Stamford in need of more referees

Every game needs a referee
Every game needs a referee

You may have seen David Beckham on TV last week in a documentary, For Love of the Game, following his attempts to play seven games of football on seven continents in just a 10 days for Unicef.

Beckham played in the cleared jungles of Papua New Guinea, on the paving stones in front of a temple in Nepal, on the rough stony ground of a refugee camp in Djibouti, Africa and then even on ice of the Antarctic before finishing on the lush turf of Old Trafford in front of more than 70,000 people.

What did all those games, played thousands of miles apart, by people of numerous different nationalities, speaking many different languages, have in common? They all needed a referee.

It’s easy to miss the official in the middle, a good referee should go unseen.

But without the man or woman there blowing the whistle a game would never kick-off.

Stamford and District Referees’ Association are in need of more members to keep up with the demand of games being played in the local area.

The group, in conjunction with the Lincolnshire Football Association will be holding a FA Basic Referee Course at Stamford AFC’s Borderville Sports Centre off Ryhall Road, Stamford, starting with an introductory session on Thursday, January 28, from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

The Association, which covers mainly games in the Peterborough and District League and Junior Alliance League, currently only have 10 members, many of whom are getting to the point where age is catching up with them.

Dave Bryan, who is perhaps the association’s most successful member going on to be an assistant referee in the Barclays Premiership for 20 years and cover the Champions League, said it is vital to get young people into refereeing.

Bryan, who is running the line in Liverpool’s FA Cup third round game against Exeter City tomorrow, said: “It all starts at grass roots.

“I started at Empingham Road [the home of the Junior Daniels in Stamford].

“If you are 25-30 there is a lot of support there to take you a long way in football.”

However he said Stamford and District Referees are looking for people of all ages, from 14 and up to come and find out more about becoming a football official.

Bryan, who also works for South Kesteven District Council, is living proof of what can be achieved.

He has run the line for the likes of AC Milan and Real Madrid but Bryan, who still lives in Stamford, said the highlight of his career was officiating the 2007 FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea, the first final to return to Wembley after it was rebuilt.

Bryan said all you need to be a referee is ability, willingness to learn and a strong personality.

The course on January 29 will give people a taste of what the six week, or three weekend, course entails.

Football is the nation’s game, the beautiful game, the game which fills the majority of these sports pages each week but it can’t survive and flourish without referees. So if you have been out of the game for a while or want a new challenge get yourself down to Borderville.

For more information call Michael Brader or James Cairns on 08449670708 or e-mail michaelbrader@btconnect.com

Alternatively call Peter Chappell on 07950 420891.