“How it feels to be rotation ref again” – Rodric Leerling

classic footballTo my own surprise I was assigned as AR1 to one more final play-off football game. A real final in which the winner would earn promotion to a higher U16 league. An appointment that doesn’t happen too often.

For the last four weeks, we worked as trio consisting of two 50+ and one 65+ ref. The first two had their turn as CR so the senior (in age) gets the final. Logical. Or?
Well, the oldest ref is acting in a lower ref league than his two assistants and didn’t show much power during his AR roles so far. Quitting warming-ups and not supporting the CR a lot during the two previous games. I was getting a little worried and took a daring step: I consulted the FA. They confirmed he got the CR role as part of being in rotation and it also was based on his performance during the past season. Nothing they could do about it.

I decided to behave like a pro and colleague, and not judge him prematurely just on his AR roles so far. He might have been hiding so far and just perform like a FIFA ref in this final.

He and his wife arrived late. They decided to take the bus for the last 35 km to do some sightseeing. My eyes went big but I refrained from any comments. Focus on the game. Lots of things went wrong from the start. One goal net had a whole in the back. The score board didn’t work properly and changed to 9:9 during first half. I had to shut it down at the start of the second half. But that was not the main thing. The CR just performed lousy. Let fouls go unpunished, had a terrible pace and followed most of the action on distance. No eye-contact with AR’s and basically ran the show on his own. And no fair self-reflection afterwards.

And who was receiving the scorn? Right, this AR1 walking the line with two sets of angry team coaches and bleachers full of parents. They got angrier during 2nd half when some heavy fouls were not even noted or just waved off. Both AR’s were losing it and lost concentration, just praying a finishing goal would end this 80 mins of torture. To our relief, the winning goal was scored 10 mins before regular time and we walked off the pitch as colleagues. Scorned by supporters from losing side, not being thanked by the losing coaches or players. And I even found a tweet later commenting our ‘lousy trio performance’ which included the Dutch FA.

Well, I don’t feel guilty, but it took me two days and a blog to get rid of the bad aftertaste. I had imagined this Season Finale totally different.

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