Grassroots Coaching

A follow up on the Mark Clattenburg debacle

So the debacle and disgrace that was Chelsea football club’s complaint against Mark Clattenburg has been investigated and Mr Clattenburg has been cleared by the FA. Once Chelsea football club had made the complaint, the football association were duty-bound to investigate this absurd complaint. How Chelsea football club ever had the nerve to lodge this complaint against Clattenburg is beyond the comprehension of most right-minded people. But fair play to the football association, they responded in the right manner, investigated thoroughly, and cleared Mr Clattenburg fully.

It will be very interesting when Mr Clattenburg has to referee a Chelsea match. Imagine as the two captains meet the referee. The Chelsea captain calls heads. The referee is the only one with the knowledge of which way up the coin landed. Sorry Chelsea, says the ref, it’s tails. You lost. Good luck with the game!! Referees have a hard enough job as it is, without having these types of complaints made against them, both as referees and as people. As a player, I was as bad if not worse than most other players with my complaints against/to referees. How they put up with the likes of me on the football pitch I’ll never now.

A point of reference

I only had one experience of being a referee. There was a charity match played at Peacehaven, in Sussex. Between Peacehaven football club and an all star East Enders team.

The match took place in the late 1980s, and at the time I was playing for Brighton and Hove Albion football club. I was volunteered by the club to be the referee for the game. Most of the stars of Eastenders at the time were playing or in attendance. Several thousand people turned up to watch on a lovely sunny summer’s day. As soon as the game kicked off, these would-be professional football players from the East Enders cast were on to me. You would’ve thought they were playing in the World Cup final, not a friendly charity match!

I got called every name under the sun, my right to have parents was questioned frequently, I was told I was useless this and a useless that. Players were in my face aggressively shouting. It was a horrendous experience. Eventually I was called a cheating b*!!&%d or indeed worse than that. That was when I finally cracked. I blew my whistle called the offending East Enders star towards me and told him that if he said one more word to me I would smash him and hurt him badly.

“You can’t say that to me”, he replied. “I can and will say what I want”, I answered. “If you and your teammates don’t shut up moaning and accusing me of being a cheat, I will walk off this pitch you won’t have a referee, and that will be the end of the game. That will be your responsibility”.

The game continued to halftime. When we were walking off at half time, I heard the same player say to one of his teammates that I was useless and cheating them. Emotional players in the tunnel at half time or at the end of the game can create a very dangerous place. But I don’t think for one minute that the players expected the referee to grab one of the players put them up against a wall and threaten to smash their face in. But it seemed to have the desired effect as in the second half things calmed down somewhat and at the end of the game the East Enders players even came up, shook my hand and said well done ref. But, the bar did go a bit quiet when I walked in after the game!

Give Clattenburg’s situation a thought

Referees, including Mr Clattenburg, now have my total respect and support. They do an unenviable job remarkably well. If you examine the statistics of the referees in the Premiership matches they rarely get decisions wrong. So it’s about time everybody gave Clattenburg and the rest a break, gave them more respect and appreciation for the very difficult job they do so very well.

So have a think, Mr Abramovich, and the rest of the powerful owners of premiership football clubs. Try just for once being a referee yourself and that might make you think about any future complaints about referees.

I hope you enjoyed this opinion piece on Mr Clattenburg’s recent unfortunate events; let me know what you think in the comments below!


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