Richard is the organised one of the bunch, and irritates everyone with emails, phone calls, demands…!
Richard has been on the committee since the society formed in April 2012, and also serves on the Hampshire FA Referee Youth Council, representing the Aldershot & Alton areas. Richard recently gained promotion to Level 5, is a licenced referee assessor, and has been refereeing since November 2002 (try and guess his age from that one).
Outside of refereeing, Richard is studying his Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice, and will be a trainee solicitor come September. We caught up with him to see what makes him ‘tick’…
Why did you start refereeing?
I couldn’t kick a ball to save my life; I think the defining moment of my illustrious career was at Under 9’s, coming on as a substitute in the dying minutes of the match, saving a ball that was heading for the goal with my stomach (winding myself in the process) and promptly being substituted again. I then went and fractured my wrist when playing around in goal at the age of 13. It just wasn’t meant to be.
My dad ran my brother’s Under 11 team at Beaulieu FC at the time, and I was running the line for him every weekend. He knew that they would move to Sundays in the following season – and he would struggle for a referee. There was a space on the course, I sat it – and here I am now, over 10 years later…
What has been your refereeing highlight?
My highlight so far was probably being thrown in at the deep end to referee a Combined Counties Premier Division match when the referee failed to turn up – not because it was the most prestigious appointment or a great game of football, but because it gave me the confidence that I could officiate at a higher level.
What was the toughest position you have been in as a referee?
There have been many. The first time I had a parent come running onto the field of play and screaming in my face at a decision I had given against his son, at the age of 14, with nobody else there stopping him. The first sending off. Falling over my own shoelaces. Taking the first step into open-age football at 17. Missing someone throw a punch, whilst being assessed for my Level 6 – I came away devastated that day. Being thrown in at the deep end, having to referee a Combined Counties Premier Division match because the referee never showed up.
All of them were tough, and there have been times where I have wanted to throw it in.
Yet I am sure other referees will have gone through worse, and others better – but we all love the game so much, and we all have the support of others around us. The only reason I kept going was because of that support, knowing I wasn’t the only one. Sometimes putting on black can be tough – people think you are absolutely mad – but I’m still loving it.
What advice would you give to a new referee during their first season?
ASK! Getting out and refereeing a match is completely different to learning about it – and I assure you, no matter what situations you come across, there will be someone who has gone through something similar. Go out onto the field of play bold and confident, give a big blast to show everyone who is in charge – and, above all, always enjoy yourself when you referee!
If you want to know anything about Aldershot RA, what we do, how we can join – or how you can get one of those attractive blue polo shirts – drop him an email here!