I found the rookie ref at the clubhouse, fully prepared and dressed up. He had arrived 75mins before the game. Good to fully focus on the game, he explained.
When we entered his locker room he started testing a bag full of match balls. Using his own pressure tool, he was checking each ball on the right air pressure. They were all fine he confirmed and handed the bag back to the home team coach.
I was surprised and, after closing the door, I asked him how he managed to do that. He told me the team manager of the local 3rd team frowned on his request, but delivered the total quantity anyway and just waited for his official ‘ball approval’.
He had also requested to speak to both ‘team manager, trainer or coach’. For a 3rd, so-called ‘reserve team’, that’s quite a funny request. There were only just enough players on the away team, so don’t count on any staff members. But, seriously, what do you want to discuss with him, if he exists at all? Well, he explained, it’s basically about the subs procedure and he would advise them ‘please no loud dissent’, or else….
I honestly advised him to refrain from these pre-match procedures as they will draw too much attention to you as ref. Especially when you haven’t started yet. Also the ball pressure check, get rid of it. Pick up the first ball you are offered and that’s it for starters. See you all at the pitch! Enjoy the game.
I must say, he was a excellent ref and he had a pretty good game. No serious challenges and just two teams still smiling about their ambitious ref who even made sure their balls were the right pressure.