BILL EATON LOOKS INTO LIFE AS A REFEREE IN HIS COLUMN TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE: Preparations and getting ready for matches

THE art to improve your refereeing can only start with, fail to prepare, prepare to fail, so leading up to this weekends match. Kit washed ironed and in my bag by Sunday night.

Cleaned my boots, checked that I had got my two whistles, two watches, two notebooks (one to keep score and one for misconducts and cautions).

Plus the cards. I always carry two sets. Reaction cards in my shorts, yellow (left) red (right).

Always found taking a card quickly controls the behaviour of players. Now it’s waiting time for my fixture, will keep checking the Bolton Bury and District Football League website for my fixture.

This week I am at Walshaw Sports Club v Bar Hill Boys U17s. So now I will check the website again, what division and where are the teams positions in the league.

Received a great fixture as both teams are undefeated with four wins each and are joint top of the table, was at Walshaw for my first game of the season, massive pitch, so now I have to wait till I am contacted for the venue and kick off time.

I receive a text on Tuesday night with venue and a 9.30am kick off time.

Then it’s all changed after I receive another text stating home team pitch unfit, matched switched to Bar Hill, so have to plan my route.

Friday night now so planning what I do on arrival, find the correct pitch, introduce myself to both managers, have a check of the pitch and nets while watching and listening to the teams warm up, how they interact and do this during the warm-up give me a clue to how they behave during the game.

Having an early morning shower, then the dreaded early morning bleep, bleep, bleep of a text coming through at 8am, can only mean one thing, game off as both venues pitches are now unfit to play on.

So all the best preparation had gone to waste.

Now off to Bromley Cross v Brandlesholme Warriors u13s to mentor a young referee.

Not a wasted Saturday morning after all.

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