BILL Eaton continues to provide a light-hearted insight into life as a referee in his weekly column.
This week he hangs up his notebook and pencil to give young referee Jonathan Eckersley, pictured, a chance to tell us how he got into the game I started refereeing as soon as I was old enough, taking my course when I was 13 and starting to referee a couple of months after I turned 14.
I began my career refereeing in the Bolton, Bury and District Junior Football League and the Wigan Youth League, mainly nine-versus-nine and some under-12s 11 v 11 games.
Some matches were tough, and there was a lot of travelling involved for my parents which I’ll always be grateful for.
As I got older I progressed to officiating games for older players, refereeing an u16s final in the Wigan Youth League in 2011 and then an u16s Chairman’s Cup final for the BBDJFL at the Reebok Stadium a year later.
Ironically it was the day Bolton were relegated, and, being a Bolton fan, refereeing on the pitch that day was a fantastic experience.
It’s funny how things turn out, isn’t it? At the end of that season I was awarded the BBDJFL Senior Referee of The Year Award, something I am still immensely proud of.
I have now moved on to officiate in the Lancashire Amateur League, an open age league.
I also regularly do the rounds on the North West Youth Alliance as well as being selected as an official for many u18s Barclays Premier League fixtures, including Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.
In March 2013 I also refereed the u15s Lancashire County Cup Final at the Lancashire FA headquarters in Leyland, another achievement I am proud of.
I am hoping to continue refereeing for many years and would love to make it on to the Football League list one day.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
One of the things I dislike most in modern football is the simulation culture.
Players diving because of what they have seen on television disgusts me; it highlights a bad attitude.
Shirt pulling and appeals for pushing in the back are also becoming pet hates of mine.
I enjoy working as part of a team, as having assistants is a great help when out there refereeing 22 boisterous adults.