BILL Eaton continues to provide a light-hearted insight into life as a referee in his weekly column.
This week he talks about a new junior football initiative.
AFTER yet another blanket pitch closure by Bolton, Salford and Wigan councils, very few clubs have access to superb 3G facilities that Breightmet Wanderers FC have.
So for the third week running off I went to mentor another young referee there.
Joe Simkin is a 14-year-old referee who qualified in the summer.
He is following in his older brother’s (Joshua’s) footsteps by refereeing.
He travelled from Euxton for one of the very few games in the Bolton, Bury and District Football League.
Breightmet Wanderers versus North Walkden in Section C of the under-13s took part in the ultimate game of two halves.
Breightmet cruised into a 4-0 half-time lead. With only nine players, a stand-in goalkeeper and with a slight wind in their backs, North Walkden came back amazingly to win 5-4.
Parents were, of course, supportingly vocal, which increased in loudness as the comeback of all comebacks grew closer and closer.
Even the North Walkden manager got in on the act with shouts of “wacky, wacky, wacky, wacky Walkden”.
All the best positive support, not only by all the representatives of North Walkden, but also of Breightmet Wanderers who clapped the visitors off the pitch.
Newly qualified referees, though, do not always have such a great environment to referee in.
Too often for everyone’s liking they have to deal with unsporting, aggressive, loud parents and coaches who continuously shout instructions to players throughout the game, plus continuously shout at referees, either criticising decisions or to try to intimidate them to give decisions their way. That’s why Joseph is supporting the Lancashire FA Silent Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
Information on the silent weekend can be found at the Lancashire FA website by clicking the ‘keep calm and stay quiet’ section.
It is not too late to sign up. The hope is that by staying quieter on the touchline it will increase the enjoyment for the players.
This is fully supported by the committee of the Bolton Bury and District Football League.
In the end, football, as all children’s sports, is about player participation and not spectator driven. So this weekend stay positive, or stay quiet.