Football Shorts: The Over-Sensitive Referee

by | Nov 1, 2016

Strange news of the “only in non-league football” variety reaches us from the Spartan South Midlands League, with the abandonment of a match between Holmer Green and Edgware Town was abandoned after thirteen minutes after the referee decided that he’d had enough of some abuse that he was receiving from a member of the crowd. Holmer Green had already taken the lead when the referee decided that he’d had enough and, in spite of the best efforts of the home side to find a workaround, brought proceedings to a somewhat unexpected close.

It was reported by an individual at the match that said referee had already made some unusual decisions – we can’t confirm this one way the other – before approaching the supporter concerned, arguing with him, and then promptly calling the match off. Holmer Green have confirmed that they offered to provide a linesman so that the senior match assistant could take over refereeing duties but that this couldn’t be completed because the referee had already abandoned the match.

Holmer Green’s club website has already confirmed that at no point were they asked to eject said supporter from the stadium, and that “Both clubs now await word from their respective County FAs, which will presumably mean they will appear before separate Disciplinary Committees, before the League can order that the match to be replayed or otherwise”. The two clubs had, somewhat ironically, met in a match the Tuesday before, with Holmer Green winning by six goals to one.

We have questions, of course. What happens regarding the fifty-odd supporters who were at the match? Do they get a refund? What might the reaction of the County FAs concerned, when we consider the somewhat unilateral behaviour of the official in this unusual case? And more importantly than anything else, what might a supporter have shouted at a referee that was so terrible that the official concerned decided withinb a quarter of an hour of kick-off that perhaps this wasn’t worth the effort, and that the remainder of his Saturday afternoon would be better off spent at home catching up on that DVD boxset of The Wire that he’d been meaning to get around to for the whole of the summer?

It’s long been common knowledge that being a referee isn’t for the thin-skinned. Indeed, we might even argue that taking a dog’s abuse is a central part of the culture of football, and that anybody that isn’t prepared for this perhaps should be reconsidering what they do with themselves of a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps, though, this was a volley of abuse so profound that it somehow struck a nerve. Even though it has independently been described as no more than “moaning”, perhaps it touched on a subject so raw that the referee needed to leave the ground in order to prevent himself from doing something that he would come to regret.

It’s certainly the first time that we’ve heard of it happening although, considering the nature of the fractious relationship between the football supporter and the referee, it wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if it wasn’t the first time that a referee had decided that this was more hassle than it was worth. As the somewhat truncated match report on the Holmer Green website says: “If you ever think that you have seen everything in football after watching hundreds or even thousands of games, think again”.

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