TALES from the Dark Side is a light-hearted and positive weekly look into the work of referees.

Bill Eaton has got James Mainwaring, to give you a little insight to the Lancashire FA referees department.


WITH approximately 2,000 grassroots games every weekend in Lancashire, a skilled and enthusiastic workforce of trained and qualified match officials go about their business on local parks and pitches across the county.

With whistles and flags, and a solid knowledge of the laws of the game, Lancashire’s male and female referees uphold fair play, encourage enjoyment and participation and play their brave part in developing ‘The Beautiful Game’.

These match officials are guided and supported by the referees department at Lancashire FA, headed by referee development manager Steve Stewart. “A huge part of what we do is to make good referees great,” he said.

“Through our basic referee courses we produce good referees and help to support and develop them through a number of practical initiatives.”

One of the ways Lancashire FA achieve this is through partnership with the local referee societies, of which there are 13 throughout the county.

This year we are taking training and development out on the road and to our local societies. We are confident the joint venture between the National Referees Association, The FA and Lancashire FA, will see us train and engage directly with over 500 match officials in the coming months’.

The referees department is also responsible for quality assurance – and thankfully complaints are few and far between.

In fact, the department will deal with only one or two complaints from teams after a full weekend of matches – equivalent to 99.99 per cent satisfaction with Lancashire based referees.

One of the reasons for the low number of complaints is the mentoring scheme in progress throughout the county.

Approximately 650 assessments are carried out each season on referees to check the standard of officiating remains high and to offer advice and support to referees.

Furthermore the referees department is a strong supporter of The FA’s national Respect programme, and statistics this season prove the programme is working.

Overall, the total number of misconduct cases was down 11 per cent for season 2012/13 compared with 2011/12. This includes a county-wide drop in the number of cautions by 1,539.

The department are always looking to improve the training.

- If you are interested in becoming a referee, please call James on 01772 624000.