It seemed a game as usual last weekend, but the circumstances would turn out to be totally different.
I got wind of a special situation on the sports complex where we would play on pitch 2. Remarkale, because U19 games are mostly played on central pitch, but pitch 1 needed to be free long before the match-of-the-day, or maybe better: match-of -the-decade.
The club where I was assigned this weekend are neighbours to their arch rival. For the locals their football lives are defined by being either blue or red. The derby hadn’t been played for 12 years because one of the clubs used to play one league higher. This season they were matched again and this Saturday was D-day. All games (home and away!) after 12noon were changed to an earlier slot and my game was the last one before the big one. Everyone wanted to be join the derby and all tickets were sold out.
We started to get a feeling for the special game halfway our own game: supporter chants and smoke bombs going off, followed by big bangs from heavy fireworks. These were again followed by sirenes from firetrucks and police cars. Luckily, the wind was blowing away from my pitch, otherwise I might have had to abandon the game. In the corner of my eye I also noticed long queues at the ticket box just outside my pitch.
After blowing the last whistle the home team quickly left the pitch to make sure they could watch their lead team. I asked if I could watch the game and was allowed to sneak into the spectator area and watch my fellow referee handle this spectacle. He did well and I admired his calm exposure despite the smoke bombs and loud chanting from both sides at the start of the game. But then again he was accompanied by three assistants (two ARs and a 4th official). I had to work with two club ARs. Worth another blog.