A Paul Trevillion referee illustration
Ask the Ref: Those First Steps – The Start of My Refereeing Career
And the Origination of Red and Yellow Cards
Sheffield, England 1960
I was playing in local football when I was encouraged to take up the whistle. After six evening sessions of tuition I sat for a written examination on the laws of the game. I was informed immediately that I had passed the test and that I was now a registered Referee.
In 1960 when I passed the test, little did I expect that this hobby of Refereeing would result in me officiating in over 35 countries around the world.
Since leaving my active role on the field in 1995, I have managed to squeeze in another 30 countries running Referee Clinics and encouraging young people to become officials.
I was also involved in establishing the first group of Professional Referees in my role as General Manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd.
Peter Walton has now taken up a similar role in America to set up PROREF who will operate on similar lines to the PGMOL.
I also operate as a UEFA Referee Expert, Referee Lecturer, Member of the UEFA Referees Convention Panel and Referee Ambassador for the English Premier League.
A few days after passing the test I borrowed a Referees uniform and took those very first tentative steps onto a local school playing field to officiate my first game.
Having blown my whistle to start the game I now had to decide where to run, what to look out for, and when to whistle and direct players. This was without doubt a real challenge, but an enjoyable one.
I even had to keep looking at my watch to ensure that I was playing the correct amount of time.
Now occasionally I drive past Intake School in Sheffield, the venue of that first game, and glance at the field and smile. I remember one of the Team Managers, Len Swallow, coming up to me after the game and complimenting me on my performance.
Little did I know at the time that his son was a Referee officiating on the Professional Leagues and he was on the staff of Sheffield United, one of the professional clubs in my home city.
I joined the local Referees Association in Sheffield where Referees meet each month and discuss incidents and usually a top class Referee would give a talk and pass on his experiences.
At this first meeting I met up with several referees who were to assist me in developing my future career.
The main speaker that evening was International Referee Ken Aston whom I had seen on television refereeing Football League games.
Six years later in his role with FIFA at the 1966 World Cup in England he had to come onto the field to escort Rattin, an Argentine player, off the field having been dismissed by the referee. The player would not leave the field of play and eventually had to be escorted off.
Ken knew that there was a language problem and the player did not understand the actions of the Referee and would not leave the field, causing quite a delay.
Some months after the World Cup Ken was driving his car and with the traffic lights at red he came upon the idea of using Red and Yellow cards to aid communication. At the next International Football Association Board Meeting the idea was approved and has been in use for many years.
Helping referees to control the game.
Related Articles: Ask the Ref
Keith Hackett is a world class ref and the author of You Are the Ref, the Ultimate Illustrated Guide to the Laws of Football and the new book, You Are the Umpire. The books are available on Amazon.com. The amazing illustrations are by Paul Trevillion.
You Are The Ref is a cult classic comic strip in England. SN is thrilled to bring this to our American soccer audience and share these stunning portraits of soccer stars from all eras. For anyone who has ever questioned a ref's eyesight or grappd with a clearly 'wrong' call, now it is your turn!
According to David James, "Anyone who loves the game knows You Are The Ref. Paul Trevillion's brillant art has been around for generations!"
Any opinions expressed in this column shall not be construed as advice on Laws of the Game, and may not represent the official position of US Soccer, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), CalSouth, the Presidio League, or any affiliates thereof unless specified with appropriate attribution.