeit in a more pleasurable way than receiving a yellow card.

And what about the referees who aren’t in the Premiership? They make maybe twenty or thirty pound a game, ruling over the unruly; little obnoxious eleven-year-olds telling them how to do their job, the omnipresent threat of someone’s mentally deficient father racing onto the pitch to rearrange the referee’s outlook on the game—meaning to pluck one of his eyes from his skull so his outlook is as one-sided as the father would hope.

And here’s the worst part: even if they DO climb the heights of small league football all the way up to the Premiership, eventually they’ll be at the helm of an Arsenal game, and it’ll be back to the eleven-year-olds, telling them how to do their job again…

It’s a vicious circle.

So, please, my compatriots—a minute’s silence.

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  • Stevie

    Peter Pickles rules! Great article, I imagine all refs to work in offices with no music, dry people, on floor 27 with 1970’s furniture in places like Croydon…

  • Darren

    ref made a big boo boo tonight at the West Brom game!!

  • Peter Pickles

    Stevie: thanks 🙂

    If anyone has a great ambition to be a ref, someone needs to talk to them… or help them get a girlfriend…

  • stevie

    I imagine all refs to be called Brian or Malcomn

  • Jimmy

    Mike Reily is a twat and got it well wrong today. Cost us the league title

  • Respect

    What can you say about a article?
    Least these guys have the balls to Ref. Most of the knuckle draggers who play (and moan) have no brains or balls and don’t even touch the inside if their underpants when they run.
    If you can do better, you try it

  • Peter Pickles

    lol @ respect… did I hit a nerve…? 😉

  • Adz

    I have been a ref for 10 years now, im 24. I have only done 7-a – side games.
    I find that everyone is very quick to criticise referees judgemeant – judgement being the key word. People forget that a referees decision is his opion and his only. A ref only gives what he can see and what he deems to be anything but fair. People forget that there are 4 sides to a football pictch, and from every side of the pitch will be a different angle to the ‘crime’
    I find that its not so much players but the parents that bring the problems to grass roots football. The parents that fill they need to give there own opion on what is a faul and what is not.

  • Adz

    I have been referring for 10 years now and I am only 24. I only do 7 a side football from ages U8’s – U12’s. I would like to say that I have had a lot of experience in the game and defiantly seen a lot of things happen.
    The biggest problem with grass roots football is the parents, not the players, normally!! I think that parents forget that there are 4 sides to a football pitch and from each side of the pitch they will see a different angle, a different opion. But a lot of parents seem to want to forget is that a referees desion if final and its what he, or she has seen from there position on the pitch. Right or wrong? It shouldn’t matter as every one makes mistakes. Though I do not agree with the referees who find it hard to keep up with the game – its impossible to make a decision when you are 15, 20 yards away. If you are close enough then 9 times out of 10 you, as a referee will make the right call.
    I do appreciate that games are tense and that every parent, coach and manager wants there team to win – sometimes at any cost. But one thing I think some people forget as well is the more a referee is ‘abused’ the lower the confidence will be, and as a knock on effect mistakes will be made.
    One last thing. If referees refused to do the job then players, managers, coaches and parents would go without because the game would not be played.

  • Peter Pickles

    That might be true… but the issue is that most referees have never even played football… and the majority are sad power-hungry nerds who’ve never been laid…

    Not including you, of course 😉

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