BILL Eaton gives a light-hearted insight into the life of a local referee. Today he talks about the importance of having a good rapport with those he is refereeing.

BUILDING a rapport with players is an essential part of game management.

Every referee has a tolerance of what he thinks is acceptable. This, though, can change – not only from match to match but during a game if they feel stronger action is required to control it.

Match control can start by maybe having a bit of banter with players during their pre-match warm-up or as part of the ref’s pre-match instructions to them. A friendly handshake in a calm and relaxed manner and a few words with the team captains before kick off will help get them on your side.

It’s an ideal situation for the ref to show his willingness to work with them.

I often say to the captain: “If I need your help to deal with a player I will try to come to you first to deal with them.”

As players are not referees, and generally do not know the basic laws of the game (that’s what we are here for), sometimes they get themselves into situations because of a lack of knowledge. With my arm already raised to signal an indirect free kick, by far the funniest thing a player has ever said to me was: “I bet you I will score from this free kick. I’ll smash it in the top corner.”

“Score directly from this free kick, from here, no chance,” I replied.

My arm was still raised and he then offered me a pint bet which I sportingly accepted.

He smashed the ball against the crossbar.

So close in his mind but so far in the eyes of the laws of the game because, of course, you cannot score directly from an indirect free kick.

In the pub afterwards he sulked about his bet to his team-mates.

I asked him: “Did you not notice my arm was raised? It meant it was an indirect free kick and you can’t score directly from it.”

I let him off the bet knowing that the ribbing he got off his team-mates was sufficient punishment.

In the end if you have tried hard to manage players with a friendly rapport, then players can have no come back when they are punished for not showing you any respect.