Greetings Kankas and Kankies.
Reading Oz Kanka's blog on Muzzy Izzet (The End is Near) a few weeks ago (also my comment on that particular blog) inspired me to write this blog on the subject of `Putting Something Back`.
A few years ago when I was 29 (I'm not telling how many years ago !!!), I was part of the footie squad of my Air Base at Thorney Island (near Portsmouth) when we won the Watney's Red Barrel (a great Ingallish beer from yesteryear !!) Cup by beating the Royal Navy team of HMS Daedalus at one of the Stadium's in Portsmouth (not Fortress Fratton !!).
That match was to be my last `competative` match because a few months later in pre-season training I broke 4 metatarsals in my right foot. After 6 weeks in plaster I was then posted to a small Air Base at Abingdon in Berkshire.
It was there that I met an old friend from Air Force Academy days who was a footie referee. He convinced me that I was `over the hill` at 30 and that I should consider putting something back into the sport which I loved so much.
My friend, Keith Powell, was a very persistent and persuasive man, and whilst I was still in crepe bandages, he finally wore my resistance down to take the Referees Course.
It wasn't until I had been a Linesman for him a few times in the North Berkshire League that I finally understood where he was coming from. His argument was that although he loved footie, he was hopeless as a player, and so that is why he decided to become a referee. I may also add, that although he was only 1 or 2 years older than me, I learned so much about footie from him. For example, I learned that my ego and my knowledge of the game were not equal !!!
We both refereed in the North Berkshire League, The Rothmans Hellenic League, The `old` Southern League (now part of the Conferance) and The Midland Area of the Professional Teams Youth League, and I began to take pride in what I was doing.
However, I think my most humbling experience was when I was asked to referee a North Berks Division 4 match on one of my few weekends off. The minor leagues never had enough referees to go round all divisions and this particular team hadn't had a referee for about 5 or 6 weeks !
The Referees Secretary didn't have a difficult job convincing me to officiate and so off I went into the Berkshire countryside to find this village team. This particular match sticks in my mind because I have never had such a VIP welcome and reception in all my refereeing travels. All 22 players shook my hand after the match and they insisted on my joining them for post-match refreshments. It was then as a lowly Class 3 referee that I understood the message Keith had been trying to pass on to me !
In later years when I was a Class 1 referee and officiating in senior leagues and the going was tough at times, I reflected on my North Berks days and took strength from that experience.
Of course, it is not easy sometimes to be judge, jury and executioner, but just try playing a footie match without a referee and the match will degenerate into chaos !
Putting something back into the game was something special for me and I like to think that my `little bit` was useful to all the leagues and players in which I officiated. Anyone with a love of footie can contribute as a referee, coach, trainer or administrator. ALL the cogs of a wheel are important !
Of course, this concept doesn't only apply to footie. If you have a skill, then use it to help others. Find the time, and `PUT SOMETHING BACK` !!
All the best from Eski Kanka Jim